Saxenda is used as weight-loss treatment. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Saxenda is also called liraglutide.

What is Saxenda?

Saxenda is a weight-loss treatment that is used together with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise as part of an overall weight-loss plan. It is recommended for adults with excess weight (a BMI of 27 or more) who also have weight-related medical problems or those with a BMI of 30 or more (obese). The use of weight loss medicines depends on your body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated using your height and weight. Learn more about BMI.

Saxenda suppresses your appetite by increasing feelings of fullness and reducing feelings of hunger, which can lead to eating fewer calories and losing weight. 

In New Zealand Saxenda comes as an injection that it is given under your skin, and is available on prescription only. 

Dose of Saxenda

  • The usual starting dose is 0.6 mg once a day.
  • Your doctor will tell you how long to keep taking this dose. It will be for at least 1 week.
  • Your dose may then be increased by 0.6 mg each week until you reach the recommended dose of 3 mg once a day. 
  • Once you reach the recommended dose of 3 mg in week 5 of treatment, keep using this dose until your treatment period ends. Do not increase your dose further.
Week Dose to inject
Week 1 0.6 mg once a day 
Week 2 1.2 mg once a day 
Week 3 1.8 mg once a day 
Week 4 2.4 mg once a day 
Week 5 onwards 3 mg once a day 

On Saxenda treatment weight loss normally starts within 2 weeks and continues for 9–12 months.

How to use Saxenda

Your healthcare provider will show you how to use Saxenda. The following is a guide.

Time of day

Saxenda injection is used once a day. You can use Saxenda at any time of day, with or without food and drinks. It is best to use Saxenda at about the same time each day, at a time that is most convenient for you.

Prefilled pen

Saxenda is a pre-filled, dial-a-dose pen. This means that the pen contains an amount of medicine already loaded (18 mg of liraglutide). Depending on the dose you dial, it can deliver amounts of 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg, 1.8 mg, 2.4 mg and 3 mg.


Saxenda pre-filled pens are designed to be used with NovoFine® needles of up to 8 mm long Needles are not included with the pen. Ask your doctor or nurse which needle width (gauge) and length is best for you. Use a new needle for each injection and dispose of it after use. 

Injection site

Saxenda is given as an injection under your skin (subcutaneous injection) as shown to you by your doctor or nurse. Saxenda may be injected into the front of your waist (abdomen), the front of your thigh or your upper arm. Do not inject Saxenda into a vein or muscle. 

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of Saxenda and the next dose is less than 12 hours away, skip the missed dose and carry on as normal. If there are more than 12 hours until the next dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Do not take 2 doses at the same time.

For more detailed information on how to use the Saxenda pen, seethe Medsafe consumer information sheet on Saxenda or watch this video.


Things to consider before taking Saxenda

If you have any of the following, please discuss your options with your healthcare provider before taking Saxenda as it may not be suitable for you:

  • problems with your stomach or digestive system
  • diabetes
  • are you over 75 years old
  • an overactive thyroid
  • kidney or liver problems
  • pregnant or breastfeeding.

What are the side effects of Saxenda?

Like all medicines, Saxenda can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. 

Side effects What should I do?
  • Reaction at the injection site such as bruising, redness, tenderness
  • Change the site.
  • Tell your doctor if this does not settle.
  • Feeling sick (nausea)
  • Runny poos (diarrhoea)
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Wind or bloating
  • Tiredness
  • Dehydration, feeling thirsty
  • These are quite common when you first start taking Saxenda and should settle with time.
  • Make sure you are drinking enough water, especially if you have diarrhoea (runny poos) or are feeling very thirsty. 
  • Tell your doctor if these are ongoing or troublesome.
  • Palpitations (fast heart beat) 
  • Feelings of a racing heartbeat while at rest
  • Let your doctor know or phone Healthline 0800 611 116.
  • Changes in mood, behaviour or thoughts
  • Let your doctor know or phone Healthline 0800 611 116.
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product

Learn more

The following links have more information on Saxenda:

Saxenda Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet, NZ
Saxenda Novo Nordisk


  1. Liraglutide NZ Formulary 
  2. Weight loss: the options and the evidence BPAC, NZ, 2019
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 08 Dec 2020