Diabetes medication Victoza could be next weight loss drug

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Many people taking a popular diabetes medication have been experiencing weight loss as one of the side effects.

Low blood sugar levels brought 59-year-old Anda Lam to her doctor's office years ago, but the conventional treatment worsened her Type 2 diabetes.

She said she was feeling sick and started gaining weight. She continued to gain weight until one day her doctor recommended that she try another drug called Liraglutide or Victoza. Two months later, she was surprised to find out she had lost eight pounds.

Dr. John de Beixedon said Victoza contains medication similar to the hormone GLP-1, which makes people less hungry and helps prevent the liver from making excess sugar. It also regulates insulin.

Some known side effects of the drug are gastrointestinal, such as vomiting, gallstones and nausea, but doctors said the nausea can be managed if people start with small doses and work their way up.

"If you do that over time, over a few weeks, there is a lot less nausea and people are much more compliant with the medication," de Beixedon said.

Researchers decided to study Victoza as a weight loss drug. After one year, they found those on the drug lost 10 percent of their body weight compared to those getting a placebo.

The diet drug, named Saxenda, will come in a higher dosage. It will be indicated for non-diabetic people with a BMI of 30 or above.

De Beixedon calls the medication a win-win.

"You would both prevent people from developing a diabetic state and also get them to lose weight and further keep them from developing a diabetic state," he said.

The new diet drug is not a pill, but rather an injectable liquid like Victoza. It comes with a very fine needle that is injected into the abdomen once a day.

Lam said she plans on staying on Victoza until she loses another eight pounds.

"It really helped me with my blood sugar and weight control," she added.

The FDA recently approved Saxenda as a treatment for chronic weight management in addition to exercise and healthy eating. Those with a BMI greater than 40 may not benefit from the drug.
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