Last December the FDA approved a drug called liraglutide (brand name Saxenda) under the conditions that further testing be conducted.
Saxenda is an injectable drug which will be limited to helping obese individuals who have weight-related health conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol). Since 2012 there have been four weight loss drugs approved by the FDA.
Dr. Xavier Pi-Sunyer lead the research on the Saxenda. He’s a doctor at the Columbia University Medical Center and explained to CBS news how the drug works. He said it “tends to decrease gastric emptying, the emptying of the stomach. And it gives signals to the brain to lower hunger and increase satiety”.
This week, the results of the FDA mandated testing have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study was just over one year long. It had 3, 700 participants from six different continents. The participants were split into two groups. Both groups were on a reduced calorie diet and increased exercise routine. One group took a placebo drug and the other group took the daily shot of Saxenda (which is a shot under the skin).
The group that took Saxenda showed higher weight loss and control of blood sugar levels than those who were in the placebo group. On average, those taking the placebo lost 6 lbs compared to the Saxenda group who lost an average of 18 lbs!
Dr. Pi Sunyer stated:
“The overall effect of the drug was very good and very comparable or better than the drugs that are now on the market.”
While all of that sounds fantastic, it’s important to note that the drug is quite expensive and not without side effects. Common side effects include: nausea, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, low blood sugar and loss of appetite. I know, that sounds like a lot but there’s more! The less common side effects could include: pancreas inflammation, gallbladder disease, lowered kidney function, suicidal thoughts, increased heart rate, and possible increased risk of thyroid cancer.
The list of potential side effects is quite long, but manufacturers of the drug insist that the risks do not outweigh the benefits. As for me, I think I’d rather try and do it the old fashion way!