A Gift on Christmas Eve — Liraglutide Approved for Obesity

We knew it was coming, we just didn’t know when. And then, just as everyone was off to focus on the holiday, came the announcement from FDA — liraglutide approved for obesity.

One might think of this as a tardy approval or an early Christmas gift. FDA had been due to approve it by October 20, but that date came and went without a peep. Experienced observers expected something to happen in time for the year-end rush of final approvals, but one never knows.

Liraglutide 3 mg injection for obesity will be marketed under the brand name of Saxenda. It is a higher dose of liraglutide than is used in the version used for treating diabetes — at a dose of 1.2-1.8 mg — under the Victoza brand name.

It’s not that liraglutide is some sort of wonder drug. It offers respectable safety and efficacy in a much needed additional option for obesity.

What’s impressive in this news is the commitment that Novo Nordisk — already formidable in research and development for diabetes — is making to R&D for obesity. In September, the company announced its investment in an obesity research center in Seattle. We anticipate that Novo Nordisk, with ambitious plans to develop more options for obesity, will create a more competitive environment for innovation in obesity.

Said Joe Nadglowski of the Obesity Action Coalition:

We are delighted that people seeking medical care for obesity will have one more evidence-based option. Even more so, we are delighted with the quickening pace of innovation in the treatment of obesity.

With the availability of more FDA-approved obesity treatment options, we now need to look to society to reduce the stigma of obesity treatments and encourage people to learn more about obesity and its impact on their health.

President Nikhil Dhurandhar of the Obesity Society commented:

Obesity is a complex, chronic disease in need of new treatments. Equipping the nation’s doctors with proven and effective treatments gives new hope to individuals with obesity who have found little success with diet and exercise alone. Saxenda adds an important new option to the obesity treatment toolbox, that now includes a total of five anti-obesity drugs.

Domenica Rubino, an obesity medicine physician and Director of Washington Center for Weight Management and Research, was an investigator in the clinical studies of liraglutide for obesity. She expressed encouragement about this news:

I am excited about the FDA’s decision to approve Saxenda (liraglutide). We are now starting to actually have a real toolbox so that we can individualize treatment for those with obesity. By targeting additional pathways in the brain and GI tract, liraglutide complements the other medications available for us to use.

We like the positive vibe of an early Christmas gift that may open the way to more options for the chronic disease of obesity.

Click here to read the press release from FDA and here to read more from Medscape. Click here for an in-depth interview with ConscienHealth founder Ted Kyle on all of the new obesity medications.

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2 Responses to “A Gift on Christmas Eve — Liraglutide Approved for Obesity”

  1. December 29, 2014 at 11:44 pm, Kishore Reddy said:

    I need more information on this.

    • December 30, 2014 at 5:03 am, Ted said:

      At this point, the best information will come from digging for details at the FDA website. Look for the Saxenda prescribing information to be published soon. It’s still early days.