Saxenda, a weight-loss drug intended for obese and overweight adults, became available in the United States on Wednesday, Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk said. The drug joins just a handful of other medicines intended to combat obesity, as rates of obesity continue to rise in the country.
The drug is priced at $1,068 per month, although the actual cost will vary depending on rates negotiated by health insurance companies, Reuters reported. Obesity affects more than a third of adults in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say, but was recognized by the American Medical Association as a disease only recently, in 2013.
For Novo Nordisk, launching Saxenda in the United States is intended to open a new source of revenue, and the company expects annual sales of the drug to ultimately reach $1 billion, Reuters reported. “Novo Nordisk is pleased to offer a new treatment that can provide some patients … a new path to achieving clinically meaningful weight loss,” Jesper Hoiland, president of Novo Nordisk, said in a statement.
There are no miracle drugs for weight loss, experts say. “The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is through lifestyle changes,” the Mayo Clinic says. “Prescription weight-loss pills may be beneficial, but they won’t be magical. They do not work for everyone, and their benefit may be modest.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Saxenda in December 2014 as an injectable drug to help with weight management for adults who were overweight or obese. Obesity and overweight are clinical conditions where individuals’ body mass indexes -- measures of body fat according to weight and height -- are 30 and 27, respectively.
The FDA had previously approved three drugs, in pill form, for weight loss. But those have had unspectacular sales, due to high drug costs that were not always covered by insurers, the New York Times reported.