Is Saxenda Safe?

Saxenda is a new prescription medication in town that can help you in losing weight. However, Saxenda is not suitable for everyone and may result in some side effects. Let us find out more!

Saxenda is a prescription medication used to treat the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes and as an adjunct therapy to a low-calorie diet in the treatment of obesity.

Are you wondering how effective Saxenda is? Even after numerous clinical trials, the results have been ambiguous. It is still unknown whether using Saxenda is safe, as it can lead to several serious side effects which include pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, kidney problems, and suicidal thoughts. Saxenda may be slightly more effective for weight loss in patients without type 2 diabetes, but it had a lesser positive impact on weight management in those with diabetes.

What exactly is Saxenda?

Saxenda functions similarly to a hormone that occurs naturally in the body and helps in the regulation of blood sugar, insulin levels, and digestion. [1]

Saxenda is an injectable prescription medicine that may help some obese or overweight adults who also have weight-related medical problems, as well as children aged 12 to 17 years with a body weight greater than 60 kgs, lose weight and keep it off. It is used in conjunction with diet and exercise. [2]

How does Saxenda function?

Saxenda is a preloaded, injectable pen that is simple to use and contains the active ingredient liraglutide. [3]

The liraglutide in Saxenda mimics GLP-1, a naturally occurring hormone released by our intestines after a meal to notify the brain that the body is full. Saxenda tells the brain not to eat anymore by replicating this process. You will automatically feel fuller and tend to lose weight.

How long does it take Saxenda to work?

It may take a few weeks before you notice any weight loss with Saxenda. Adults should be checked after 4 months, and children should be checked after 3 months. If you haven’t lost enough weight by then, it’s unlikely that Saxenda is working for you. Your doctor will most likely advise you to discontinue treatment.

Is Saxenda Safe for Weight Loss?

Saxenda is intended to be used as part of a long-term weight-loss plan. This should include a low-calorie diet and increased physical activity. In general, Saxenda is considered safe for weight loss, and patients should expect to lose at least 5% of their starting weight by week 12 of treatment. [4]

It is still unknown whether using Saxenda with other weight loss products is safe. Therefore, it should not be combined with other weight loss medications such as:

  • Prescribed and over-the-counter weight loss medications
  • Herbal weight loss products available over the market, and 
  • Weight loss supplements and tablets

What are the risks of taking Saxenda?

Saxenda may cause serious side effects such as: 

Pancreatic Inflammation

Post consuming Saxenda, you might experience severe stomach pain that does not go away, whether you are vomiting or not. The pain may radiate from your stomach to your back. [5]

Gallbladder issues

Saxenda has been linked to gallbladder issues, including gallstones. If you have any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor: upper stomach pain, fever, yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice), or clay-colored stools. [6]

Increased risk of hypoglycemia

Lower blood sugar level (hypoglycemia) is possible in adults with type 2 diabetes who also take diabetes medications such as insulin.

Increase in heart rate

While at rest, Saxenda can raise your heart rate. Inform your doctor if you feel your heart racing or pounding in your chest for more than a few minutes.

Kidney issues (kidney failure)

Saxenda may cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, resulting in fluid loss (dehydration). Dehydration can lead to kidney failure, which may necessitate dialysis. If you have persistent nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, contact your doctor right away. [7]

Severe allergic reactions

If you experience swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat, dizziness, very rapid heartbeat, breathing or swallowing issues, or severe rash or itching, discontinue Saxenda immediately and seek medical attention.

Suicidal thoughts or depression

You should be aware of essential vitamins for brain health and pay attention to any mental changes, especially if they are sudden, in your mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings.

What are the long-term effects of Saxenda?

People who take Saxenda may experience serious long-term side effects, such as thyroid tumors, including cancer.

Inform your doctor if you develop a lump or swelling in your neck, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, or shortness of breath. These could be symptoms of thyroid cancer caused by prolonged use of Saxenda.

How long is it safe to take Saxenda?

