What Is Liraglutide Used For?
Liraglutide is approved to treat type 2 diabetes. It is not usually recommended as the first choice of treatment for this condition, but rather when other medications have failed or when a person experiences unbearable side effects. This medicine is not approved for use in children, and there are currently no "off-label" uses for liraglutide.
An Overview of Uses for LiraglutideLiraglutide (Victoza®) is a noninsulin medication approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It is available with a prescription only. This medicine is taken just once a day as an injection just under the skin (a subcutaneous injection).
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes (see Diabetes Types). It is also sometimes called adult-onset diabetes or noninsulin-dependent diabetes. Traditionally, type 2 diabetes has been thought of as a condition in which the cells do not respond to insulin as well as they should. As a result, the cells do not take sugar out of the blood very well -- this is why people with type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar.
Most traditional diabetes treatments have focused on insulin -- that is, getting cells to respond better to insulin. However, scientists are now beginning to appreciate that many other factors (such as other noninsulin hormones) that play an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes, and all these factors interact in a complex way that is not fully understood.
Incretin hormones are among some of these newly discovered factors that play an important role in type 2 diabetes. These hormones are secreted by the digestive tract in response to food and have various effects on the body.
Liraglutide is an incretin mimetic. This means that it mimics the actions of incretin hormones in the body. As an incretin mimetic, liraglutide increases insulin production in response to meals and decreases the amount of glucose (sugar) that the liver produces. The medicine also slows the emptying of food from the stomach and decreases the amount of food that people eat.
Because incretin hormones are more active in response to higher blood sugar levels and are less active in response to low blood sugar, the risk of dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is low with liraglutide. However, combining it with other diabetes medications to lower blood sugar can increase the risk of hypoglycemia (see Victoza and Blood Sugar).