Liraglutide (Victoza), a medication to help persons with Type II diabetes control their blood sugar, was approved by the US-FDA in 2010. Researchers discovered that some individuals also lost weight while taking it.
Four years later, Saxenda — a higher-strength version of liraglutide — was approved for weight loss by the US-FDA. And in 2022, Saxenda was also approved by HSA for weight loss. So, what is Saxenda?
What is Saxenda?
Saxenda is a medication that is US FDA and HSA-approved for chronic weight management. It works best when it’s used in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and physical activity.
Saxenda (liraglutide) is a prescription medicine in Singapore used to assist in weight loss. It is used for overweight or obese adults with weight-related medical problems. It comes in an injectable pen that is pre-filled with Liraglutide which is a substance similar to GLP-1; a natural hormone in your body that suppresses your appetite and decreases gastric emptying, which prolongs your feeling of fullness and causes you to eat fewer calories.
How does Saxenda work?
Saxenda is part of a medication class called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists. GLP-1 is a gut hormone that plays an important role in regulating your appetite and how your body handles sugar. GLP-1 agonists, like Saxenda, mimic this hormone’s effects.
In particular, Saxenda helps promote weight loss by slowing gastric emptying after meals. This means that food stays in your stomach longer, causing you to feel full. But this effect is also why Saxenda can upset your stomach. We’ll discuss this further below.
How much weight can I lose?
You may have lost weight once or many times in the past. But keeping the weight off proved to be difficult. Learn how Saxenda helped some adults lose weight and keep it off below.
Benefits Beyond Weight Loss
How to use Saxenda?
Use the Saxenda pen at home or on the go
Saxenda is a once-daily, self-injectable medicine that comes in a pre-filled pen. Take your medicine each day at any time that is convenient for you, with or without food. Inject your dose under the skin (this is called subcutaneous injection) in your stomach area (abdomen), upper leg (thigh), or upper arm as instructed by your doctor. Do not inject into a vein or muscle.
Learn to use your Saxenda pen
It’s important to follow our doctors’ instructions as they will be able to determine the most suitable dose for you based on factors such as your weight, response to treatment, and any existing medical conditions. Do not change the dose or stop using Saxenda without consulting your healthcare provider.
- Starting Dose: The recommended starting dose of Saxenda is 0.6 mg once daily. This dose should be taken for at least one week to minimize gastrointestinal side effects.
- Weekly Dose Increase: After the initial week on the starting dose, the dose should be increased gradually to minimize gastrointestinal side effects. The dose should be increased by 0.6 mg each week until the maintenance dose is reached.
- Maintenance Dose: The maintenance dose of Saxenda is 3 mg once daily. This is the recommended dose for most individuals. However, some people may require a lower or higher dose based on their response and tolerability. The maximum recommended dose is 3 mg per day.
- Injection Administration: Saxenda is injected subcutaneously (under the skin) in the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. The injection site should be rotated with each dose. Detailed instructions for proper injection technique are provided in the Saxenda product information.
- Timing of Administration: Saxenda can be taken at any time of the day, with or without food. It’s important to choose a consistent time each day for administration to establish a routine.
- Additional Medications: Saxenda can be used alone or in combination with other weight management interventions, such as a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. Your healthcare provider will guide you on the appropriate combination therapy if needed.
What to do when I miss a dose?
Saxenda should be taken as soon as you remember if you miss a dosage. The following day, as usual, take your next dose. Saxenda should not be taken in excess or at a higher dosage the next day to make up for missed doses. Alternatively, you can give us a call to discuss how to restart your medication if you miss your Saxenda dosage for three days or longer.
Who is Saxenda for?
Saxenda is usually used as part of a comprehensive weight management program that includes a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. Saxenda may be suitable for individuals who:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher: Saxenda is approved for use in individuals with obesity, defined as a BMI of 30 or higher. BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters.
- Have a BMI of 27 or higher with weight-related medical conditions: In some cases, individuals with a BMI of 27 or higher may be prescribed Saxenda if they have weight-related medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
- Have made previous weight loss efforts without success: Saxenda may be considered for individuals who have tried to lose weight through lifestyle changes but have not achieved the desired results.
- Are committed to a comprehensive weight management program: Saxenda is intended to be used as part of a holistic approach to weight management, which includes a reduced-calorie diet, increased physical activity, and behaviour changes. It is important to be dedicated and motivated to make sustainable lifestyle modifications.
Who is NOT suitable for Saxenda?
It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if Saxenda is appropriate for you. Generally, Saxenda may NOT be suitable for individuals who:
- Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant: The safety of Saxenda during pregnancy has not been established, and it is generally not recommended for use during pregnancy.
- Have a history of thyroid cancer: Saxenda has been associated with an increased risk of thyroid tumours, so individuals with a history of thyroid cancer are usually advised against using Saxenda.
- Have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2): Saxenda is contraindicated in individuals with a personal or family history of MTC or MEN 2, as these conditions are associated with an increased risk of MTC.
- Have a history of pancreatitis: Saxenda has been linked to an increased risk of pancreatitis, so individuals with a history of pancreatitis or a history of chronic pancreatitis may not be suitable candidates for Saxenda.
- Have a known hypersensitivity to liraglutide or any of the ingredients in Saxenda: If you have had an allergic reaction to liraglutide or any other components of Saxenda, you should avoid using this medication.
Are there any side effects?
Like any drug, Saxenda (liraglutide) injection may cause negative effects. The intensity of these side effects might vary, and it’s important to remember that not everyone will experience them which is why it is very important to tell our doctors about any medical history and allergies. Saxenda’s typical negative effects include:
- Nausea: Nausea is one of the most frequently reported side effects of Saxenda. It may occur initially but often improves over time. Eating smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding high-fat foods may help alleviate this side effect.
- Vomiting: Some individuals may experience vomiting, especially during the initial weeks of treatment. If vomiting persists or becomes severe, it is important to contact a healthcare professional.
- Diarrhoea: Saxenda can occasionally cause diarrhoea. If it becomes severe or persistent, medical advice should be sought.
- Constipation: On the other hand, some individuals may experience constipation while taking Saxenda. Ensuring adequate hydration and fibre intake can help alleviate this symptom.
- Decreased appetite: Saxenda is designed to reduce appetite, which can lead to decreased food intake. While this is the desired effect for weight management, it may also cause a temporary decrease in appetite.
- Headache: Some individuals may experience headaches while using Saxenda. If headaches become severe or persistent, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional.
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar): Saxenda can lower blood sugar levels, especially in individuals with diabetes who are taking other medications that lower blood sugar. Symptoms of hypoglycemia may include dizziness, shakiness, confusion, and sweating.
- Injection site reactions: Redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site may occur. Rotating injection sites and proper injection techniques can help minimize these reactions.
- Gallbladder problems: Saxenda may increase the risk of gallbladder-related complications such as gallstones or inflammation of the gallbladder. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, fever, or yellowing of the skin or eyes.
How long does a used Saxenda pen last?
You have 30 days to use a Saxenda pen. Even if there is still medication inside, the container expires after 30 days and must be thrown away. The dosage you take determines how long each pen lasts. The amount of Saxenda that is still within is shown via a scale on the pen.