What is Saxenda (liraglutide)?

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
Liraglutide (Saxenda) is a drug that was developed to treat type 2 diabetes. It is taken as a daily injection. It was approved as a weight-loss treatment for people without diabetes in 2014. Liraglutide is used to treat people with a BMI of 30 or more, and people with a BMI of 27 to 30 with certain conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. It should be used along with diet and exercise. 

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Saxenda (liraglutide) is a drug that is FDA approved to treat obesity in adults who are obese or overweight and who have at least one obesity-related condition, such as type 2 diabetes or another condition. The drug is given by injection.

You are considered obese if your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or greater. You are considered overweight if your BMI is 27 or greater.

Saxenda is a type of drug called a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. GLP-1 is a naturally occurring hormone made in your gut. Your body releases it when food from a meal reaches your small intestine. The hormone works to help your pancreas produce insulin, make you feel full quickly, decrease your appetite and slow the movement of food through your stomach. Saxenda and similar drugs mimic the action of GLP-1 and will have many of the same effects. Victoza is another GLP-1 receptor agonist that contains the same ingredient as Saxenda. It’s also used to treat type 2 diabetes.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

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