Saxenda is a weight-loss medication available worldwide and widely prescribed in the U.S. While this drug has proven to be quite efficient, there’s a lot of confusion around its storage, and studies show most patients don’t know how to store it properly.
Yet, storage temperatures are essential to keep your weight-loss injections effective. Indeed, Liraglutide, the active ingredient in Saxenda, is a biological product that’s highly sensitive to temperatures and can quickly deteriorate if not properly stored.
So, let's go back to the basics and make sure we all know how to take good care of our Saxenda pens at home. Does Saxenda need to be refrigerated? How long can it be out of the fridge? And other fundamental questions the success of your medical treatment ultimately depends on...
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What is Saxenda?
The active ingredient in Saxenda is Liraglutide (also sold under the brand name Victoza for type 2 diabetes, see below for more information). It primarily works by suppressing appetite.
Related article: Wegovy Vs. Saxenda, Comparing Two Weight-loss injections!
How does it work?
Liraglutide (Saxenda) is a Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist drug, that mimics the effects of a human hormone called GLP-1.
GLP-1 is naturally released by the intestines in response to food intake and plays a major role in increasing insulin secretion, increasing satiety, and slowing down digestion.
By supplementing the body with a pharmaceutical similar to GLP-1 hormone, Saxenda significantly helps reduce appetite (sensation of hunger), increase the feeling of fullness (satiety), control food intake, and eventually lose weight.
Saxenda can only be prescribed by a healthcare provider. It's not available over the counter and must only be taken under medical supervision. Ask your doctor about possible side effects.
Related article: How Does Mounjaro Work For Diabetes and Weight Loss?
Saxenda injection pens
Saxenda is usually administered daily by subcutaneous injections (under the skin). The patients are responsible for self-administering Saxenda at home.
To make the injection easier and more convenient, Saxenda is delivered in prefilled injection pensthat contain 3mL of medicine. Saxenda pens are available in packs of 1, 3, or 5.
The pens are used with disposable needles for each injection. In addition, a dose selector allows you to select and inject the exact dose your doctor has prescribed.
Related article: How to Use a Saxenda Pen and Where to Inject!
What’s the difference between Saxenda and Victoza?
Victoza and Saxenda both contain the same active ingredient, Liraglutide. So, you may wonder what’s the difference between these two injectable drugs.
The first difference between Saxenda and Victoza is their FDA-approved uses. While Victoza is approved to treat type 2 diabetes only, Saxenda is approved for chronic weight management only. People with type 2 diabetes treated with Victoza may lose some weight, but it’s not the primary indication for this medicine. Similarly, people treated with Saxenda for weight loss may have lower blood sugar levels.
The second difference between these two Liraglutide drugs is their dosage. Saxenda is generally used in a higher dosage than Victoza. Victoza is given in 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg, or 1.8 mg daily doses, whereas the dosage for Saxenda can reach 3 mg daily.
As a result, Saxenda may cause more intense side effects than Victoza.
Related article: How to support your diabetic husband or wife?
Does Saxenda need to be refrigerated?
Yes, Saxenda needs to be refrigerated. Liraglutide is a biologic. Biologics, also known as biological drugs or biopharmaceuticals, are produced from biological sources using a living system, such as an animal cell, a plant cell, or a microorganism.
As such, they’re very fragile and unstable. Refrigeration is often the only way to prevent biological drugs like Saxenda from deteriorating too quickly and to prolong their effectiveness.
Fortunately, there's room for maneuvering with Saxenda, as laboratory tests have shown the medicine can stay unrefrigerated for up to 30 days. So, let’s go into the details about Saxenda storage temperatures and instructions.
Saxenda storage temperatures
According to Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Saxenda, unused Saxenda pens must be stored “in the refrigerator between 36°F and 46°F (2°C to 8°C).” After first use or unrefrigeration, the pens can be placed back in the refrigerator "or stored at room temperature between 59°F and 86°F (15°C to 30°C)”. In both cases, they must be used within 30 days maximum.
