Everything you need to know about Saxenda (Liraglutide)

Saxenda is a prescription medication/drug used to help with weight loss and to help patients keep the weight off. It is prescribed in 3mg pre-filled injectable pens.

Indication:

  • Adults with excess weight (BMI of ≥27)
  • Adults who have obesity issues (BMI ≥30)
  • Children aged 12-17 years with body weight above 132 pounds (60 kg) and obesity

How does Saxenda work?

Saxenda’s mechanism of action is based on the body’s natural response to weight loss.

Our body naturally produces an appetite hormone known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that helps to regulate hunger. Saxenda(liraglutide) is a GLP-1 agonist which works like our natural GLP-1 by regulating our appetite. GLP-1 agonist makes us feel more full and decreases our hunger which can lead to us consuming fewer calories thus resulting in weight loss.

How to use Saxenda injections?

Saxenda is administered via subcutaneous (under the skin) injections. The area of injection can be at subcutaneous tissue in your stomach area (abdomen), upper leg (thigh) or upper arms. Avoid injecting directly into veins or muscles. It is recommended to rotate injection sites to prevent getting lumps (cutaneous amyloidosis)

What are the doses required and the treatment plan?

You will be started on the minimal dose of 0.6 mg for the first week of your weight loss treatment plan. Subsequently, you will work up to 3 mg (maintenance dose) with an increment of 0.6 mg weekly. This weekly controlled increment in dose is to prevent the side effects and for your body to adapt to the new dose until you reach the maintenance dose.

What are the side effects of Saxenda?

Long term:

  • Possible thyroid cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallstones
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Depression

Short term:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Injection site reaction
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Headache/dizziness
  • Tiredness (fatigue)
  • Stomach pain
  • Change in enzyme (lipase) levels in your blood.

Additional common side effects in children are fever and gastroenteritis.

Who should not use Saxenda?

  • Personal or any family history of  (medullary thyroid carcinoma) MTC or if you have (Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome types 2) MEN 2
  • History of a serious allergic reaction to liraglutide or any of the ingredients in Saxenda
  • Pregnant or plan to become pregnant.  

Saxenda should be used together with a balanced caloric deficit diet and supplemented with physical activity. A proper treatment plan guided by your doctor will help you lose weight, maintain the weight loss and take precautions to prevent the side effects. If you are an individual who has tried to lose weight with the conventional diet and exercise plan but to no avail, talking to your doctor regarding Saxenda might prove to be beneficial. 

FAQs

1. Length of therapy?
– Initially first week dosage would be 0.6 mg daily, increasing by 0.6 mg every week until reaching the maintenance dose of 3 mg per day.

2. Mechanism of action?
– Saxenda(liraglutide) is a GLP-1 agonist.It increases satiety and decreases hunger and cravings which can lead to consuming fewer calories thus resulting in weight loss.

3. Contraindications?
– Saxenda is not recommended if there is a family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2.

4. Side effects?
Long term:
– Possible thyroid cancer
– Pancreatitis
– Gallstones
– Hypersensitivity

Short term:
– Nausea/vomiting
– Diarrhea
– Constipation
– Injection site reaction
– Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
– Headache/dizziness
– Tiredness (fatigue)
– Stomach pain

5. Frequency of follow up with healthcare practitioners?
– Initially it is advice for weekly follow up until the maintenance dose is achieved. This is to ensure dosage adjustment and to review side effects.

6. Attainable outcome?
– Incorporating saxenda with a low calorie diet and exercise we can expect to have a steady weight loss of 2.5 kg to 5 kg per month until proper BMI is achieved.

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