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Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2013 Dec 1;70(23):2097-103. doi: 10.2146/ajhp130081.

Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists for weight loss in adult patients without diabetes.

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  • 1Anne Ottney, Pharm.D., BCPS, is Assistant Professor, College of Pharmacy, Ferris State University, Lansing, MI, and Clinical Pharmacist, Family Medicine Residency Program, Sparrow/Michigan State University, Lansing.



The efficacy and safety of glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1 receptor agonists for weight loss in adult patients without diabetes is reviewed.


GLP-1 receptor agonists have been associated with significant weight loss in patients with diabetes, raising the question of whether these agents could be used for weight loss in patients without diabetes. The mechanism by which GLP-1 receptor agonists induce weight loss is believed to be related to multiple actions involving the brain and gastrointestinal tract, with the primary action related to an increase in satiety. Trials examining the effects of GLP-1 receptor agonists for weight loss have compared exenatide, liraglutide, and orlistat. Of the studies completed to date, the majority of patients have been enrolled in trials involving liraglutide. Based on the reviewed literature, both exenatide 10 μg twice daily and liraglutide in dosages of up to 3 mg daily resulted in significant weight loss in patients without diabetes. A decrease in the proportion of patients with prediabetes was also found in studies of liraglutide. Nausea and vomiting were the most frequently reported adverse events in patients from these studies. Symptomatic hypoglycemia was reported in only one study with liraglutide in patients without diabetes and was not objectively confirmed by laboratory data. A higher frequency of psychiatric disorders, specifically insomnia, was reported by patients taking high doses of liraglutide.


GLP-1 receptor agonists offer a reasonable alternative for nondiabetic patients not able to achieve weight-loss goals with lifestyle modifications alone.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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