Saxenda is a solution containing the active agent liraglutide which is administered with a pre-filled injection pen. The prescription medication is used to aid sustainable weight loss in patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 30 or above 27 when there are already weight-related health problems showing, for example high blood pressure, diabetes or dyslipidemia.
To support healthy weight loss, Saxenda is only supposed to be used as a concurrent treatment while a healthy diet with reduced fat and sugar intake as well as adequate physical activity are maintained. The treatment should only be continued after 12 weeks of using the standard dose of 3 mg per day if the patient has reduced the initial body weight by at least 5 per cent.
The active ingredient liraglutide belongs to the group of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. GLP-1 is naturally being produced in the body and like the synthetic version in Saxenda binds and activates GLP-1 receptors, which regulate appetite and calorie intake. They are located in different brain areas involved in appetite regulation.
Liraglutide lasts longer in the body than natural GLP-1 and has been shown to be more stable against metabolic degradation, which means that absorption of the agent is delayed and the medicine only has to be applied once a day. Saxenda has a stimulating effect on insulin secretion and reduces glucagon secretion, which also helps to control of blood glucose levels.
The multi-dose injection pen makes the application of Saxenda safe and easy. Injections are only done subcutaneously and not intravenously or intramuscularly. The medication can be injected into the abdomen, thigh or upper arm.
Available doses with the pen are 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg, 1.8 mg, 2.4 mg and 3 mg, while the initial dosage in the first week is 0.6 mg. The doese is then increased by 0.6 mg each week until the maximum dose of 3 mg. This is the recommended daily dose, but a slow dose increase helps reduces side effects such as gastrointestinal problems.
Application of Saxenda takes place once daily. Both time of application and injection location can be selected individually, but it is recommended to use Saxenda roughly at the same time each day. The single-use needles are to be safely discarded after use, a needle box is provided. The delivered pen is accompanied by a sufficient amount of needles to use up the available solution.
It is important to note that Saxenda has to be constantly refrigerated at 2°C to 8°C. To prevent accidental freezing it should not be stored near or in the freezer compartment. Should Saxenda freeze at any point it can't be used anymore. It should also no longer be used if the solution is not clear and colourless or almost colourless.
After the first application Saxenda is usable for a month while an unused Saxenda pen is usable for 30 months if stored correctly. To protect the medicine from light the cap has to be placed back on the pen after every use. The pen is to be stored without the needle to prevent contamination, leakage and possible infections.
Healthy and sustainable weight loss can't be achieved with medication alone and a treatment with Saxenda needs to be applied in combination with a healthy lifestyle, including a sugar- and fat-reduced wholefood diet and adequate physical exercise. Our doctors strongly advise against using Saxenda in conjunction with other weight loss medicines.
Saxenda ist not suitable as a stand-alone type-2 diabetes. treatment and must not be used in conjunction with other GLP-1 receptor agonists or insulin.
Like all medicines Saxenda can also cause negative side effects. Most common are nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, headache and vomiting. Nausea is particularly common during the first weeks of treatment, but usually dissipates by itself once the body has fully adapted to the medicine. Further common side effects are for example:
Since Saxenda is applied via injection, side effects might include skin reactions at the local injection point like rash, erythema and pruritus. The treatment with Saxenda also carries an increased risk for certain serious side effects such as dehydration, increased heart rate, pancreatitis, thyroid disease and acute gallbladder disease.
An important consideration for the treatment with Saxenda is that it is not recommended for patients suffering from depression or who previously dealt with suicidal ideation. The medication can increase the risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviour, so mood and behavioural changes during the treatment need to be closely monitored.
Only adults over 18 years of age with a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher (or 27 with acute weight-related health problems) should use Saxenda. The medication is not suitable if the patient has a hypersensitivity to liraglutide or any of the other product component and is not indicated for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Patients suffering from Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2) or with a family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) should use a different weight loss treatment. The same applies to congestive heart failure. inflammatory bowel disease and mild to moderate hepatic impairment. The safety and efficacy of the medication can also not be guaranteed for patients over 75, severe renal or hepatic impairment or in cases where obesity is caused primarily by a eating disorder, endocrinological problems or medication.