There is no time limit for treatment with Saxenda, but you should only use it for 16 weeks to see if it works. If you do not see a 5% weight loss when combined with a calorie-controlled diet and regular exercise, you should discontinue using it.

Who shouldn’t take Saxenda?

There are a few people who should not take Saxenda.

  •   You should avoid the medication if you are under the age of 18 or over the age of 75.
  •   Women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or who are breastfeeding should also avoid using Saxenda because it can harm their babies.
  •   Avoid Saxenda if you have heart problems, serious gut issues, inflammatory bowel disease, or if you are allergic to liraglutide.
  •   If you have or have had pancreas, kidney, or liver problems.
  •   If you have or have had depression, suicidal thoughts, or mental health issues.

What should I avoid while using Saxenda?

  1. Even if the needle has been changed, never share an injection pen, cartridge, or syringe with another person. Sharing these devices can spread infections or diseases from one person to the next.
  2. Saxenda should not be used in conjunction with other weight loss products, diet pills, or appetite suppressants.
  3. You must avoid certain foods on Saxenda to follow a calorie deficit diet. Certain calorie-dense foods and empty calorie foods that you can limit are:
  •   Sugar
  •   Jaggery
  •   Sweets
  •   Fatty meat
  •   Hydrogenated fats
  •   Fried foods
  •   Processed foods
  •   Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  •   Alcohol, etc.

FAQs

Is Saxenda required to be refrigerated?

Refrigerate unopened Saxenda pens between 36°F and 46°F. Do not freeze them. Saxenda can be refrigerated or stored at controlled room temperature (59°F to 86°F) for 30 days after the first injection. Keep the pen away from direct sunlight and heat.

How long can a Saxenda pen be used?

A Saxenda pen can be used for 30 days. The medication expires after 30 days and must be discarded, even if there is still medication inside. The duration of each pen is determined by the dose taken. The pen has a scale that indicates how much medication is still inside.

What should you do if you miss a dose?

If you forget to take your daily dose of Saxenda, take it as soon as you remember. The following day, take your next daily dose as usual. To make up for a missed dose, do not take an extra dose of Saxenda or increase your dose the next day.

Is Saxenda available without a prescription? Is it available in pill form?

No, Saxenda is not an over-the-counter medication. It is only available with a doctor’s prescription.

Saxenda is also not available in pill or tablet form. It can only be obtained as an injection. Saxenda in pill form is not available because it is unlikely to work. Because taking the drug by mouth would cause your digestive system to break it down too quickly for it to be effective.

Wrapping Up

Saxenda influences weight loss by suppressing appetite, allowing people to consume fewer calories. Saxenda is effective in helping weight loss. If you want to see any results from Saxenda injections, you must follow a low-calorie diet and exercise regularly. 

Furthermore, Saxenda is not for everyone and may cause side effects, particularly in people with certain health conditions. So, before starting Saxenda, consult a healthcare professional and mention if you have any health conditions or are taking any medications.

References

  1. A. Mehta. “Liraglutide for weight management: a critical review of the evidence”.    Obes Sci Pract vol 3(1) (2017). 3-14.
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Saxenda in Obesity Services (STRIVE Study) (STRIVE)”. ClinicalTrials.gov.
  3. National Library of Medicine. “Liraglutide Injection”. MedlinePlus.
  4. James P Smith. “SAXENDA (liraglutide [rDNA origin] injection), solution for subcutaneous use ”. (2014).
  5. Christina C. Nexøe‐Larsen. “Effects of liraglutide on gallbladder emptying: A randomized, placebo‐controlled trial in adults with overweight or obesity”.    Wiley-Blackwell Online Open vol 20(11) (2018). 2557-2564.
  6. Aljawhara R AlSaadoun. “Liraglutide Overdose-Induced Acute Pancreatitis”.    Cureus vol 14(1) (2022). 
  7. National Library of Medicine. “Liraglutide-induced acute kidney injury”. PubMed.gov.
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