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Liraglutide, a new on-study injectable weight loss medication, may be the next dieter’s dream-come-true for effective weight reduction, says a new study conducted by a group of researchers from  Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark and published in the August 2011 issue of the International Journal of Obesity.

Liraglutide is currently an FDA-approved medication for the once-a-day injectable treatment for type 2 diabetes. Marketed as Victoza, liraglutide can help lower blood sugar level if used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise. Liraglutide is a glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist that helps the pancreas produce insulin more effectively after each meal.

However, in a recent study, it was shown that liraglutide might not just be another medication for type 2 diabetes treatment. It can help in losing weight too. In the said study published by the International Journal of Obesity, the researchers tried to demonstrate the safety and tolerability as well as the long-term effect of liraglutide for losing weight. They designed a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled 2 year study that aimed to observe the effect of liraglutide in a 564 adult population with a mean body mass index of 30 t0 40 kg/m2. Two hundred sixty-eight subjects were able to complete the 2-year-study. The subjects that were assigned to the liraglutide group had a significant 15.4 percent of body fat loss compared to their baseline weights. The researchers also noted a 52 percent drop in prediabetes occurrence and 59 percent reduction in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in patients who used this medication. Blood pressure reading and blood lipid profile also improved with this anti-diabetic medication. The most common adverse effects of liraglutide, according to this study, include transient nausea and vomiting.

Nevertheless, the US Food and Drug Administration also warned doctors of the possible occurrence of thyroid C-cell tumor and acute pancreatitis in patients who use liraglutide. The occurrence of thyroid C-cell tumor is dose-dependent and usually subsides after halting the administration of this drug. On the other hand, pancreatitis was observed to be higher in statistics in those patients who use liraglutide compared to those who use other comparable medications. The FDA instructs practitioners to check the neck area of their patients for possible thyroid nodules before starting their patients on liraglutide.

Thus, liraglutide, no matter how effective it is for the management of obesity in diabetic and non-diabetic patients, should only be administered under the supervision of an experienced health care professional.


International Journal of Obesity (London); Safety, tolerability and sustained weight loss over 2 years with the once-daily human GLP-1 analog, liraglutide; Astrup, A. et al.; August 2011

Medscape Medical News: FDA Warns of Serious Risks Associated With Liraglutide

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