Weight loss treatments have seen significant advancements, providing hope for individuals struggling with obesity. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, patients using GLP-1 receptor agonists, such as liraglutide, have significant weight loss. These promising results highlight the potential of modern weight management solutions in combating obesity and its associated health risks.

Saxenda, a brand name for the injectable drug containing the active ingredient liraglutide, acts as a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. It mimics a naturally occurring hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and aids in weight loss by slowing stomach emptying and triggering insulin release.

In this article, we will explore the mechanism of action behind Saxenda’s main ingredient, its safety profile, potential side effects, and what patients can expect when using this treatment.

Key Takeaways

  • Liraglutide is the active ingredient in Saxenda, a medication used for weight management.
  • It mimics the natural hormone GLP-1 to regulate appetite and metabolism, aiding in weight loss.
  • Based on its clinical efficacy and safety profiles, the FDA has approved Liraglutide for weight management.

What is Liraglutide?

Weight loss.

Liraglutide mimics the naturally occurring GLP-1 hormone that the intestine releases after eating, playing a crucial role in controlling blood sugar levels. As the active ingredient in Saxenda, liraglutide aids both adults and children aged 12-17 who struggle with excess weight or obesity.

By acting like the GLP-1 hormone, liraglutide helps manage blood sugar levels by increasing insulin release when needed and decreasing glucagon production, particularly after meals. This mechanism aids in maintaining better blood sugar control and supports weight management.

Additionally, liraglutide slows stomach emptying and prolongs feelings of fullness, which can help reduce calorie intake and promote weight loss. This multifaceted approach makes liraglutide a valuable component in treatments like Saxenda for managing obesity and related health conditions.

Development and Approval of Liraglutide

Weight loss.

Liraglutide’s journey from a lab concept to Saxenda, a widely used medication for weight management, is marked by years of rigorous testing and research. Scientists started on this path to find a safe and effective solution for obesity and weight-related conditions.

  • Discovery of GLP-1: Researchers first identified the hormone GLP-1 and its role in regulating blood sugar levels after meals.
  • Early Development: Building on this discovery, scientists developed liraglutide, a drug that mimics the actions of natural GLP-1.
  • Preclinical Trials: Before testing on humans, liraglutide was studied in lab animals to confirm its safety and efficacy in controlling blood sugar.
  • Phase I Clinical Trials: Initial trials on human subjects focused on how the body absorbs, metabolizes, and excretes liraglutide.
  • Phase II Clinical Trials: This phase tested liraglutide’s effectiveness at different doses for managing blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
  • Revealing Weight Loss Benefits: During phase II trials, researchers noted significant weight loss in participants using higher doses of liraglutide.
  • Phase III Clinical Trials: Extensive studies were conducted globally to test liraglutide’s safety and effectiveness in larger groups over extended periods. These also explored its potential for weight management.
  • FDA Approval Process: With promising trial results, an application detailing data from all phases of clinical trials was submitted for FDA approval. In 2014, the FDA approved liraglutide under Saxenda specifically for managing obesity alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. This approval marks liraglutide as an essential tool in addressing the growing concerns related to obesity and its associated health issues.

Clinical Efficacy and Safety Profiles

Weight loss.

Liraglutide, Saxenda’s active ingredient, is a powerful weight-loss tool. This drug mimics a natural hormone, GLP-1, which is key to regulating hunger after eating. This action reigns in appetite and lowers food intake. 

Clinical trial data shows that Saxenda, with liraglutide as its active ingredient, has a specific safety profile. However, side effects may occur, including nausea, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues, especially if patients stop and restart Saxenda

Trials have highlighted these as common side effects among users. Despite these side effects, the medicine is approved for long-term weight management in adults and children aged 12-17 who are overweight. 

Formulation of Saxenda

Liraglutide is the active ingredient in Saxenda, playing a crucial role in its effectiveness. This hormone mimics GLP-1, which is naturally released after meals to help regulate blood sugar levels and control appetite.

Incorporating Saxenda into a weight loss regimen under professional guidance can make the journey to shedding pounds smoother. Liraglutide not only aids in obesity management but also works alongside inactive ingredients like disodium phosphate dihydrate and propylene glycol to ensure the medication’s stability and efficacy.

By understanding the role of liraglutide and its supportive components, patients can better appreciate how Saxenda aids in achieving weight loss and improving overall health.

Inactive Ingredients in Saxenda and Their Roles

While liraglutide is the active ingredient in Saxenda responsible for its therapeutic effects, the medication also contains several inactive ingredients that play essential roles in ensuring its stability, safety, and efficacy. These inactive ingredients do not have a direct therapeutic effect but are crucial for the overall formulation of the medication.

  • Disodium Phosphate Dihydrate: Disodium phosphate dihydrate acts as a buffering agent in Saxenda. It helps maintain the solution’s pH balance, ensuring that the medication remains stable and effective throughout its shelf life. This ingredient also helps minimize irritation at the injection site by stabilizing the pH.
  • Propylene Glycol: Propylene glycol is used as a solvent and stabilizer in Saxenda. It ensures that the active ingredient, liraglutide, is evenly distributed throughout the solution. This uniform distribution is critical for consistent dosing and effectiveness. Propylene glycol also helps maintain the solution’s viscosity, making it easier to inject.
  • Phenol: Phenol serves as a preservative in Saxenda. Its primary role is to prevent microbial contamination, ensuring the medication remains sterile and safe for use over its intended period. The presence of phenol extends the medication’s shelf life and protects it from bacterial growth.
  • Sodium Hydroxide and Hydrochloric Acid: These ingredients are used to adjust the pH of the Saxenda solution. Maintaining the correct pH is vital for the stability and solubility of liraglutide. Sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid are carefully balanced to achieve the optimal pH for the medication, ensuring its effectiveness and minimizing the risk of irritation.
  • Water for Injection: Water for injection is the solvent in which all the ingredients are dissolved. It is highly purified and sterile, providing a safe medium for administering Saxenda. Water for injection ensures that the medication is delivered in a form easily absorbed by the body.


Liraglutide, the star in Saxenda, shines bright as a weight loss helper. This magic ingredient mimics a natural hormone and tricks our body into feeling full longer. With its help, saying no to extra snacks becomes easier.

It’s not just about losing pounds—it’s a partner for a healthier you. So, embracing it with the proper diet and exercise can pave the way for lasting change.


1. What is Saxenda, and what are its ingredients?

Saxenda is a prescription medication used for weight management. It contains an active ingredient called Liraglutide.

2. Can you tell me more about the main ingredient, Liraglutide?

Liraglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that regulates your appetite and metabolism to help control body weight.

3. How does Liraglutide in Saxenda work in our bodies?

Liraglutide, the critical component of Saxenda, mimics the effects of natural hormones in your gut, helping you feel fuller sooner and reducing hunger between meals.

4. Are there any side effects of using Saxenda’s active ingredient, liraglutide?

Yes, like all medications, Saxenda’s primary ingredient may cause side effects such as nausea or upset stomach, among others. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment.

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Pi-Sunyer X, Astrup A, Fujioka K, et al. A Randomized, Controlled Trial of 3.0 mg of Liraglutide in Weight Management. New England Journal of Medicine. 2015;373(1):11-22. doi:10.1056/nejmoa1411892

Healthline. (n.d.). Saxenda: What to know. Healthline. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from https://www.healthline.com/health/drugs/saxenda

WebMD. (n.d.). Saxenda subcutaneous: Uses, side effects, and more. WebMD. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-168195/saxenda-subcutaneous/details