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What is Saxenda?

Saxenda is a prescription only medicine and comes as an injection for daily use.

The active ingredient of Saxenda, liraglutide, has been previously used in a lower dose to treat diabetes under the brand name Victoza. Victoza has been prescribed “off license” for a number of years to promote weight loss in people without diabetes. Saxenda will soon be licensed in the UK at a higher dose than Victoza specifically to promote weight loss.

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Saxenda Saxenda 6mg/ml Prefilled Pen £54.94 per unit Prescription only Start questionnaire

The Pharmacy2U Online Doctor Service offers a fast and discrete consultation service for Saxenda. Saxenda (liraglutide) was licensed as a treatment for weight loss in the USA in September 2014 and is now licensed within the UK for weight loss.

What are the key benefits of Saxenda?

The effectiveness of Saxenda to promote weight loss has been proved in clinical trials in thousands of men. Results from the SCALE Obesity and Pre-diabetes phase 3a trial were published in May 2014. In the trial, 3,731 people show that after 56 weeks of treatment, liraglutide 3mg, in conjunction with diet and exercise, was associated with an 8% loss of body weight. This was significantly better than the weight loss achieved with placebo treatment of 2.6%.

These findings were extended in June 2014 by the primary results from SCALE Diabetes trial presented at the 74th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association. This confirmed that a higher dose of 3mg liraglutide is more effective than a 1.8mg dose and both are more effective than no treatment at all.

Further evidence was presented in November 2014 and new data from the P3a SCALE Obesity and Pre-diabetes trial was presented at Obesity Week 2014, the 2nd Annual Congress of The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and The Obesity Society. In the liraglutide 3mg group, 92% of patients lost weight, in combination with diet and exercise, compared with 65% on the placebo treatment in the 56-week study. Patients treated with liraglutide experienced statistically significantly better weight loss of 9.2% compared with a 3.5% reduction in the no treatment group. Patients who received liraglutide were also seen to experience improvements in quality of life scores, showing improved well-being.

How does Saxenda work?

Saxenda acts in the same way a substance that our body produces – GLP-1 – does. GLP-1 is a hormone released after the ingestion of food and helps to regulate blood sugar. Saxenda also works to decrease the production of glucagon, a hormone that opposes insulin, slows down the emptying of the stomach and lowers hunger and increases satiety.

How do I use Saxenda?

Saxenda is administered as a daily injection.

Is Saxenda suitable for me?

Limitations of use are yet to be finalised, but will probably be similar to the limitations of use for Victoza:

  • Is not indicated for treatment of type 2 diabetes
  • Should not be used in combination with any other GLP-1 receptor agonist
  • Should not be used with insulin
  • The use of Saxenda will not be recommended if you have severe kidney disease or you are on dialysis.
  • There is little experience with this medicine in patients with liver problems. It will not be recommended if you have liver disease.
  • There is little to no experience with this medicine in patients with heart failure. It will not be recommended if you have severe heart failure.
  • This medicine will not be recommended if you have a severe stomach or gut problem which results in delayed stomach emptying (called gastroparesis), or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • If you have thyroid disease including thyroid nodules and enlargement of the thyroid gland, consult your doctor.

What are the side effects of Saxenda?

When initiating treatment with Saxenda, you may in some cases experience loss of fluids/dehydration, e.g. in case of vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea. It is important to avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. Contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

Side effects of Saxenda have yet to be published but will probably be similar to the side effect of Victoza as follows:

Very common side effects

    • Nausea (feeling sick). This usually goes away over time.
    • Diarrhoea. This usually goes away over time.

Common side effects:

  • Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). The warning signs of low blood sugar may come on suddenly and can include: cold sweat, cool pale skin, headache, fast heartbeat, feeling sick, feeling very hungry, changes in vision, feeling sleepy, feeling weak, nervous, anxious, confused, difficulty concentrating, shaking (tremor). Your doctor will tell you how to treat low blood sugar and what to do if you notice these warning signs.
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Inflamed stomach (gastritis). The signs include stomach pain, nausea and vomiting.
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). The signs include heartburn.
  • Painful or swollen tummy (abdomen).
  • Abdominal discomfort.
  • Viral infection in stomach.
  • Constipation.
  • Wind (flatulence).
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Common cold.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Toothache.
  • Injection site reactions (such as bruising, pain, irritation, itching and rash).

Uncommon side effects

  • Pancreatitis.
  • Thyroid events - like nodules, increased blood calcitonin and goiters.

Rare side effects

  • Angioedema

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