Saxenda (liraglutide) is a prescription drug that’s used for weight management. Saxenda comes as a liquid solution inside a prefilled injection pen.

Saxenda is used to help with weight loss in:

  • adults and some children who have obesity
  • adults who are overweight and have a weight-related condition

This drug is meant to be part of a long-term weight management plan that includes a reduced-calorie diet and increased exercise. To learn more, see the “Is Saxenda used for weight loss and weight management?” section below.

Saxenda basics

Saxenda contains the active ingredient liraglutide. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.) It belongs to a group of drugs called GLP-1 agonists.

Saxenda is a brand-name medication that’s not currently available in generic form.

Like most drugs, Saxenda may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Saxenda may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects of using Saxenda for weight loss.

Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:

  • your age
  • other health conditions you have
  • other medications you take

Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Saxenda. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.

Mild side effects

Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Saxenda can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Saxenda’s prescribing information.

Mild side effects of Saxenda that have been reported include:

* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.

Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Saxenda can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Saxenda, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects of Saxenda that have been reported include:

* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.

Help is out there

If you or someone you know is in crisis and considering suicide or self-harm, please seek support:

If you’re calling on behalf of someone else, stay with them until help arrives. You may remove weapons or substances that can cause harm if you can do so safely.

If you are not in the same household, stay on the phone with them until help arrives.

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Side effect focus

Learn more about some of the side effects Saxenda may cause.

Boxed warning

Saxenda has a boxed warning about the risk of thyroid cancer. A boxed warning is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

There may be a possible risk of thyroid cancer with Saxenda. In animal studies, Saxenda’s active drug,* liraglutide, was found to cause thyroid tumors in animals. But it’s not known if the drug causes thyroid cancer in humans.

Due to the possible risk of thyroid cancer, your doctor will likely not prescribe Saxenda if:

  • you or a member of your close family have had a rare type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer (MTC)
  • you have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), a rare inherited condition that raises your risk of thyroid cancer

Symptoms of thyroid cancer may include:

* An active drug is the ingredient that makes a medication work.

What might help

Before starting Saxenda, talk with your doctor about your medical history. Tell them about any conditions you have. This includes conditions that may increase your risk of thyroid cancer, such as MTC or MEN 2. Informing your doctor about your medical history will help them determine whether Saxenda is safe for you to take.

Contact your doctor right away if you have symptoms of thyroid cancer during Saxenda treatment.

Nausea

You may have nausea with Saxenda. This is usually mild and should lessen as you continue to use Saxenda.

In studies, nausea was the most common side effect reported with Saxenda.

Keep in mind that nausea can sometimes happen with Saxenda’s more serious side effects. These include kidney problems, gallbladder problems, pancreatitis, and low blood sugar level.

What might help

If you have nausea from Saxenda, here are a few tips to try to help ease it:

  • Avoid eating large meals. Instead, eat smaller amounts more frequently.
  • Avoid rich, spicy, or greasy foods.
  • Take frequent sips of water.
  • Try ginger or peppermint teas.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing.
  • Avoid lying down after eating.

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, even if you have nausea or vomiting. If you become dehydrated, this can raise your risk of kidney problems with Saxenda.

If you have nausea that’s bothersome, severe, or stops you from eating and drinking as you usually would, talk with your doctor. Also, talk with your doctor if you have nausea with other symptoms, such as abdominal pain, fever, or urinating less than usual.

Your doctor may recommend other ways to ease nausea. They may also check that your nausea is not caused by a more serious condition.

Headache

You may have headaches during Saxenda treatment. These headaches are usually mild and tend to go away as your body gets used to Saxenda.

In studies, headaches were commonly reported in adults who took Saxenda. But they weren’t commonly reported in children.

What might help

If you have bothersome headaches with Saxenda, try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable product.

If you have headaches that are severe or do not get better, talk with your doctor.

Allergic reaction

Some people may have an allergic reaction to Saxenda.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Saxenda. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.

Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Saxenda.

