Effectiveness of Saxenda

Saxenda has become quite the popular solution for dealing with obesity. It gained its FDA approval back in 2014, with its US approval dating back to as early as 2010. Since then, Saxenda has become a top-selling obesity therapy option, to the point where its share of the global obesity prescription drug market has reached 56%.

The question is, does the continuous rise in its prescription and usage mean that the drug is effective? Or is it an overhyped treatment that somehow gained the attention of the masses?

Let’s take a closer look at what Saxenda is and how it works.

What is Saxenda?

Produced by Denmark-based company Novo Nordisk, Saxenda was created as a weight loss treatment to fight obesity.

Saxenda comes in the form of a pen injector. You can take it by injecting the medication via the skin under the front of your thigh, upper arm, or abdomen. Take care not to inject into a vein or a muscle.

Patients are also advised not to share this medication with others.


Patients normally start with 0.6 mg per week so that their bodies can get used to the drug, until they reach the full maintenance dose of 3 mg. Saxenda is a once-daily injection, and dosage relies on your doctor’s prescription. Since the initial dosage has decreased significantly, a single 3ml pen of Saxenda can last up to 17 days when you first start.

Not to worry, your healthcare provider or doctor usually equips you with the knowledge of how to inject yourself with this pen, especially if it’s your first time.

Storage and Disposal

The Saxenda pen needs to be refrigerated and kept at a temperature between 36°F and 46°F. Saxenda should not be frozen as it will render the drug unusable.

Pens that haven’t been used for 30 days should be thrown, even if they have Saxenda left in them.

Put the pen cap back on your pen after each use— Saxenda needs to be protected from light as well.

Its needles (Novo Nordisk disposable needles) are sold separately and may require a separate prescription. To dispose, simply remove the needle from the pen and place the needle in a sharps container before disposing properly. Make sure not to throw away used needles on their own in trash or recycling bins.

How does Saxenda work?

Saxenda contains the ingredient, liraglutide, which is known to have effects that reduce appetite and contrarily improve feelings of hunger and fullness.

Liraglutide has a molecular structure very similar to the naturally occurring hormone, GLP-1. This hormone is usually released upon taking food into the body. Once it takes effect, it creates a sensation of fullness, also regulating blood sugar levels in the process.

In this regard, Saxenda works similarly by making you feel fuller for longer, which, in turn, means that you will not feel hunger as often as you usually do. This reduction in appetite is then linked to losing weight, as there is less motivation to take in excess amounts of food.


Who can use Saxenda?

Saxenda is normally prescribed for adults who are considered to have excess weight (their BMI is greater than or equal to 27) or are considered obese (their BMI is greater than or equal to 30).

Saxenda can also be used with children ranging from the ages 12-17, who have a body weight above 132 pounds (or 60 kg)

What are Saxenda’s side effects?

Saxenda is known to cause the following side effects:

> Nausea
> Vomiting
> Stomach upset
> Diarrhea
> Gas
> Heartburn
> Constipation
> Dehydration

If these side effects persist, consult your doctor.

Note that serious side effects may occur to those who currently have, or have a history (or family history) of:

> Thyroid Tumors
> Cancer
> Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma (MTC)
> Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN2)

Pregnant women are also not advised to use Saxenda as it may harm the unborn baby.

Also, before taking Saxenda, you need to tell your healthcare provider about all your medical conditions and important health information, including the following:

> If you are taking GLP-1 receptor agonists
> if you have problems with your liver, kidneys, or pancreas
> if you have severe problems with your stomach, or are having problems with digesting food
> are breastfeeding
> are having mental health issues

Make sure to take note of all the medicines you are taking, including vitamins and herbal supplements, as some medicines may affect how Saxenda works and reacts.

Serious side effects may include:

> Kidney problems
> Yellowing eyes/skin
> Fast heartbeat
> Mental/mood changes
> Signs of low blood sugar (including shaking, dizziness)
> Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
> Gallbladder problems
> Increased heart rate
> Hypoglycemia
> Serious allergic reactions
> Depressive or suicidal thoughts

Is Saxenda effective?

It is expected that Saxenda can help reduce weight by a minimum of 5% of your initial body weight after 12 weeks of continuous treatment.

Doctors advise that you should stop using Saxenda after 12 weeks if it seems to have no effect.

It has also been the subject of numerous extensive trials, which we will cover more of in the next section.

What trials have been done with Saxenda?

A lot of studies and trials have been done with Saxenda over the past couple of years, including but not limited to: 4 x phase 3 trials— SCALE Obesity & Pre-Diabetes, SCALE Diabetes, SCALE Sleep Apnoea, and SCALE Maintenance.

Based on these studies and trials, when compared to diet and exercise alone, Saxenda already shows better weight loss results in obese and overweight patients, as more than twice as many people were able to achieve 5% and 10% body weight loss compared to those who went through diet and exercise alone.

One study was conducted on adults with and without Type 2 diabetes. Over the course of 56 weeks, those who used Saxenda lost an average of 5% to 6% of their initial body weight, which was 3% to 4% more weight than those who took a placebo.

Another study conducted the test with adults who did not have Type 2 diabetes, and they lost an average of 8% their initial body weight with Saxenda.

This test was also conducted on adolescents, and those who used Saxenda lost almost 3% of their initial body weight, which was a 5% greater loss than those who used the placebo— who actually gained weight in the process.

A separate study solely done on Liraglutide was also done on individuals who had a diagnosis of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea with a BMI greater than or equal to 30. Patients who got liraglutide had a significant change in body weight and glycemic control.

The most common side-effects that came out of these trials are nausea, hypoglycemia, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and headaches. The drug can also be incompatible with the gastrointestinal system of the patient, in which case, the usage of the drug should be stopped.

In another study, Liraglutide was shown to be one of the top two medications associated with the highest odds of achieving at least 5% weight loss when compared to using a placebo.

How long should Saxenda be used?

For chronic diseases like obesity, it is advised that Saxenda be used as part of a long-term treatment or regimen. This all depends on what your healthcare provider plans for you, and on your own weight-management goals. Frequently visiting your healthcare provider will also help track your progress and see if your Saxenda prescription needs to be renewed.

What are the best practices to keep in mind when using Saxenda?

> Don’t miss a dose. In case you do, take it as soon as you remember it— but if it’s past 12 hours the hour you should’ve taken it, wait for the next dose instead. Never double dose to compensate.
> If you end up using more Saxenda than your given dose, talk to a doctor immediately.
> If you start feeling any of the side effects listed here, talk to a doctor immediately.
> For best results, follow a calorie controlled diet while taking Saxenda.
> Nausea is the most common side effect when first taking Saxenda. Once the body is used to the drug, it decreases over time. Here are a few things that can help minimize the side effects:

● Go outside to get some fresh air
● No lying down after eating
● Eat foods that contain water, such as gelatin or soup
● Eat bland, low-fat foods, such as rice, toast, and crackers

> Don’t take Saxenda with other prescription weight-loss medicines or supplements.


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Notice of Non-Affiliation and Disclaimer

We are not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the Novo Nordisk Inc, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates. The official Saxenda® website can be found at www.saxenda.com