HEADLINES Published December31, 2014 By Bernadette Strong

Anti-Obesity Drug to Get Heavy Promotion in the U.S.

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Saxenda, a new medication to treat obesity, will get a big marketing push from its maker, Novo Nordisk
(Photo : Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

The pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk will be promoting its newly approved anti-obesity drug Saxenda heavily in the United States. One sixth of its 3,000-person sales force will be meeting with physicians to sell them on the new product when it launches in the first half of 2015.

Saxenda may be a blockbuster for Novo Nordisk, with sales of more than $1 billion a year quite possible. It is a drug known generically as liraglutide [rDNA] origin and will have to be injected once a day. It was approved just before Christmas as a treatment for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or a BMI of 27 plus a health problem such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol levels.

Saxenda is the same drug as Victoza, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes, which is also a Novo Nordisk product. The two drugs will be available at a different dosage. Liraglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist. Saxenda is not approved for use against diabetes and Victoza is not approved for use against obesity.

This product is not a miracle cure or magic weight loss drug. It needs to be used in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and increased exercise. Saxenda carries several risks, including an increased risk of thyroid tumors, pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, and seriously low blood sugar. It can also cause depression and suicidal thoughts. However, the most common side effects are nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and headache.

Saxenda should not be used by anyone with thyroid cancer or a history of thyroid cancer or anyone who has had pancreatitis, gallstones, or a history of alcoholism.

In a clinical trial with more than 5,000 participants, injecting Saxenda once a day-along with a reduced calorie diet and an exercise program-resulted in greater weight loss than diet and exercise alone.

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