Once a day injection aimed at weight management with diet and lifestyle.

Novo Nordisk has launched Saxenda® in New Zealand as a prescription-only, weight loss medicine for people living with obesity.

Saxenda is a once-a-day injection and contains the substance liraglutide, similar to a naturally occurring hormone called GLP-1 released from the gut after a meal.

Novo Nordisk say Saxenda works alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for weight management in adults with a BMI of greater than or equal to 30 (technically obese) and a BMI of greater than or equal to 27 (overweight), when presenting with a weight-related problem. BMI (Body Mass Index) is a simple measure of your weight in relation to your height. It is calculated by dividing your weight in kg by your height in metres squared (BMI=kg/m2).

The Medsafe website says Saxenda can also have effects on weight-related health problems (such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal levels of fats in the blood or breathing problems during sleep, (called obstructive sleep apnoea).


Novo Nordisk's press release on the launch of Saxenda says: "Obesity is still widely thought of as a matter of lifestyle, rather than as a disease. When understood as a disease, the complex challenges and additional detrimental effects of obesity are recognised.

"Obesity puts people at a high risk of developing or worsening other serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, increased blood pressure, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnoea, certain types of cancer, anxiety and depression. What is more, obesity affects people for life.

"The good news is that obesity is a manageable disease and people who live with it can still improve their health and wellbeing. In fact, a weight loss of only five percent is enough to lower the risk of some weight-related health complications, including high blood pressure.

"But weight management has no quick fix. To lose weight, and keep it off, people with obesity need ongoing treatment and care. This is why it is important to recognise obesity as a disease and to treat it using the latest scientific advancements."

People living with the disease rarely seek professional medical help, the press release says, believing they need to deal with obesity on their own. Novo Nordisk say trial data showed that Saxenda, in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity, resulted in greater weight loss than reduced calorie diet and physical activity alone – and can deliver meaningful and sustained weight loss with a well-established safety profile.

In clinical trials with Saxenda, 92 per cent of patients lost weight, with one out of three patients losing more than 10 per cent of baseline bodyweight. In the first year, average weight loss with Saxenda was 11.2 per cent in early responders. Saxenda was evaluated in a global clinical trial programme involving more than 5000 study participants with obesity or who are overweight with weight-related issues.

Photo / supplied.
Photo / supplied.

The Ministry of Health website says the 2018/2019 New Zealand Health Survey found that around one in three adults (aged 15 years and over) were obese (30.9 per cent). The adult obesity rate has increased from 29 per cent in 2011/12 but has not changed significantly since 2012/13.

In Australia, 63 per cent of adults are overweight or obese, with 28 per cent classified as obese. Projections suggest that by 2025, the prevalence of overweight and obesity will increase to more than 70 per cent with approximately one third of the adult Australian population classified as obese.


Although healthy eating and increased physical exercise remain important for any weight loss programme, the addition of prescription medication such as Saxenda may provide some people living with obesity with the help they need to better manage their weight, says Novo Nordisk.

Medsafe says Saxenda works by acting on receptors in the brain that control the appetite, causing people to feel fuller and less hungry – which may help them to eat less food and reduce body weight.

Saxenda is an unfunded prescription medicine - a prescription charge and doctor's fees will apply. The recommended retail price is $499 per pack, which corresponds to $16.40 per day of treatment. All patients will be provided with Novofine® needles at no cost with every pack of Saxenda at all pharmacies in New Zealand.

Saxenda should not be used in children and adolescents under 18 years. This is because the effects of this medicine have not been studied in this age group. Saxenda has risks and benefits. Ask your doctor if it is right for you. Use strictly as directed. If you experience side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional.

Saxenda is indicated as an adjunct to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for weight management in adult patients with an initial Body Mass Index of ≥30 kg/m2 (obese) or ≥27 kgm2 to <30 kg/m2 (overweight) in the presence of at least one weight related comorbidity, such as dysglycaemia (pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus), hypertension, dyslipidaemia or obstructive sleep apnoea. Saxenda contains liraglutide (rys) 6 mg/mL. Saxenda has risks and benefits. Ask your doctor if Saxenda is right for you. Use strictly as directed. If you experience side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional. Please refer to the Saxenda Consumer Medicines Information in your Saxenda pack or access this online at www.novonordisk.co.nz before taking your medication.