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Saxenda (liraglutide) is a prescription-only weight loss medication. Learn about who it’s for, how to get it safely, and how much it costs.

Saxenda might be on your radar if you want to lose or maintain weight. It belongs to a group of drugs called glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) receptor agonists, and contains the active ingredient liraglutide, which has been shown to promote weight loss when combined with a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercise regimen.

If you’re considering Saxenda for weight loss, talk with a healthcare professional, either in person or online, to see if it’s right for you.

Continue reading to discover more about Saxenda and how to access it safely.

Saxenda (liraglutide) is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of a broader weight loss plan that includes a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

It belongs to a class of drugs known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. These drugs mimic glucagon-like peptide 1, a hormone that regulates appetite, resulting in decreased hunger and reduced calorie intake.

Saxenda comes in prefilled multidose injection pens to deliver a daily subcutaneous injection in your stomach, thigh, or upper arm. The starting dose is 0.6 milligrams (mg), which you can increase to 3 mg for maintenance.

Doctors may prescribe Saxenda for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kilograms per square meter (kg/m2) or higher, or 27 kg/m2 or higher and at least one weight-related condition, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.

It’s also approved for children ages 12–17 with a body weight above 132 pounds (lb) [60 kilograms (kg)] and a BMI of 30 kg/m2, to help them lose weight and maintain their weight.

But it’s not just about numbers on a scale. Saxenda is intended for those with difficulty losing weight through diet and exercise alone and who may need additional support to effectively manage their weight.

If you’re considering Saxenda, it’s important to discuss it with your healthcare professional to fully understand the benefits and any potential risks and to make sure it aligns with your health profile and weight management goals.

FDA warning about Saxenda

The FDA has issued boxed warnings (formerly black box warnings) for several GLP-1 medications used for weight management. They include Saxenda (liraglutide), Zepbound (tirzepatide), and Wegovy (semaglutide).

The warnings highlight a potential risk of thyroid cancer. This concern is based on animal studies where the drugs led to thyroid C-cell tumors.

Therefore, people with a history or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or those with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, a genetic condition that increases the risk of thyroid cancer, should not use these medications.

Although direct evidence in humans is lacking, the possibility of a similar risk has prompted the FDA to advise caution.

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While Saxenda can be an effective tool for weight management, it does have some potential side effects, including:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • heartburn, indigestion, or GERD
  • bloating and belching
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • mood changes
  • drug interactions
  • redness, swelling, and pain at the injection site
  • low blood sugar

Some less common but more severe side effects may include:

When using Saxenda, keep a close eye on your health. Report any concerning symptoms to your healthcare professional immediately. They can offer more detailed information and help manage any side effects, making sure your treatment plan is safe and effective.

It’s not just about numbers on a scale. Saxenda is intended for those with difficulty losing weight through diet and exercise alone and who may need additional support to effectively manage their weight.

You can visit a healthcare professional in person or use a telehealth platform to obtain a prescription for Saxenda.

In person

Meeting with a healthcare professional to get a Saxenda prescription has several advantages over telehealth options. You’ll benefit from a comprehensive physical exam, including blood pressure and other vital sign readings, and the opportunity to ask questions and discuss options.

Your healthcare professional can also order lab work to assess your blood and metabolic markers to determine if Saxenda is suitable. They can then tailor a weight loss plan specifically to your needs.

Furthermore, in-person visits allow for more effective follow-up and closer progress monitoring. You’ll also have access to supplementary resources like nutrition and exercise guidance.

Start the process by choosing a healthcare professional with expertise in weight management. Your primary care provider can offer a referral if you’re uncertain where to begin.

Should you and your healthcare professional agree that Saxenda is appropriate, you’ll get a prescription to fill at the pharmacy of your choice.

Telehealth

Calibrate

This in-depth, medically supervised weight loss program integrates FDA-approved medications like Saxenda with personalized coaching and lifestyle modifications. Its approach is rooted in the latest scientific research, focusing on metabolic health to achieve lasting weight loss.

When you sign up with Calibrate, you’ll receive a thorough health assessment from a healthcare professional who can prescribe Saxenda if it aligns with your weight loss goals and medical needs.

Calibrate is $146 monthly or $1,749 annually, which doesn’t include the cost of Saxenda. However, the Calibrate team will work with your insurance to help you get medication coverage for $25 per month or less.

Read our full review of Calibrate.

Everlywell Weight Care+

This weight management service stands out for its at-home testing kits, which evaluate various health markers relevant to weight loss. Based on these results, Everlywell connects you with healthcare professionals who can prescribe weight loss medications like Saxenda. It also offers personalized nutrition and exercise plans.

This platform emphasizes a holistic view of health, aiming to address the underlying causes of weight gain and providing a structured path toward sustainable weight management. You’ll pay $99 monthly plus the cost of Saxenda and lab testing.

PlushCare

This user-centric telehealth service connects you with top doctors to address various health concerns, including weight management.