What can I expect before and after Saxenda treatment? Are reviews available from people who’ve used the drug?

Before you start Saxenda, your doctor will help you develop a long-term weight management plan. This should include a low calorie diet and increased exercise. You can also work with a dietitian or nutritionist to develop your plan.

Including Saxenda as part of your plan can help you lose weight and keep it off long term. But different people may have different results with Saxenda. The amount of weight you may lose and any side effects you have will depend on your personal situation.

Saxenda’s prescribing information has details about side effects and how much weight people lost with Saxenda in studies. But keep in mind that everyone’s experience with this drug will be different.

To find out more about what you can expect with Saxenda, talk with your doctor.

Are Wegovy, Contrave, Ozempic, Qsymia, and phentermine alternatives of Saxenda?

Yes, most of these drugs are. Wegovy (semaglutide), Contrave (naltrexone/bupropion), Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate), and phentermine (Adipex-P, Lomaira) are all alternatives to Saxenda. These are all weight loss drugs.

The exception is Ozempic (semaglutide), which is not used for weight loss. Instead, it’s used to treat type 2 diabetes.

If you’d like to learn more about alternatives to Saxenda, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also see the “Saxenda vs. Wegovy” section below for more information.

Is Saxenda available over the counter? And does it come in a pill form?

No, Saxenda is not available over the counter. You can only get it by prescription from your doctor.

Also, Saxenda does not come as pills or tablets. It is only available as an injection. Forms of Saxenda that you can swallow are not available, as they’re unlikely to work. That’s because if you took the drug by mouth, your digestive system would break it down too quickly for it to be effective.

How does Saxenda work? Is it a type of insulin?

No, Saxenda isn’t a type of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps manage your blood sugar level. Instead, Saxenda is a type of drug called a GLP-1 agonist.

GLP-1 is another hormone that helps manage blood sugar levels. It also regulates appetite.

Saxenda works by acting in the same way as GLP-1. The way a drug works is called its mechanism of action.

Saxenda causes your stomach to empty more slowly, which helps you feel fuller after eating. Saxenda also helps reduce your appetite.

Saxenda helps you consume fewer calories, which helps with weight management.

Does Saxenda treat diabetes?

No, Saxenda does not treat diabetes. It’s only used for weight loss.

Saxenda contains the same active drug as a diabetes medication called Victoza. The active drug in both these medications is liraglutide. However, Victoza is used in a lower dosage for diabetes than Saxenda is for weight loss.

How should I store Saxenda?

When you receive a new Saxenda pen, store it in your refrigerator until you start using it. Make sure the pen doesn’t freeze. Do not use Saxenda if it has been frozen.

When you start using the new pen, you can take it out of the fridge and keep it at room temperature. Or you can continue storing it in your fridge. Either way, the pen is good for 30 days after you start using it. If there’s any medication left in the pen after 30 days, safely dispose of the pen.

Never store your pen with a needle attached. Be sure to remove the needle and replace the pen cap after each dose of Saxenda.

To learn how to safely dispose of needles and Saxenda pens, see the manufacturer’s website. And for more information about Saxenda storage and disposal, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Saxenda is a weight loss injection medication. It’s used to help certain adults and children lose weight and keep weight off long term.

Saxenda can be used in adults who:

This drug can also be used in children ages 12 years and older who:

  • weigh more than 60 kilograms (which is about 132 pounds), and
  • have obesity based on their age, height, and sex (equal to an adult BMI of 30 or more)

Saxenda makes you feel fuller after eating and reduces your appetite. It helps you consume fewer calories, which assists with long-term weight management.

You’ll use Saxenda as part of a long-term weight management plan. This should include a reduced-calorie diet and increased exercise. Your doctor can help you develop a plan that works for you.

Note that Saxenda shouldn’t be used in the following situations:

  • in children with type 2 diabetes
  • with other weight loss products, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as herbal products
  • with other medications that contain liraglutide or are from the same group as Saxenda, GLP-1 agonists
  • if you have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC)
  • if you have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2)
  • if you’re pregnant or can become pregnant
  • if you’ve had an allergic reaction to Saxenda or any of its ingredients

Prices of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use.

