New Weight Loss Drug Saxenda Gets FDA Approval

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New Weight Loss Drug Saxenda Gets FDA Approval

A drug approved to treat diabetes, Novo Nordisk's liraglutide, has now received approval in treatment of obesity as well, making it the second drug approved in 2014 targeted at weight loss.

Marketed as Saxenda, Novo Nordisk will be directing 500 of its 3,000 salespeople to focus on promoting the new obesity drug after receiving FDA approval.

Saxenda is an injectable drug that the Danish pharmaceutical company says it’s been working on for the last decade in efforts to treat obesity. The company says it has spent $1 billion in research and in testing to get it ready for market.

“The new drug is approved for use in chronically obese patients with at least one weight-related health issue,” reports Reuters. “Novo Nordisk said they expects to launch Saxenda in the United States in the first half of 2015.”

Obese individuals must have at least one other weight-related health issue before being eligible for Saxenda. The drug imitates the hormone GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide), which is responsible for telling the brain when the stomach is full. A daily injection of Saxenda is aimed at making obese patients feel fuller and less likely to overeat. It is recommended in conjunction with a healthy diet plan and exercise.

But while that may sound like an effective remedy against obesity, it’s not without risk. Pancreatitis, gall bladder disease, hypoglycemia and changes in mood and behavior have all been associated with use of the drug and less serious side effects include upset stomach, fatigue, dizziness and abdominal pain, Novo Nordisk said in a press release.

Diet and obesity drugs have historically been less than effective, or complicated by serious side effects, even death.

Also aimed at capitalizing on America’s obesity epidemic, Orexigen Therapeutics Inc.'s oral medication Contrave was approved in September.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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