Liraglutide: Diabetes Drug Significantly Helps Weight Loss, Study Finds

A medication for treating diabetics can help obese people without diabetes lose weight and keep it off, according to the results of a year long study.

63 per cent of study participants who recieved the drug liraglutide (brand names Saxenda or Victoza) for 56 weeks, lost a minimum of 5 per cent of their body weight compare to 27 per cent of the placebo group.

Liraglutide, an injectable drug developed by Novo Nordisk for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, is used at a lower dose for treating that condition. Some patients have noticed it seemed to help them lose weight.

First author Dr Xavier Pi-Sunyer, professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, commented:

“It is a very effective drug. It seems to be as good as any of the others on the market, so it adds another possibility for doctors to treat patients who are having trouble either losing weight or maintaining weight loss once they get the weight off.”

3,731 patients were involved in the study, all were 18 and older and each had a body mass index of 30 or higher (healthy BMI range for most people is 19-25 BMI).

Those who received the drug were given three milligrams, a higher dose than is prescribed for diabetes patients (1.8 milligrams), injected under the skin daily.

People in the placebo group lost an average of six pounds. Those who were given the drug averaged about three times more weight loss.

Chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Temple University Health Kevin Williams, not involved in the study, characterised the weight loss in the liraglutide group as “significant.”

Elias Siraj, director of the Diabetes Program at Temple University Hospital, writing in an accompanying editorial in the journal, said:

“This is another approach in tackling the obesity epidemic in our country. Fortunately, even modest weight loss of five percent to 10 percent makes nearly all medical issues more manageable.”

Liraglutide has been approved by the FDA for treatment for obesity in adults with some related comorbidity since December 23, 2014.

A Randomized, Controlled Trial of 3.0 mg of Liraglutide in Weight Management
Xavier Pi-Sunyer, M.D., Arne Astrup, M.D., D.M.Sc., Ken Fujioka, M.D., Frank Greenway, M.D., Alfredo Halpern, M.D., Michel Krempf, M.D., Ph.D., David C.W. Lau, M.D., Ph.D., Carel W. le Roux, F.R.C.P., Ph.D., Rafael Violante Ortiz, M.D., Christine Bjørn Jensen, M.D., Ph.D., and John P.H. Wilding, D.M. for the SCALE Obesity and Prediabetes NN8022-1839 Study Group
N Engl J Med 2015; 373:11-22July 2, 2015DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1411892

Illustration: “Liraglutide” by A2-33 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons