Hi and welcome to another Medical Minute.
Today, I’m going back to talk about anti-obesity medications or weight loss drugs.
The one I have the pleasure of talking about today is called Saxenda, a GLP-1 drug for chronic weight management.
Saxenda came out in 2015 and has been a really good drug for the patients that I’ve prescribed it for since then. It is Saxenda, a GLP-1 drug for Chronic Weight Management and a unique one. It is patterned after a hormone that you and I already have called GLP-1.
GLP-1, we have from our small intestine, a part called the ilium. In our ilium, it gets released as food gets to that part of the small intestine and goes through our blood to the brain and says, “I’m full.” In you and I, unfortunately it only lasts a short period of time, about two minutes. It gets broken down in the brain and then we tend to get hungry again. This form that was modified with a few changes in a few amino acids, gets broken down slower and the half life is about 13 hours so in total, the drug lasts longer and is dosed once a day.
When I talk about this drug, I always have to bring up one of the things that some people take a pause at and that it is a self administered subcutaneous injection. What does that mean? We’re giving ourselves a little shot at the time. I always start by saying and I give myself a little pinch. I pinch my skin right here and I say, “This pinch hurts more than the little needle that we use.”
The medicine comes in a prefilled pen so it’s all ready. You don’t have to draw it up in a syringe. The pen has little numbers on here that you dial in and out depending on your dose. And then the needle is something we would call a 32 gauge needle.
A 32 gauge needle is a very, very small needle. I actually have a 32 gauge here that I’ll show you in a second. You dial in the right dose. You take off the cap. This is a cover on the needle. You take this off and I’m going to show you very closely. That is a 32 gauge needle. It is a very, very, very small needle. When you’re looking at 32 gauge, the higher the number, the smaller the needle. There probably are smaller than 32 gauge needles, but I have not seen one in a very long time. When people think of big needles, those are the ones that are 16 and 18 gauge, ones they use in the operating room or in the emergency room.
What are the benefits of Saxenda? Saxenda is approved for longterm use. It has great weight loss.
Lastly, It does have a few side effects, but the side effects are usually minor. Number one is probably constipation and number two is mild nausea. In this pen, you can hear these little clicks and we can dial in smaller doses in the beginning to make those side effects smaller if we need to. Usually the side effects are transient and mild.
To sum it up, Saxenda, a really good drug for longterm use. In Arizona unfortunately, coverage by your insurance company is spotty at best. My staff is experienced in getting it for you. They will work hard with your insurance company.
Have a great day and I’ll see you next week. Bye bye.