When using PlushCare for weight loss, you can expect a thorough evaluation during a virtual consultation, where a doctor assesses your health history and weight loss objectives. If Saxenda is deemed appropriate, PlushCare’s doctors can prescribe it directly.

The weight loss program costs $14.99 monthly, plus insurance copay or $129 for the first visit, then $99 monthly.

Learn more about these and other telehealth options.

The cost of Saxenda depends on several factors, including your insurance coverage, treatment plan, and pharmacy. The list price for Saxenda before insurance or discounts is $1,349.02 per pen, which can last from 6–17 days, depending on the dosage.

NovoCare has previously provided a savings offer program for Saxenda. The offer expired at the end of 2023, but other savings programs may be available in the future.

Check with your healthcare professional, pharmacy, or insurance provider for updated and accurate pricing information. They can provide more specific details based on your circumstances and coverage.

Saxenda (liraglutide) and Ozempic (semaglutide) are both GLP-1 receptor agonists. However, they differ in their active ingredients and serve different primary purposes.

Saxenda is specifically approved for weight management, while Ozempic targets blood sugar management in adults with type 2 diabetes. That said, some doctors may prescribe Ozempic off-label for weight loss.

Furthermore, semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, has now received FDA approval for weight management under the brand name Wegovy, expanding its use beyond diabetes care.

Clinical trials offer insight into their effectiveness: A 2018 clinical trial found semaglutide users experienced more significant weight loss, between 11.2% and 13.8%, compared with those on liraglutide, who lost an average of 7.8%.

Further evidence from a 2022 review showed semaglutide achieving an average weight reduction of 10.09%, while a 2017 review highlighted liraglutide’s ability to consistently produce weight losses of 5–10% versus placebo.

A 2018 clinical trial found semaglutide users experienced more significant weight loss, between 11.2% and 13.8%, compared with those on liraglutide, who lost an average of 7.8%.

Despite their differences, Saxenda and Ozempic share similar side effects. They both carry a boxed warning about the risk of thyroid cancer, underscoring the importance of evaluating the benefits and risks when considering these medications.

A healthcare professional can help you decide between these medications and offer personalized advice based on your medical history, current health status, and weight loss goals.

According to the manufacturer, Saxenda can be administered at any time, without needing to coordinate it with your meals. However, to help make sure that you don’t forget your dose, it’s a good idea to integrate the injection into your daily routine at a set time. 

If you encounter common side effects such as nausea, you may prefer to take Saxenda at a time when these effects are less disruptive to your day. Many find that taking it in the evening or just before bed works best for managing any discomfort.

A range of FDA-approved injection medications for weight management are available by prescription. They include Saxenda (liraglutide), Wegovy (semaglutide), and Zepbound (tirzepatide).

Determining the “best” injection for weight loss begins with a thorough discussion with a healthcare professional. They’ll consider factors like your individual needs, health history, and weight loss objectives and then provide personalized guidance to help you make an informed decision.

Saxenda is administered through prefilled pens that pair with ultra-fine NovoFine disposable needles, helping ensure minimal discomfort during injection. These needles feature a 32 gauge tip and have a length of 6 millimeters, optimized for ease of use. 

You’ll need to purchase needles separately, and in some states, you may require a prescription.

Saxenda helps weight loss by regulating appetite. It mimics the function of the GLP-1 hormone that the intestines naturally produce after a meal. It helps manage appetite and food intake by acting on the brain’s appetite centers.

Saxenda has various effects, including:

  • Appetite suppression: By acting like GLP-1, Saxenda slows gastric emptying, meaning it takes longer for the stomach to empty after eating. This effect helps you feel fuller for longer, reducing your desire to eat.
  • Reduced calorie intake: With its appetite-suppressing effects, Saxenda helps decrease the amount of food you want to eat, reducing calorie intake. Over time, this calorie deficit can result in weight loss.
  • Blood sugar regulation: Although primarily used for weight management, Saxenda also helps regulate blood sugar levels, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

Weight loss medications like Saxenda are most effective when combined with a healthy diet and regular physical activity. It should be part of a comprehensive weight management plan with lifestyle changes to support long-term weight loss and maintenance.

It’s important to note that you should only use GLP-1 medications for weight loss if you have overweight or obesity and related health conditions.

Taking these medications for cosmetic weight loss and purposes other than those approved by the FDA is inappropriate and could lead to serious side effects.

Saxenda is a daily injectable medication in the GLP-1 agonist family. It’s approved to assist in weight loss for those with overweight or obesity.

If you’re interested in Saxenda, it’s best to consult a local healthcare professional for a prescription. An in-person consultation allows for a thorough medical evaluation and a chance to discuss your health and weight loss goals.

While an in-person visit is invaluable, Saxenda is also available through various trustworthy online platforms, providing a convenient option for getting the medication.

Saxenda should be part of a broader weight loss strategy, including dietary changes, increased physical activity, and ongoing support from healthcare professionals. This comprehensive approach maximizes the chance of successful and sustainable weight loss.