The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new drug for weight loss. Saxenda comes in a higher dose than its earlier version, Victoza, a drug originally used for treating type-2 diabetes. This is the fourth drug permitted by the agency to be used for weight loss. Signs pointed to Victoza as an effective treatment for obesity when diabetics being treated for their disease stated they experienced weight loss after using the prescription medication. Researchers then examined the relation between Victoza and weight loss.
Like its predecessor, Saxenda has to be taken via a daily shot. The drug is meant to be used in conjunction with exercise and a low-calorie diet. It has been approved for obese people, with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 or for people with a BMI of 27, but with weight induced issues like high blood pressure.
The drug works by copying glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), a hormone created in the intestines, which tells you when you are full. The drug helps beta cells regulate blood sugars. Beta cells produce and release insulin to normalize high blood sugar, which is why it is particularly useful for treating diabetes. A wide range of responses are expected from people taking the new drug, just as previous responses had varied considerably for patients taking Victoza for type-2 diabetes treatment.
Saxenda had an approximately one-year clinical trial period during which 4,800 people were tested including some under the placebo. According to the FDA, over 90% of those given the drug experienced some weight loss. The test showed over 60% of those injected with a three milligram daily shot lost at least 5% of their weight and more than 10% body weight was shed by another 31% of the patients. In contrast, only 34% of those given a placebo lost at least 5% of their weight.
The new medication has not been tested against the other weight loss prescription drugs available on the market, but for some people the injection may be a hindrance, as an oral pill already exists. The FDA did reveal some possible side effects exposed during the clinical trial period, including decreased appetite, low blood sugar, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Problems with kidneys, pancreatitis, gallbladder disease and suicidal thoughts were some of the more severe side effects noted.
For now, the FDA is recommending patients prescribed with Saxenda should be re-examined after going 16 weeks on the medication and the treatment should be discontinued if during this timeframe the person has not lost at least 4% of their weight.