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Pharmacotherapy. 2011 Sep;31(9):896-911. doi: 10.1592/phco.31.9.896.

Liraglutide: clinical pharmacology and considerations for therapy.

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  • 11 Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy, Richmond, Virginia 23298-0533, USA.


Liraglutide is a United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analog that is 97% homologous to native human GLP-1. The additional 16-carbon fatty acid chain causes noncovalent binding to albumin, which slows absorption from the injection site and protects the molecule from degradation by the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase-4, allowing for protraction of action. Albumin binding and an elimination half-life of 13 hours combine to allow for once-daily dosing. Liraglutide 1.2 and 1.8 mg/day given as monotherapy for up to 52 weeks produced mean reductions in hemoglobin A1c (A1C) of 0.6-1.6%; combination therapy of liraglutide with oral antidiabetic agents demonstrated mean A1C reductions up to 1.5%. The satiety effect of GLP-1 receptor agonists and documented weight loss as great as 3.38 kg in clinical trials may make liraglutide ideal for obese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Like other incretin-based agents, preliminary studies suggest liraglutide may also increase β-cell mass and function. Hypoglycemia is rare with liraglutide and tends to occur when used in combination with sulfonylureas; liraglutide in combination with insulin is not yet FDA approved. The pharmacokinetic parameters of liraglutide are unaffected by age, sex, race, or ethnicity, and no special recommendations for altered dosing of liraglutide need apply to populations with hepatic or renal impairment. Results from clinical trials have not shown an increased risk of medullary thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, or poor cardiovascular outcomes with liraglutide treatment. Ongoing, long-term monitoring studies continue to evaluate the safety of liraglutide treatment in these outcomes.

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