Diabetes Drug Can Now Be Used to Treat Obesity

Besides their names, the only true difference between Saxenda and Victoza is in the dosages — both of which are delivered via injection with Novo Nordisk’s Flexpen device.

For patients prescribed the drug under the name Victoza for diabetes management, doses in a Flexpen can be adjusted gradually up to as high as 1.2 milligrams per day. When prescribed specifically for weight loss, Saxenda can be adjusted up 3 milligrams per day.

Some insurance coverage may require a note from the doctor, says Camilleri, explaining that all other weight loss approaches to achieve “clinically meaningful weight loss” have failed, especially when other obesity-related comorbidities are present.

Can drug help non-obese patients?

“We use Victoza a lot,” explained Marcey Robinson MS, RD, CSSD, BC-ADM, co-founder of Achieve Health & Performance in Colorado.

The company’s clients include patients with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.

“I’ve been using liraglutide with my patients since 2005,” Robinson told Healthline. “In terms of the GLP-1 drugs, it’s become the ‘go-to’ for weight loss.”

In her practice, Robinson says she sees success when using liraglutide in patients with prediabetes who need to lose a little weight, reduce their HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin test), and in a sense, “re-set themselves.”

“It’s not a miracle drug, but it does make it easier for people to lose weight because they aren’t as hungry between meals. And they feel full more quickly, to the point that if they do overeat they will feel sick,” explains Robinson.

If a patient is experiencing strong symptoms of nausea, Robinson continues their current dose for at least two weeks, giving their body time to adjust to the medication before making another increase.

Another important part of preventing nausea is simply eating less. Robinson instructs all her patients to begin by putting two to three fewer tablespoons of food on their plate in order to avoid any gastrointestinal distress.

“For weight loss, it works,” said Robinson.

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