Home Drugs Saxenda (Liraglutide)

Saxenda (Liraglutide)

Manufactured by NovoNordisk, Saxenda (liraglutide) is a GLP-1 receptor agonist commonly used for weight management. Saxenda is FDA-approved for daily injection by patients aged 12+ with obesity. Research shows an average of 6.4% body weight lost over 16 months on Saxenda. Unlike Ozempic, Saxenda is not approved for the treatment of diabetes.

Last Modified: May 30, 2024
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What Is Saxenda?

Saxenda is a weight loss drug containing the active ingredient liraglutide. It’s taken as a daily injection and works by binding to GLP-1 receptors in the body to stimulate insulin release and suppress appetite. Saxenda helps people feel full longer and supports weight loss goals by reduced caloric intake.

Liraglutide is in a class of drugs known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. While other GLP-1s are approved as anti-diabetes medications, Saxenda is only FDA-approved for chronic weight management.

Did You Know?
After years of research and development, liraglutide was selected as the first GLP-based analog suitable for once-daily dosing.

Patients using a 3 mg dose of liraglutide experience weight loss, but daily Saxenda injections make medication compliance difficult. This led to the development of other GLP-1 agonist drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic.

While semaglutide, known as Wegovy or Ozempic, is the most prescribed medication in both the anti-diabetes and anti-obesity medication categories, Truveta Research says Saxenda is the second most prescribed anti-obesity medication.

What Is Saxenda Used For?

The FDA approved Saxenda as a weight management medication for adults and adolescents aged 12 through 17. It should be used along with a low-calorie diet and increased physical activity to achieve lasting weight loss.

Saxenda: FDA Facts
  • Approved in 2014 for adults diagnosed with obesity
  • Approved in 2020 for patients 12 and older diagnosed with obesity
  • Not approved to treat Type 2 diabetes

Doctors can prescribe Saxenda for obesity and it may also help stabilize blood sugar levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes, even though it is not FDA-approved as a diabetes treatment.

Effectiveness of Saxenda for Weight Loss

Patients have experienced significant weight loss while using Saxenda. The average weight loss in trials was 6.4% of total starting weight over 68 weeks, compared to less than 2% with a placebo. Participants also received counseling on diet and exercise strategies.

Saxenda: Drug Comparisons
Brand Name Active Ingredient Typical Weight Loss Approved Use
Saxenda Liraglutide 3 mg 6.4%1 Weight Management
Wegovy Semaglutide 2.4 mg 15.8%1
Victoza Liraglutide 1.8 mg 4.7%2 Type 2 Diabetes Management
Ozempic Semaglutide 2 mg 6.3%3
  1. As a percentage of original body weight over a 68-week trial.
  2. As a percentage of original body weight over a 56-week trial.
  3. As a percentage of original body weight over a 40-week trial.

Saxenda effectively manages weight by suppressing appetite, slowing gastric emptying and promoting insulin production.

Saxenda, Wegovy and Zepbound (tirzepatide) are the only GLP-1 type medications FDA-approved for weight loss. Other GLP-1s approved for Type 2 diabetes may produce weight loss, but they do not have FDA approval for that use. Using a medication off-label can pose serious health risks.

Saxenda Dosage Information

Saxenda is taken in a gradually increasing dose to allow the body to adjust. The standard dose is 3.0 mg per day.

The treatment begins with a daily injection of 0.6 mg and gradually increases until the maintenance dose of 3 mg daily is reached. Some patients who do not tolerate higher doses may stay on the 1.2 mg, 1.8 mg, or 2.4 mg dose. You should return to your doctor for a check-up after four months of use.

Saxenda Dosing
  • Week 1: 0.6 mg/day
  • Week 2: 1.2 mg/day
  • Week 3: 1.8 mg/day
  • Week 4: 2.4 mg/day
  • Week 5 and beyond: 3.0 mg/day

Saxenda is a pre-filled pen that delivers a 3 mg dose, meant to be injected daily under the skin of your abdomen, thigh or upper arm. Rotate the injection site daily to avoid lumps. Never inject into a vein or muscle.

How Much Does Saxenda Cost?

According to Novo Nordisk, Saxenda has a list price of $1,349 without insurance. However, the out-of-pocket price may be substantially lower if your health insurance covers it.

Consult your health care professional, pharmacy or insurance provider for updated and accurate pricing information.

Novo Nordisk previously offered a savings program for Saxenda, but it expired in 2023. Other savings programs may be available.

Saxenda Boxed Warning

Saxenda has an FDA boxed warning — the Agency’s most serious warning — due to an increased risk of thyroid tumors from liraglutide. Rats and mice have developed thyroid C-cell tumors while taking liraglutide in lab tests, but it’s unclear if humans are at risk.

Who Should Not Take Saxenda?

You should not take Saxenda if you have a personal or family history of certain types of thyroid cancers. If you have the rare genetic disorder multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN), you should not take Saxenda. If you are pregnant or have a known allergic reaction or hypersensitivity to ingredients in Saxenda, you shouldn’t take it.

“Saxenda is contraindicated in patients with a personal or family history of MTC or in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. Counsel patients regarding the risk of MTC and the symptoms of thyroid tumors.”

Saxenda can lead to complications in patients with medical conditions like pancreatitis, renal disease and Type 2 diabetes requiring insulin treatment. You should discuss the risks with your health care provider before taking Saxenda.

Lawsuit Information
If you or a loved one have suffered complications after taking Saxenda, you may be able to join ongoing legal action against Novo Nordisk.
View Lawsuits

Saxenda Side Effects

Saxenda can cause mild gastrointestinal side effects that typically last for a few days. More severe Saxenda side effects can persist for weeks, and there are increased risks of potentially life-threatening conditions. Discuss the dangers of liraglutide with your healthcare provider before taking Saxenda.

Common Saxenda Side Effect
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Vomiting

Some patients report serious side effects while taking Saxenda. Patients taking other GLP-1 agonists, including Victoza, Ozempic and Rybelsus, may experience similar symptoms.

Serious Saxenda Side Effects
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Facial swelling
  • Fainting
  • Heart pounding
  • Jaundice
  • Mood changes
  • Pancreatitis
  • Stomach paralysis
  • Vomiting

Patients have taken legal action against Mounjaro, a GLP-1 co-agonist, claiming Eli Lilly failed to disclose the risks of severe vomiting lasting for weeks. People have also filed Ozempic lawsuits due to its serious side effects causing long-term harm to patients.

Saxenda Warnings and Precautions

Saxenda packaging warns of life-threatening complications. Those at risk should consult a health care provider before taking it.

Saxenda Safety Warnings
  • Acute gallbladder disease
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Hypersensitivity reactions
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Increased heart rate
  • Renal impairment
  • Risk of thyroid T-cell cancers
  • Suicidal thoughts

Is There a Saxenda Shortage?

The FDA lists Saxenda as “currently in shortage”. According to the World Health Organization, there has been a global shortage of GLP-1 medicines due to the high demand for weight loss medications. WHO warns of a 101% increase in drug shortages overall since September 2021, putting people at risk of fake or substandard drugs.

Novo Nordisk has promised increased production of its GLP-1 drugs, but some regulatory authorities predict shortages may persist until the end of 2024.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.