Liraglutide (marketed under the brand name Victoza), a long-acting treatment for type 2 diabetes, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in higher-dose prescription form for weight loss in obese patients, and in otherwise overweight people who have at least one weight-related problem such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes. Victoza, when used for weight loss in its higher-dose prescription form, will be sold under the brand name Saxenda, which will be administered as a daily injection in a pen-like dispenser.
Novo Nordisk was granted approval for liraglutide five years ago for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Victoza falls into a newer class of diabetes therapy in that it transmits to the pancreas the signal to make extra insulin after meals.
In the treatment for obesity, Saxenda not only boosts the release of insulin after meals but also works in the digestive system and the brain to increase the feeling of fullness and also works to suppress the appetite.
A person is determined to be obese when they are 30 percent over a healthy weight for their body, and obesity is a growing worldwide health concern. Numerous diets drugs have come and gone in the past, but with little effect on the growing epidemic of obesity.
In most cases, insurance companies do not pay for weight loss drugs. Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical company, with headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey, is currently speaking with insurers. At this time, no price has been set for Saxenda, but Saxenda is hoped to be available in the early half of 2015.
The FDA is requiring evaluations for long term, post-marketing safety of Saxenda in regards to cardiac effects, with post-marketing studies in children, and also to look for breast cancer and thyroid cancer incidents.