What is Saxenda Uses, warnings & interactions
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Saxenda is a prescription medication given to adults and children 12 years of age and older along with diet and exercise for chronic weight management. The active ingredient in Saxenda is liraglutide, which is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist.
If your doctor has prescribed Saxenda to you, you may want to know more about what it is and how it works. Here we’ll explain what Saxenda is used for, how it works, its side effects, and more.
- Chronic weight management
What is Saxenda used for?
Saxenda (liraglutide) is a prescription drug that is manufactured by Novo Nordisk. There is no generic version of Saxenda available. It is U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved as an adjunct to a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management and weight loss in:
- Adult patients with an initial body mass index (BMI) of:
- 30 kg/m^2 or greater (obesity)
- 27 kg/m^2 or greater (overweight) with at least one weight-related comorbid condition (high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol)
- Pediatric patients aged 12 years and older with:
- body weight above 60 kg and
- an initial BMI corresponding to 30 kg/m^2 for adults (obese) by international cut-offs
How does Saxenda work?
Saxenda is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that mimics a hormone that we naturally produce called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). GLP-1 targets areas of the brain that regulate appetite and food intake. Saxenda also works in the pancreas to regulate blood sugar.
What are the most commonly prescribed doses of Saxenda?
- 6 mg/mL pre-filled pen that delivers doses of 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg, 1.8 mg, 2.4 mg or 3 mg
How to take Saxenda
- Read the Instructions for Use, Prescribing Information, and Medication Guide, including the Boxed Warning that come with Saxenda.
- Take Saxenda as prescribed by your healthcare provider. They should instruct you on how to use Saxenda before you use it for the first time.
- Your starting dose is 0.6mg per day for one week. Your dose will be increased by 0.6mg in weekly intervals until the recommended dose of Saxenda 3mg daily is reached. Children may reduce their dose to 2.4mg daily if they don’t tolerate the maximum dose.
- Saxenda is injected once a day, at any time during the day. It can be taken with or without food.
- Inject Saxenda under the skin (subcutaneous) in the stomach, thigh, or upper arm. Rotate your injection site with each injection
- Taking too much Saxenda may cause severe nausea, vomiting, and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
- If you miss your daily dose of Saxenda, skip the missed dose and take your next daily dose as usual on the following day. Do not take an extra dose of Saxenda to make up for your missed dose. If you miss your dose of Saxenda for 3 days or more, call your doctor to discuss how to restart your treatment.
- If you have type 2 diabetes, monitor your blood glucose before starting and during treatment.
- Before its first use, your Saxenda pen should be stored in a refrigerator between 36ºF to 46ºF (2ºC to 8ºC). Do not store in the freeze and do not use Saxenda if it has been frozen. After its initial use, the pen can be stored for up to 30 days at controlled room temperature (59°F to 86°F; 15°C to 30°C) or in a refrigerator (36°F to 46°F; 2°C to 8°C).
- Keep the pen cap on when not in use. You should remove and safely discard the needle after each injection and store the Saxenda pen without a needle attached.
- Saxenda should not be taken during pregnancy because weight loss offers no potential benefit to a pregnant woman and may result in fetal harm. If you become pregnant while taking Saxenda, discontinue this medication and contact your healthcare provider.
- It is not known if Saxenda passes into your breast milk. Talk to your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.
- It is not known if Saxenda can be safely taken with other prescription or over-the-counter weight loss drugs.
- Personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) or in patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2
- Hypersensitivity to Saxenda or any of its inactive ingredients
- Increased risk of thyroid c-cell tumors
- Acute pancreatitis
- Acute gallbladder disease
- Hypoglycemia when used along with an insulin secretagogue or insulin
- Increased risk of acute kidney injury when initiating or increasing the dose of Saxenda
- Discontinue Saxenda and promptly seek medical advice if a severe allergic reaction is suspected
- Increased heart rate
- Increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior
- The risk of hypoglycemia is increased when Saxenda is used along with insulin secretagogues (sulfonylureas) or insulin.
- Saxenda delays gastric emptying so it may have an impact on the absorption of oral medications taken along with it. Saxenda has not been studied in patients with preexisting gastroparesis.
Saxenda side effects
The most common side effects of Saxenda in clinical trials compared to placebo include:
- Injection site reaction
- Change in enzyme (lipase) levels in your blood
- Stomach pain
- Upset stomach
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Fever and/or gastroenteritis in children
In rare instances, Saxenda can cause more serious side effects. These can include:
- Increased risk of thyroid cancer
- Acute pancreatitis
- Gallbladder problems including gallstones
- Kidney problems including kidney failure
- Allergic reactions
- Increased heart rate
- Increased risk of suicidal behavior and ideation
There are other weight loss medications that your healthcare professional can prescribe if Saxenda is not right for you. They will vary by different factors such as side effects and costs. Some FDA-approved alternatives to Saxenda include:
- Wegovy (semaglutide)
- Contrave (bupropion/naltrexone)
- Qysmia (phentermine/topiramate)
Is Saxenda better than Wegovy?
Saxenda and Wegovy are given as injections under the skin for weight loss. Saxenda is a once-daily injection while Wegovy is injected once a week. Both medications are expensive and cost over $1500 on average without insurance. Saxenda is not as effective as Wegovy when it comes to weight loss. Wegovy patients lost an average of 15% of their body weight while Saxenda patients only lost 5% of their body weight.
How much weight can you lose with Saxenda?
A Saxenda clinical trial showed that patients who took the maintenance dose of 3mg along with diet and exercise lost between 5% and 10% of their starting body weight.
How long does Saxenda stay in the system?
With an elimination half-life of approximately 13 hours, Saxenda will remain in your bloodstream for about 3 days after your last 3mg dose.
How do I store Saxenda?
Before its first use, your Saxenda pen should be stored in a refrigerator between 36ºF to 46ºF (2ºC to 8ºC). Do not store in the freeze and do not use Saxenda if it has been frozen. After its initial use, the pen can be stored for up to 30 days at controlled room temperature (59°F to 86°F; 15°C to 30°C) or in a refrigerator (36°F to 46°F; 2°C to 8°C).
How long does it take for Saxenda to start working?
You should see some weight loss or a decrease in appetite within 2 weeks of starting Saxenda.
Is there a generic for Saxenda?
Currently, there is not a generic for Saxenda available on the market. However, you can still save on brand-name drugs like Saxenda through the NiceRx patient assistance program.
The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.