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Liraglutide, a new drug for weight management

Obesity is a chronic disease with serious health consequences, but weight loss is difficult to maintain through lifestyle intervention alone. Liraglutide, a glucagon like peptide-1 analogue that is used in pill form to treat diabetes, has been shown to have potential benefit for weight management at a once-daily dose of 3.0 mg, injected subcutaneously. There has been concurrent reductions in glycaemic variables and multiple cardiometabolic risk factors, as well as improvements in health-related quality of life.

The 56-week study was a double-blind trial involving 3731 patients with a BMI above 30 that did not have type 2 diabetes. Patients were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive once-daily subcutaneous injections of liraglutide at a dose of 3.0 mg (2487 patients) or placebo (1244 patients). Both groups received counselling on lifestyle modification.

63.2% of the patients in the liraglutide group as compared with 27.1% in the placebo group lost at least 5% of their body weight, and 33.1% and 10.6%, respectively, lost more than 10% of their body weight. This illustrates the effectiveness in losing weight from this recently marketed drug, which has been approved by the European Medicines Agency but is yet to be licensed in the UK, where still the only available drug is orlistat.

Study link

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