The injectable drug liraglutide, marketed as Saxenda, can help overweight or obese patients lose a significant amount of weight — but a study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that the drug also carries several side effects.
Liraglutide was originally developed to treat Type 2 diabetes, but researchers found that in higher doses the drug could promote weight loss. In the Novo Nordisk-funded study, which followed 3,731 overweight patients without diabetes, those who injected the drug every day lost an average of 18.5 pounds, compared with an average of 6 pounds for those taking a placebo, after 56 weeks.
The glucagonlike peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1) agonist works by mimicking the effects of a hormone that keeps you feeling full longer. But several side effects were noted, including nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting. Serious side effects, which occurred in 6.2 percent of patients taking liraglutide, included pancreas inflammation, gallbladder disease, lowered kidney function, and sudden drops in blood sugar.
Sixty-three percent of patients taking liraglutide lost at least 5 percent of their initial body weight, and one-third lost more than 10 percent of body weight, the researchers found. Among those receiving placebo, 27 percent lost 5 percent of their body weight, and one in 10 lost more than 10 percent of their body weight.
HealthDay reports losing 5 percent of body weight — 14 pounds for someone at 280 — can have a significant positive effect on the risk for diabetes and heart disease, said lead researcher Dr. F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.
The double-blind study participants were given lifestyle training such as reducing food intake a bit and increasing exercise to 150 minutes each week.
The FDA approved the drug as the first injectable for weight loss in 2014. The published data was included in the information submitted to the FDA.
Liraglutide, which is not generic, has a high co-pay of $20 to $100, and the price in the U.S. is between $1,000 and $1,800 for a three-month supply, reports HealthDay.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery