Last updated on November 29th, 2017
A new diet jab that promises to throw the weight loss process into top gear has been approved by the European Health Commission and may soon be available on the NHS.
Liraglutide (coined the SkinnyJab) works by suppressing the appetite so that the user eats less food and therefore lowers their daily calorie intake. When the body does not receive an adequate supply of calories it begins to burn body fat to obtain the extra calories it needs. In theory dieting is a simple process, but in practice it is much harder.
Liraglutide usage also offers a few other benefits as well:
• Raises good cholesterol levels
• Reduces blood pressure
• Prevents diabetes
• Produces a feel-good factor
Manufacture and Usage
Liraglutide, which will be marketed under the name Saxenda, is made in Denmark by the global healthcare company Novo Nordisk, and is packed inside an injectable pen similar to that used by diabetics.
Only one dose is required each day and users must inject this into their stomach just before breakfast. The drug has been used as a treatment for diabetes since 2009, and in December 2014 the American FDA approved its use as a treatment for obese US adults.
In Europe official approval has taken a little longer and the drug still may not become available on prescription in Britain if British drugs governing bodies consider it too expensive. With an expected cost of £2.25 per day liraglutide will be twice as expensive as the present prescription favourite, Orlistat. It is, however, twice as effective.
What is Liraglutide (skinnyJab) and how does it Work?
Liraglutide is a long-acting glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist that can regulate blood glucose levels, increase insulin secretion, delay gastric emptying, and suppress the appetite.
Experts have been unable to determine the exact way appetite suppression is achieved, but use of the drug is believed to cause a signal to be sent to the brain that misleads it into believing the stomach is full.
However, perhaps the methodology is not as important as the results because liraglutide usage can enable users eat 10% less food than they would normally consume.
Scientific Studies & Expert Opinions
The effectiveness of liraglutide as a weight loss drug has been proven by five clinical trials, but not all experts support the drug’s use. Director of the Centre for Obesity Research at Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen), Professor Iain Broom, believes changing the nation’s eating habits is a better answer than drugs. “Until society changes and the Government’s relationship with the food industry changes, and the food industry itself changes, we are not going to get anywhere very fast,” Broom said.
But Mike Lean (professor of human nutrition at Glasgow University) considers Liraglutide to be an “absolutely life-changing” option. Some of his patients had been confined to wheelchairs due to obesity; liraglutide got them back onto their feet.
[plain]”Most [patients] do well, and some amazingly well,” Lean said. “And it is extraordinarily safe—at least over the two to three years for which we have good evidence—with no signals to suggest serious side-effects.”[/plain]
Side Effects & Health Issues
However unlikely they may be, side effects cannot be ruled out altogether.
Possible side effects include:
In 2013 concerns were raised about a possible link between liraglutide usage and pancreatic cancer. The FDA and the European Medicines Agency looked into the relevant data and failed to find enough evidence to justify the claims.
If Liraglutide becomes available via the NHS it is probable that doctors will treat the drug in a similar manner to Orlistat (fat blocker), and only prescribe it for patients who are clinically obese, or those who have health problems—such as high blood pressure—that may be severely aggravated by their present body weight.
The drug certainly has potential, but whether or not government ruling will allow obese Britons to take advantage of that potential remains to be seen.