The drug’s cost per month may vary between people, as will its cost with insurance and cost without insurance.

For more information about Saxenda’s cost, see this related article.

Saxenda coupon or other cost savings

There isn’t a Saxenda manufacturer coupon available, but see below for Optum Perks* coupon options in your area. You can also visit Optum Perks to get price estimates of what you’d pay for Saxenda when using coupons from the site.

Saxenda’s manufacturer provides resources to help you understand your insurance coverage and the cost of treatment. You can visit the manufacturer’s website to learn more.

If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription or how to find the lowest cost for Saxenda, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

You can also check out this article to learn more about saving money on prescriptions.

* Optum Perks is a sister site of Healthline. Optum Perks coupons cannot be used with any insurance copays or benefits.

Save on your Saxenda prescription with Optum Perks

Save on Saxenda without insurance.

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Retail price refers to the manufacturer’s published list price and is up to date as of 3/2023. Retail and discounted prices are U.S.-only and can vary based on region and pharmacy. We cannot guarantee that the discounted price listed here will exactly match the price at your pharmacy. Please contact your pharmacy for the exact price.

Optum Perks and Healthline are subsidiaries of RVO Health.

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Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Saxenda that’s right for you. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.

Form and strength

Saxenda’s form and strength are listed below.

Saxenda form: Injection pen

Saxenda comes as a liquid solution inside a prefilled injection pen. You’ll use the pen to inject Saxenda under your skin. Your doctor will teach you how to give yourself an injection using the pen.

Saxenda strength

The Saxenda pen comes in one strength. It contains 18 milligrams (mg) of liraglutide (the active drug) in 3 milliliters (mL) of solution (18 mg/3 mL). You can set the pen to inject the following doses:

  • 0.6 mg
  • 1.2 mg
  • 1.8 mg
  • 2.4 mg
  • 3 mg

Recommended dosages

The recommended starting dose of Saxenda for adults and children ages 12 years and older is 0.6 mg. You’ll likely take this dose once each day for the first week of treatment. After this, your doctor will gradually increase your dosage over the next few weeks.

The usual recommended dosages are:

  • Week 1: 0.6 mg once each day
  • Week 2: 1.2 mg once each day
  • Week 3: 1.8 mg once each day
  • Week 4: 2.4 mg once each day
  • Weeks 5 and beyond: 3 mg once each day

Try to take your dose at around the same time each day.

If you have bothersome side effects after a dose increase, talk with your doctor. They may recommend delaying your next dose increase for about a week until your side effects lessen.

The recommended maintenance (long-term) dose for adults and children is 3 mg once each day. Adults who have unacceptable side effects at this dose will usually need to stop Saxenda treatment. Children with unacceptable side effects at this dose may have their maintenance dose lowered to 2.4 mg once each day.

Questions about Saxenda’s dosage

Here are some common questions about Saxenda’s dosage.

  • What if I miss a dose of Saxenda? If you miss a dose, skip the missed dose and inject your next dose as scheduled. Do not take any extra doses to make up for missed doses. If you miss three or more doses in a row, talk with your doctor. They’ll likely have you resume Saxenda treatment at the lower starting dose. Then they’ll gradually increase this dose each week, just like at the start of treatment.
  • Will I need to use Saxenda long term? Yes, if Saxenda is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely use it long term.
  • How long does Saxenda take to work? It may take a couple of weeks before you start losing weight with Saxenda. It’s recommended that doctors check the progress of adults after 4 months and children after 3 months. If you have not lost the amount of weight recommended by your doctor by this time, it’s unlikely Saxenda is working for you. Your doctor will probably recommend stopping treatment.

Saxenda and Victoza have the same active drug,* liraglutide. But these prescription drugs have different uses. While Saxenda is prescribed for weight loss and management, Victoza is prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes and to lower the risk of heart problems in certain people.

