Generic name: liraglutide [ LIR-a-GLOO-tide ]
Brand names: Saxenda, Victoza
Dosage form: Subcutaneous injection
Drug class: Incretin mimetics
What is Saxenda?
Saxenda (liraglutide) is used for weight loss and to help keep weight off once weight has been lost, it is used for obese adults or overweight adults who also have weight-related medical problems. Saxenda can be used in children aged 12 to 17 years who with obesity and who have a bodyweight above 132 pounds (60 kg). Saxenda is used together with a healthy diet and exercise.
Saxenda is an injection given once a day under the skin (subcutaneous) from a multi-dose injection pen.
Saxenda contains the same active ingredient (liraglutide) as Victoza. The difference between Saxenda and Victoza is they are different strengths and they are FDA approved for different conditions.
Saxenda is not for treating type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It is not known if Saxenda is safe and effective in children under 12 years of age. It is not known if Saxenda is safe and effective in children aged 12 to 17 years with type 2 diabetes.
What is Saxenda used for?
Saxenda is FDA approved for weight loss and to help keep weight off once you have lost weight. It can be used for:
- obese adults (BMI 30 kg/m2 or greater)
- overweight adults (BMI 27 kg/m2 or greater) who also have weight-related medical problems e.g., hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, or dyslipidemia.
Pediatric patients aged 12 years and older:
- body weight above 60 kg and
- their initial BMI corresponding to 30 kg/m2 or greater for adults (obese) by international cut-offs (Cole Criteria)
The Victoza brand of liraglutide is used together with diet and exercise to treat type 2 diabetes. Do not use Saxenda and Victoza together.
You should not use Saxenda if you have multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (tumors in your glands), a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer, insulin-dependent diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis, or are pregnant.
In animal studies, liraglutide caused thyroid tumors or thyroid cancer. It is not known whether these effects would occur in people using regular doses.
Call your doctor at once if you have signs of a thyroid tumor, such as swelling or a lump in your neck, trouble swallowing, a hoarse voice, or shortness of breath.
Before using Saxenda
You should not use Saxenda if you are allergic to liraglutide, or if you have:
- multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (tumors in your glands);
- a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (a type of thyroid cancer); or
- diabetic ketoacidosis (call your doctor for treatment).
You should not use Saxenda if you also use insulin or other medicines like liraglutide (albiglutide, dulaglutide, exenatide, Byetta, Bydureon, Tanzeum, Trulicity).
To make sure Saxenda is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- stomach problems causing slow digestion;
- kidney or liver disease;
- high triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood);
- heart problems;
- a history of problems with your pancreas or gallbladder; or
- a history of depression or suicidal thoughts.
In animal studies, liraglutide caused thyroid tumors or thyroid cancer. It is not known whether these effects would occur in people using regular doses. Ask your doctor about your risk.
It is not known whether Saxenda will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
It is not known whether liraglutide passes into breast milk or if it could affect the nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding.
Saxenda is not FDA-approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.
How should I use Saxenda?
Saxenda is usually given once per day. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Do not use Saxenda and Victoza together. These two brands contain the same active ingredient but they should not be used together.
Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
Saxenda is injected under the skin at any time of the day, with or without a meal. You will be shown how to use injections at home. Do not self-inject this medicine if you do not understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of used needles and syringes.
Saxenda comes in a prefilled injection pen. Ask your pharmacist which type of needles are best to use with your pen.
Usual Adult Dose for Weight Loss:
Dose escalation should be followed to reduce the likelihood of gastrointestinal symptoms; dose escalation may be delayed by 1 additional week if necessary:
Week 1: Inject 0.6 mg subcutaneously once a day
Week 2: Inject 1.2 mg subcutaneously once a day
Week 3: Inject 1.8 mg subcutaneously once a day
Week 4: Inject 2.4 mg subcutaneously once a day
Week 5: Inject 3 mg subcutaneously once a day
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Saxenda side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Saxenda: hives; fast heartbeats; dizziness; trouble breathing or swallowing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
- racing or pounding heartbeats;
- sudden changes in mood or behavior, suicidal thoughts;
- severe ongoing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea;
- signs of a thyroid tumor– swelling or a lump in your neck, trouble swallowing, a hoarse voice, feeling short of breath;
- gallbladder problems– fever, upper stomach pain, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of your skin or eyes);
- symptoms of pancreatitis– severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea with or without vomiting, fast heart rate;
- severely low blood sugar– extreme weakness, confusion, tremors, sweating, fast heart rate, trouble speaking, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, fainting, and seizure (convulsions); or
- kidney problems– little or no urination; painful or difficult urination; swelling in your feet or ankles; feeling tired or short of breath.
Common Saxenda side effects may include:
- nausea (especially when you start using Saxenda), vomiting, stomach pain;
- increased heart rate;
- diarrhea, constipation;
- headache, dizziness; or
- feeling tired.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What other drugs will affect Saxenda?
Saxenda can slow your digestion, and it may take longer for your body to absorb any medicines you take by mouth.
Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
- insulin; or
- oral diabetes medicine– Glucotrol, Metaglip, Amaryl, Avandaryl, Duetact, DiaBeta, Micronase, Glucovance, and others.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with liraglutide, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
What are the ingredients in Saxenda?
Active ingredient: liraglutide
Inactive ingredients: disodium phosphate dihydrate, propylene glycol, phenol and water for injection. Hydrochloric acid or sodium hydroxide may be added to adjust the pH.
What happens if I miss a dose?
If you miss your daily dose of Saxenda, use the dose as soon as you remember. Then take your next daily dose as usual on the following day. Do not take an extra dose of Saxenda or increase your dose on the following day to make up for your missed dose.
If you miss your dose of Saxenda for 3 days or more, call your healthcare provider to talk about how to restart your treatment.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while using Saxenda?
Never share an injection pen, cartridge, or syringe with another person, even if the needle has been changed.
Do not use Saxenda together with other weight loss products, diet pills, or appetite suppressants.
- Saxenda should not be used in combination with any other GLP-1 receptor agonist.
- The safety and effectiveness of Saxenda in combination with other products intended for weight loss, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal preparations, have not been established.
- Evaluate weight loss at 16 weeks; if 4% or more of body weight has not been lost, it is unlikely the patient will achieve and sustain clinically meaningful weight loss with continued treatment.