Medications for Weight Loss

What is Saxenda and how does it work?

The newest addition to the obesity treatment market is Saxenda, a brand of the medication liraglutide. Liraglutide acts at the receptor for GLP-1, an appetite-regulating substance naturally produced in the body. It makes you feel full and less hungry, which can help you eat less and reduce your body weight.  It can help you to not only lose weight, but keep it off as well.


Liraglutide (Saxenda) is a different licensed product to liraglutide (Victoza) and the doses of liraglutide (Saxenda) used for weight management are different to that used in managing type 2 diabetes (Victoza). Liraglutide (Victoza) has been licensed in the UK for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in adults since 2009. Victoza is not licensed as a pharmacological treatment option for weight management.​

Liraglutide (Saxenda) is an injectable medication as opposed to other weight management medications which come in tablet form. 

You can inject your dose in your stomach area (abdomen), upper leg (thigh), or upper arm. 

Who can use Saxenda?

Liraglutide (Saxenda) is licensed as an adjunct to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for weight management in adult patients with an initial BMI of:

  • 30 kg/m² or more (obese), or

  • from 27 kg/m² to less than 30 kg/m² (overweight) in the presence of at least one weight-related comorbidity such as dysglycaemia (prediabetes or type 2 diabetes mellitus), high blood pressure, dyslipidaemia or obstructive sleep apnoea.

Children and young people under the age of 18 should not use Saxenda, as it is not yet known how the drug affects this age group. Furthermore, Saxenda should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women due to unknown effects on the foetus or baby. 

What is the dose for Saxenda?

The starting dose is 0.6mg daily, and the dose is increased weekly to a daily dose of 3mg. Saxenda commonly causes side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation and gastritis, especially when first started. It is slowly increased to improve tolerability, so your body gets used to the medications. The side effects should settle within two weeks - if still intolerable two weeks after stepping up to the next dose, treatment should be discontinued. Your clinician will review you and discuss suitable alternatives at your one month follow up appointment.  

How long before Saxenda starts to work?

Treatment should be discontinued after 12 weeks on the 3.0 mg daily dose (recommended maintenance dose) if patients have not lost at least 5% of their initial body weight.

What results have been seen with Saxenda?

Medical studies with more than 3,000 people taking Saxenda were conducted to understand the benefits and risks of Saxenda. The results from the study showed that along with a low-calorie meal plan and increased physical activity, some study participants lost nearly 2.5 times more weight with Saxenda versus placebo (17.3 lb vs 7 lb). Study participants had an average starting weight of 234 lb and an average BMI of 38. 

A different 1-year study, showed that most people who stayed on Saxenda kept the weight off.

Can I use Saxenda alongside other medication?

During your consultation, your clinician will go through your medical conditions and medications. This is important as the doses of your other medication may need to be adjusted, or Saxenda may be unsuitable if you are on other medications. 



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©2020 by Dr Mariam Adegoke.