What Do You Need to Know About Saxenda for Weight Loss?

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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You may remember people talking about the diabetes drug Victoza (liraglutide) as a weight loss med. (You can check out our previous article on the subject here.)

Well, Victoza with a new name at a higher dose has just been approved by the FDA as Saxenda (liraglutide) for the treatment of obesity.

What is this Saxenda? It’s a higher dose of Victoza, which has been available in the US since 2010 for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Liraglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. The dose for obesity is 3.0 mg (Saxenda), in contrast to 1.2 mg or 1.8 mg for diabetes (Victoza).

Saxenda now becomes the fifth available obesity drug in the United States, joining orlistat (Xenical or Alli), Belviq, Qsymia, and Contrave.

Ok, give me the warnings: The product will have a boxed warning stating that thyroid C-cell tumors have been seen in rodents, but the risk in humans is unknown. The most common adverse event in people taking Saxenda was nausea and diarrhea, both of which got better over time.

Does Saxenda work? In the largest trial involving 3731 patients, the Saxenda group lost an average 8% of body weight vs 2.6% with placebo at 56 weeks. So, that’s a 16 pound weight loss if you are 200 pounds. One comforting thing is that Saxenda is a higher dose of a drug that’s been around for a while (Victoza) so it’s not a total mystery.

Dr O.

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