Medically reviewed: November 14, 2017
What is liraglutide?
Liraglutide is similar to a hormone that occurs naturally in the body and helps control blood sugar, insulin levels, and digestion.
The Victoza brand of liraglutide is used together with diet and exercise to improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Victoza may also help reduce the risk of serious heart problems such as heart attack or stroke in adults with type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Victoza is usually given after other diabetes medicines have been tried without success. Victoza is not for treating type 1 diabetes.
The Saxenda brand of liraglutide is used together with diet and exercise to help people lose weight when they have certain health conditions. Saxenda is not for treating type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Saxenda is not a weight-loss medicine or appetite suppressant.
Liraglutide may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Do not use Saxenda and Victoza together.
You should not use liraglutide if you have multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (tumors in your glands), a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer, insulin-dependent diabetes, or diabetic ketoacidosis.
In animal studies, liraglutide caused thyroid tumors or thyroid cancer. It is not known whether these effects would occur in people using regular doses.
Call your doctor at once if you have signs of a thyroid tumor, such as swelling or a lump in your neck, trouble swallowing, a hoarse voice, or shortness of breath.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use liraglutide if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (tumors in your glands);
a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (a type of thyroid cancer); or
diabetic ketoacidosis (call your doctor for treatment).
To make sure liraglutide is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
stomach problems causing slow digestion;
kidney or liver disease;
high triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood);
a history of problems with your pancreas or gallbladder; or
a history of depression or suicidal thoughts.
In animal studies, liraglutide caused thyroid tumors or thyroid cancer. It is not known whether these effects would occur in people using regular doses. Ask your doctor about your risk.
It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
It is not known whether liraglutide passes into breast milk or if it could affect the nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding.
Liraglutide is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.
How should I use liraglutide?
Liraglutide is usually given once per day. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Do not use Saxenda and Victoza together. These two brands contain the same active ingredient but they should not be used together.
Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
Liraglutide is injected under the skin at any time of the day, with or without a meal. You will be shown how to use injections at home. Do not self-inject this medicine if you do not understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of used needles and syringes.
Liraglutide comes in a prefilled injection pen. Ask your pharmacist which type of needles are best to use with your pen.
Your care provider will show you the best places on your body to inject liraglutide. Use a different place each time you give an injection. Do not inject into the same place two times in a row.
Do not use the medicine if it has changed colors or looks cloudy, or if it has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can happen to everyone who has diabetes. Symptoms include headache, hunger, sweating, irritability, dizziness, nausea, fast heart rate, and feeling anxious or shaky. To quickly treat low blood sugar, always keep a fast-acting source of sugar with you such as fruit juice, hard candy, crackers, raisins, or non-diet soda.
Your doctor can prescribe a glucagon emergency injection kit to use in case you have severe hypoglycemia and cannot eat or drink. Be sure your family and close friends know how to give you this injection in an emergency.
Also watch for signs of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) such as increased thirst or urination, blurred vision, headache, and tiredness.
Use a disposable needle only once. Follow any state or local laws about throwing away used needles and syringes. Use a puncture-proof "sharps" disposal container (ask your pharmacist where to get one and how to throw it away). Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.
Liraglutide is only part of a complete treatment program that may also include diet, exercise, weight control, regular blood sugar testing, and special medical care. Follow your doctor's instructions very closely.
Storing unopened injection pens: Store in the refrigerator. Do not freeze liraglutide, and throw away the medication if it has become frozen. Do not use an unopened injection pen if the expiration date on the label has passed.
Storing after your first use: You may keep "in-use" injection pens in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Protect the pens from moisture, heat, and sunlight. Use within 30 days. Remove the needle before storing an injection pen, and keep the cap on the pen when not in use.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Skip the missed dose and use the next regularly scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss 3 or more doses of Saxenda.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while using liraglutide?
Never share an injection pen, cartridge, or syringe with another person, even if the needle has been changed. Sharing these devices can allow infections or disease to pass from one person to another.
Liraglutide side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; fast heartbeats; dizziness; trouble breathing or swallowing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
racing or pounding heartbeats;
sudden changes in mood or behavior, suicidal thoughts;
signs of a thyroid tumor--swelling or a lump in your neck, trouble swallowing, a hoarse voice, feeling short of breath;
symptoms of pancreatitis--severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea with or without vomiting, fast heart rate;
severely low blood sugar--extreme weakness, confusion, tremors, sweating, fast heart rate, trouble speaking, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, fainting, and seizure (convulsions); or
kidney problems--little or no urination; painful or difficult urination; swelling in your feet or ankles; feeling tired or short of breath.
Common side effects may include:
nausea (especially when you start using liraglutide), vomiting, stomach pain;
headache, dizziness; or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect liraglutide?
Liraglutide can slow your digestion, and it may take longer for your body to absorb any medicines you take by mouth.
Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with liraglutide, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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- Drug class: incretin mimetics
Other brands: Victoza