In other words:
- Unopened Saxenda pens: in the fridge until first use or expiration date.
- Opened Saxenda pens: in the fridge or at room temperature for 30 days maximum.
The manufacturer also warns patients about not exposing Saxenda to freezing temperatures.
Related article: Does Insulin Need to Be Refrigerated?
How long does Saxenda last in the fridge?
If unopened and stored in a refrigerator, Saxenda lasts in the fridge until the expiration date labeled on each pen.
Ideally, the temperature inside your fridge should be between 36°F and 46°F (2°C and 8°C) and as stable as possible.
To avoid temperature fluctuations inside your domestic refrigerator and ensure the best storage conditions for your Saxenda pens:
- Store your weight-loss medicine at the center of the fridge. Avoid bottom, sides, and door shelves.
- Avoid opening the fridge door too often or for too long
- Do not place Saxenda pens near the freezer compartment.
- Check the temperature inside your fridge often.
If you've opened, used, or left unrefrigerated a Saxenda pen, it can only last 30 more days, even if you’ve put it back in the fridge.
How long can Saxenda stay out of the fridge?
According to its manufacturer's official storage instructions, Saxenda can stay out of the fridge for 30 days. Past that time without refrigeration, you should throw away your Saxenda pens, even if there's still medicine inside.
The fact that Saxenda can be out of the fridge for 30 days does not free you from being careful about its storage conditions. Indeed, it must be kept at room temperature and should never be exposed to temperatures above 86°F (30°C).
Saxenda at room temperature
Once opened, Saxenda pens don’t need to be refrigerated. They can be stored at room temperaturebut must be used within 30 days maximum.
By room temperature, we mean anything between 59°F and 86°F (15°C to 30°C). In no case should Liraglutide (Saxenda) be exposed to higher temperatures.
In other words, if you live in places with above 86°F (30°C) ambient temperature, you must protect your Saxenda pens from the heat. Here are a few tips for doing so:
- Use a medical-grade cooler bag
- Never leave Saxenda pens in your car
- Don’t leave them in the sun
- Never put your pens near a heat source (stove, fireplace, etc.)
According to Novo Nordisk’s storage recommendations, if your Saxenda pen has been exposed to a temperature above 86°F (30°C), it isn’t safe for use anymore. However, don’t panic! As said above, degradation happens progressively, so unless you’ve put it in the oven, if your pen has been exposed to high temperatures for a few minutes, it's probably okay...
How to travel with Saxenda?
Traveling with temperature-sensitive medicines like Saxenda is stressful for many patients. But with common sense and reliable accessories, there’s really no reason to worry.
Whether traveling to warm weather destinations or simply spending the day outdoors with temperatures rising above 86°F (30°C), you need to keep your Saxenda pens cool.
The most convenient and reliable solution is to use a medical-grade travel cooler for medicines, like the ones from 4AllFamily.
Related article: 10 Tips for Traveling with Your Saxenda Pens!
How to tell if Saxenda has gone bad?
What happens if you use expired Saxenda?
Expired Saxenda probably won’t poison you, as the risks of bacterial contamination are very low (but possible). Instead, it will simply not work or work less than it should.
When it starts degrading, Saxenda progressively loses efficiency. The longer it's left unrefrigerated, and the higher the temperatures it's been exposed to, the more efficacy it loses.
Eventually, using Saxenda that's been left out of the fridge for too long is like injecting a lower or no dose, which could significantly and negatively impact your treatment.
Are you using Saxenda? Would you like to share your experiences, doubts, and comments with us?
 Prasad-Reddy L, Isaacs D. A clinical review of GLP-1 receptor agonists: efficacy and safety in diabetes and beyond. Drugs Context. 2015 Jul 9;4:212283. doi: 10.7573/dic.212283. PMID: 26213556; PMCID: PMC4509428. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4509428/