Obesity and diabetes have significant ties as individuals with weight problems are more likely to develop the metabolic disease. Now, a new study has found that the injectable drug liraglutide (Saxenda), which is prescribed for treating type 2 diabetes can help obese individuals lose weight.
For the new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on July 1, Xavier Pi-Sunyer, from Columbia University Medical Center, and colleagues gave liraglutide to 63 individuals for 56 weeks and found that they lost at least 5 percent of their body weight, which experts believe is needed for making a difference in health problems associated with obesity.
Participants of the study, who had a BMI of at least 30 or at least 27 if they have high blood pressure or a high cholesterol level, were given a reduced calorie diet and asked to increase their exercise regimen.
They were likewise given the 3.0-milligram dose of liraglutide every day or a placebo. Those in the liraglutide group lost 18.5 pounds over a 56-week period while those who took the placebo only lost 6 pounds.
Only 27 percent of those in the placebo group lost 5 percent of their body weight. Only a tenth of this group likewise lost more than 10 percent of their body weight, which is significantly lower than the 33 percent of those in the liraglutide group.
"3.0 mg of once-daily subcutaneous liraglutide, as an adjunct to diet and exercise, was associated with clinically meaningful weight loss in overweight or obese patients, with concurrent reductions in glycemic variables and multiple cardiometabolic risk factors, as well as improvements in health-related quality of life," the researchers reported.
Among the most common side effects of the drug include diarrhea and nausea. Those who are in medication likewise have increased odds of suffering from gallbladder-related problems that the authors said could have been caused by above-average weight loss.
Pi-Sunyer said that initially giving patients a lower dose of the drug and increasing the dose gradually can help reduce gastrointestinal side effects. Most patients, however, no longer suffer from nausea after they use the drug for four to six weeks.
Using the drug also appears to have its drawbacks. For one, a month's treatment costs about $1,000 and the drug is administered via injection. Insurers do not also cover the drug as treatment for obesity and patients may have to use the drug indefinitely to maintain weight loss.
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