FDA Approves New Drug to Treat Obesity

By Paul Gaita 01/06/15

While doctors remain skeptical, the FDA recently approved a new injectable weight loss drug designed to combat obesity. 

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Saxenda, a formulation of Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug, liraglutide, was recently approved for use by the FDA with a few restrictions. The medicine is currently only available to patients with a body mass index of 30 or higher. Patients must also be diagnosed with at least one weight-related health condition. While a study has shown Saxenda to be more effective than its competitors, some doctors still have their doubts.

Saxenda helps patients lose weight by slowing the digestive process, and a study of the drug revealed it does indeed work. Half the patients lost at least 5% of their body weight, compared to 2-5% by its competitors.  

However, physicians are concerned about the drug’s method of administration and feel some patients may be leery of taking injections. Many doctors believe Saxenda will be met with success despite this fact, but some have reservations about the drug’s overall effectiveness. 

“None of the available drugs and none on the horizon are sufficiently powerful to eradicate obesity,” said Lee Kaplan, chair of the clinical committee of the Obesity Society. 

Saxenda will cost approximately $40 per day, much higher than its competitors cost of only $5-6. But Medicaid will likely cover the costs since Saxenda is based on liraglutide, a diabetes drug that has been proven to be safe.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites. 

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