The TGA has approved a self-injectable weight loss medication called Saxenda ( Liraglutide) for the treatment of obestity. The medication was originally approved by the FDA in America as a treatment for diabetes in 2010 and Europe in 2009. It has only recently been promoted in a different dose for weight loss treatment.


  • It is an analogue of a hormone that suppresses appetite, human glucagon-like peptide-1 ( GLP-1)
  • It has been approved as a support to diet and exercise for people who have a BMI of 30 and above or a BMI of 27  - 29 with a weight-related co-morbidity such as diabetes, pre-diabetes, dyslipidaemia or obstructive sleep apnoea
  • It is available on private prescription and will cost about $400 per month
  • Injections are given subcutaneously, once per day
  • In a 56 week trial funded by the manufacturer, almost two-thirds of patients using the medication reduced their weight by 5%  compared with a quarter of the placebo group ( study group was 4000 people)
  • Nausea and diarrhoea are the most common side-effects ( some non-manufacturer subsidized research gave a frequency of 48% ) The effects commonly lessened over time and did not result in many people  ceasing treatment. . Many people using the medication have baseline heart rate increases of 2-4 beats per minute. The incidence of hypoglycaemia requiring treatment was low even if the patient was also taking metformin ( diabetes treatment). There are safety concerns regarding pancreatitis and thyroid tumours. The medication has not got long term non-industry  trials available, particularly regarding safety and has only been available for use since 2009/2010 in USA and Europe.
  • The company has launched a pharmacist-led weight-loss support program to promote the medication in Australia. The first month will be offered free from the GP writing the prescription for  further medication , with free access to support and information from the participating pharmacies
  • It has not been studied in people using insulin , must be used with caution in those with kidney or liver disease and is contraindicated in those people who have a history of GLP-1 analogue associated pancreatitis









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