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Liraglutide (Saxenda°) in obesity in adolescents: not acceptable

Liraglutide is authorised for use in patients with type 2 diabetes and in obese adults. Its marketing authorisation has now been extended to include obese adolescents.

  • Obesity affects children as well as adults. There is no consensus over the definition of obesity in children. No drugs have been shown to be effective in reducing either the short-term clinical complications of obesity (diabetes, joint problems) or its long-term complications (in particular cardiovascular events and osteoarthritis).
  • Liraglutide is an agonist of the body’s receptors for glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) produced in the gastrointestinal tract after meals.
  • The use of liraglutide in obese adolescents was mainly authorised on the basis of a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial, as an adjunct to lifestyle and dietary measures. After 56 weeks of treatment, body mass index in the liraglutide group was about 1.6 kg/m2 lower than in the placebo group, corresponding to a mean difference in body weight of 5 kg. 26 weeks after stopping treatment, the effect of liraglutide had receded.
  • Liraglutide can cause gastrointestinal adverse effects (especially vomiting) and hypoglycaemia in adolescents, and exposes them to some poorly defined risks such as cancer, and possibly suicidal ideation and suicide.

©Prescrire 1 November 2022

Source: "Liraglutide (Saxenda°) in obesity in adolescents" Prescrire International 2022; 31 (242): 260-261. Subscribers only.

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For more information:

"Liraglutide - Victoza° and
type 2 diabetes in children
aged 10 years and above"
Prescrire Int 2021;
30 (223): 38.
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"Liraglutide and obesity.
Still no satisfactory weight
loss drug"
Prescrire Int 2016;
25 (167): 5-8.
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