To learn more about these drugs, see this detailed comparison. Ask your doctor if you have questions about how Saxenda and Victoza are alike and different.

* An active drug is the ingredient that makes a medication work.

You may wonder how Saxenda and Wegovy compare. Saxenda contains the active drug* liraglutide, and Wegovy contains semaglutide. Both medications are prescribed for weight loss and management.

Saxenda and Wegovy are injected under the skin. Saxenda is used once daily, and Wegovy is used once weekly.

For more information about either drug, talk with your doctor. They will recommend the best treatment option for you.

* An active drug is the ingredient that makes a medication work.

Your doctor will explain how you should use Saxenda. They will also explain how much to inject and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.

Receiving Saxenda

You’ll inject Saxenda under your skin once each day. Your doctor will teach you how to give yourself the injection using a prefilled injection pen. Instructions are also available on the manufacturer’s website.

Where Saxenda is injected

You can inject Saxenda into your thigh, abdomen, or upper arm. To avoid injection site reactions, rotate where you inject Saxenda with each dose. If you have questions or concerns about how to use Saxenda, talk with your doctor.

Accessible medication containers and labels

If it’s hard for you to read the label on your prescription, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Certain pharmacies may provide medication labels that:

  • have large print
  • use braille
  • contain a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text into audio

Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a pharmacy that offers these options if your current pharmacy doesn’t.

Using Saxenda with other therapies

Saxenda is meant to be used as part of a long-term weight management plan. This should include a low calorie diet plan and increased exercise plan.

Note that you should not use Saxenda with other weight loss products. These include prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as herbal products and weight loss supplements. It’s not known if using Saxenda with these products is safe.

Your doctor will not prescribe Saxenda with other medications that contain liraglutide or are from the same group as Saxenda, GLP-1 agonists.

Saxenda with meal plans

Your doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist can work with you to develop a nutritious, low calorie meal plan that suits you and your lifestyle.

Questions about using Saxenda

Here are some common questions about using Saxenda:

  • What time of day should I inject Saxenda? You can inject Saxenda at the time of day most convenient for you. But try to stick to the same time each day.
  • Should I take Saxenda with food? You can take your dose either with or without food.
Questions for your doctor

You may have questions about Saxenda and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.

Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:

  • Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
    • How will Saxenda affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
  • Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
  • If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.

Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.

When considering Saxenda treatment, some important things to discuss with your doctor include:

  • your overall health
  • any medical conditions you may have
  • any medications you’re taking
  • your medical history and your family medical history

These and other considerations are described below.

Interactions

Taking a medication with certain vaccines, foods, and other things can affect how the medication works. These effects are called interactions.

Before starting Saxenda treatment, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter types. Also, describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Saxenda.

Interactions with drugs or supplements

You shouldn’t use Saxenda with certain drugs, herbs, or supplements. These include:

Saxenda can also interact with several other types of drugs. These include:

  • insulin
  • sulfonylurea drugs for diabetes, such as glipizide (Glucotrol XL)
  • medications that you take by mouth, such as tablets, capsules, pills, or liquids

This list does not contain all types of drugs that may interact with Saxenda. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about these interactions and any others that may occur when using Saxenda.

Boxed warning

Saxenda has a boxed warning. This is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Risk of thyroid cancer. There may be a possible risk of thyroid cancer with Saxenda. In animal studies, Saxenda’s active ingredient, liraglutide, was found to cause thyroid tumors in animals. But it’s not known if the drug causes thyroid cancer in humans.

Due to the possible risk of thyroid cancer, your doctor will likely not prescribe Saxenda if:

  • you or a member of your close family have had a rare type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer
  • you have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), a rare inherited condition that raises your risk of thyroid cancer

For more information, see the “What are Saxenda’s side effects?” section above.

Warnings

Saxenda may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you start Saxenda treatment. Factors to consider include those in the list below.

  • Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Saxenda or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Saxenda. Ask them what other medications are better options for you.
  • Kidney problems. If you have kidney problems such as kidney failure, Saxenda could worsen your condition. Talk with your doctor about whether Saxenda is safe for you.
  • Liver problems. Saxenda hasn’t been studied in many people with liver problems. If you have a liver problem, talk with your doctor about whether Saxenda is safe for you.
  • History of pancreatitis. In rare cases, Saxenda may cause acute pancreatitis (sudden inflammation of your pancreas). It is unknown if a history of pancreatitis raises your risk of this side effect. If you’ve ever had pancreatitis, tell your doctor. They’ll discuss with you whether Saxenda is right for you.
  • Slow stomach emptying. Saxenda causes your stomach to empty more slowly. It hasn’t been studied in people with slow stomach emptying. If you have this condition, talk with your doctor about whether Saxenda is safe for you.
  • Type 2 diabetes. Saxenda can sometimes cause a low blood sugar level. Adults with type 2 diabetes who take insulin or a sulfonylurea drug have an increased risk of this side effect. Examples of sulfonylurea drugs include glipizide (Glucotrol XL) and glimepiride (Amaryl). If you take one of these drugs for type 2 diabetes, your doctor may check your blood sugar level before you start Saxenda. If needed, they may adjust the dosage of your diabetes medication. Saxenda is not suitable for children with type 2 diabetes.
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts. In rare cases, Saxenda might cause suicidal thoughts or actions. If you have suicidal thoughts or have ever attempted suicide, your doctor will likely not prescribe Saxenda. If you have a history of depression or other mental health conditions, talk with your doctor about whether Saxenda is a good treatment option for you.

Saxenda and alcohol

Drinking alcohol during Saxenda treatment could worsen certain side effects that you may have with this medication. These include headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, dizziness, and low blood sugar level.

As well, drinking large amounts of alcohol can cause dehydration. This can increase your risk of kidney problems with Saxenda.

If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor if it’s safe to do so while using Saxenda.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Saxenda is not safe to use during pregnancy. Weight loss during pregnancy can harm a developing fetus. If you become pregnant during Saxenda treatment, stop using it and contact your doctor.

If you’re planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about safe methods of weight management during this time.

It’s not known if Saxenda passes into breast milk. If you’re breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of using Saxenda.

Do not inject more Saxenda than your doctor prescribes. Injecting more than this can lead to serious side effects.

Symptoms of overdose

Symptoms caused by an overdose can include:

What to do in case you use too much Saxenda

Call your doctor if you think you’ve used too much Saxenda. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number. Or go to the nearest emergency room.

If you have questions about Saxenda treatment, talk with your doctor. They can discuss weight management options with you. And they can help you decide whether Saxenda is a good choice for you.

Examples of questions you might want to ask your doctor about Saxenda treatment include:

  • What should I do if I’m not losing weight with Saxenda?
  • Will I need to keep using Saxenda after reaching my target weight?
  • Does Saxenda have any long-term side effects?

Here are some articles about weight management that you may find helpful:

To get information on different conditions and tips for improving your health, subscribe to any of Healthline’s newsletters. You may also want to check out the online communities at Bezzy. It’s a place where people with certain conditions can find support and connect with others.

Q:

Is it safe to use Saxenda with metformin?

Anonymous

A:

Metformin (Riomet, Fortamet, Glumetza, others) is a medication commonly used for type 2 diabetes. If you take metformin, it’s usually safe to use Saxenda as well. Metformin isn’t known to interact with Saxenda.

But both medications commonly cause digestive side effects, such as nausea and upset stomach. So you could be more likely to have these side effects if you use both medications.

If you use Saxenda with metformin, tell your doctor if you have bothersome digestive side effects. They can suggest ways to help reduce these problems. For example, they may recommend adjusting your doses or trying a different form of metformin. Long-acting forms of metformin tend to cause fewer digestive problems than short-acting forms.

The Healthline Pharmacist TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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