Saxenda: A new weight loss medication

Posted: Nov 06 in Weight Loss Medication by

Saxenda A new weight loss medicationThis is an exciting year for weight loss medications!  Hot on the heels of the FDA approval for Contrave, the FDA is expected to approve Saxenda, another novel weight loss drug soon.

Saxenda (liraglutide) is an analog of GLP-1 (glucose-like peptide 1).  GLP-1 is a hormone our small intestine makes in response to eating.  Saxenda tells the brain that we are full and should stop eating and tells the stomach that the meal is over signaling it to slow down.  GLP-1, along with oxyntomodulin (OXM) and peptide YY (PYY) are known in the obesity medicine world as the “ileal brake.”  They are mostly stimulated by protein and fat intake, and are the reason that about 20 minutes after we eat, we feel full.  This is why behaviors such as eating more slowly, having protein (vs. carbohydrates) early in the meal, etc. are effective strategies to feel satiated based on time passed instead of calories eaten.

Liraglutide is already approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes under the brand name Victoza.  Weight loss has always been listed as a side effect of Victoza.  However, if approved by the FDA, Saxenda will be the first GLP-1 agonist approved for weight loss.  It should be heart-safe, safe for use with most other medications (like anti-depressants), and has a very different mechanism of action than all of the other anti-obesity drugs like Phentermine, Tenuate, Contrave, Qsymia, and Belviq.  In fact, if approved, we will have 5 completely different classes of weight loss medications, each with a unique mechanism of action.

I have been excited to be involved as an expert advisor to Novo Nordisk (the company that is developing Saxenda) over the course of this past year.  I will be attending two more advisory council meetings between now and the end of the year and will bring you further updates soon!

By: Dr. Ethan Lazarus


3 Responses to “Saxenda: A new weight loss medication”

    I want to ask how much are the pills and how many kilos can I loose in a month.

  • Donna Jones says:

    As a nurse, I was so excited when I heard about this new drug to help me with my weight loss. A drug that could help me to control my weight which in turn will possibly delay family inheritance of diabetes, that will help reduce my blood pressure and possible decrease my blood pressure medications. I worked hard at getting your savings card, talking with my provider, getting my script to only find out that insurance will not help cover the cost of this mediation. Even with your $200.00 a month savings card that still leaves the cost at over $1000.00 a month! Ridiculous. How can any average person overweight or not afford this medication. I have heard great reviews about this product just so sorry I will never be able to try it. I’m sure like many others. I am very disappointed in your price for the product and that insurance will not help cover.

    • Dr. Lazarus says:

      Donna – thanks for your comment. A few thoughts:
      1) Saxenda is not my product – it is manufactured by Novo Nordisk. There are several generic anti-obesity medications that cost 20-40 dollars / month.
      2) Yes it costs a lot to make it – it is a synthesized molecule.
      3) Most insurers cover the ingredient in Saxenda (liraglutide) for diabetes. The fact that your insurance company does not cover it means that they don’t respect obesity to be a disease deserving of treatment to the same degree as diabetes. This is a form of weight based discrimination.
      4) For my first 10 years of practice, nothing for weight was ever covered; however, there has been significant improvement of late.
      5) About 20-30% of insurers do cover Saxenda.

      I suggest calling your insurance carrier and let them know how you feel 🙂

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