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Weight Loss Medications: FDA approved “Liraglutide”

Some drugs are creating a sensation in the weight-loss industry and news articles about these are the reason I started searching for studies and research about these[1]. Needless to say, that high costs and possibility of unexplained pains and side-effects are not deterrents for the buyers. However, how effective are these in short or long term? Do these have any known side-effects? How do they work?

A large-scale study[2] on the effect of Liraglutide show that there is statistically significant evidence of weight-loss and waist circumference reduction with this drug. A recent review[3] which compared other FDA approved weight loss medications with Liraglutide, also reached a favourable conclusion regarding the efficacy of this drug.

Liraglutide is marketed under the brand name Victoza in the U.S., U.K. UAE, Kuwait, India, Iran, Canada, Europe and Japan. It has been launched in Germany, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Japan, Canada, the United States, Brazil, France, Malaysia and Singapore. Liraglutide is also known to be marketed as Saxenda in Australia, Canada and the U.S.

Now here’s the problem.

Every favourable study listed in this “critical” review with a very favourable conclusion has direct or indirect links and funding from the manufacturer of this drug. In 2017, this manufacturer paid for non-disclosure of cancer risk for this very drug. Nausea and diarrhea are listed as the side effects known causing a high rate of participants in the study to drop out (compared to other similar weight-loss drugs). It is also mentioned that these side effects are amplified[4] with the dosage. The dosage required for weight-loss benefits is almost twice that prescribed for treatment of type 2 diabetes(which the drug was initially created for). The drug has to be used(injected) for more than 6 months(56 weeks) every day at such dosages to produce the results mentioned(as per funded studies). No studies have been done to find out long term(more than 2 years) implications of its use.

So why is it “FDA approved”?

What does the approval mean? Here’s a link to answer that question straight from the horse’s mouth. I have nothing to add to it. It suffices to say, that this approval doesn’t mean a huge lot in terms of safety; though the absence of it would certainly ring warning bells. If a future study shows major risks, the approval can be retracted with a press release like this.

What now?

We all love shortcuts… even at a cost. However, weight-loss is not complex. It is a function of calorie deficit in simple terms. Healthy and permanent weight loss however; requires a degree of discipline and adherence to basics such as sufficient intake, sufficient protein, healthy fats, sufficient micronutrients, hydration, sleep. Adding exercise to the routine; especially strength training, will further improve the health. While injecting a drug daily for 6 months or a year might seem easier that eating according to your body’s needs,… it is not proven to be safe and it is definitely not sustainable. If your food habits do not change, you are going to regain that weight easily and some more.


[1] “Weight-loss drug Saxenda creates marketing sensation in Korea ….” 28 Jun. 2018, http://www.koreabiomed.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=3607. Accessed 20 Feb. 2019.

[2] “Effect of Liraglutide on Body Weight in Non … – ClinicalTrials.gov.” https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/results/NCT01272219. Accessed 20 Feb. 2019.

[3] “Liraglutide for weight management: a critical review of the … – NCBI – NIH.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5358074/. Accessed 20 Feb. 2019.

[4] “Effects of Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists on … – NCBI – NIH.” 19 Mar. 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3362858/. Accessed 20 Feb. 2019.

Weight Loss Medications: FDA approved “Liraglutide”

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