- What is Ozempic?
- What is Saxenda?
- Is Saxenda in the same class as Ozempic?
- Saxenda vs Ozempic effectiveness
- Which is better for weight loss – Saxenda or Ozempic?
- Is Saxenda stronger than Ozempic?
- Benefits of Saxenda vs Ozempic
- Which medication has fewer side effects?
- Which medication is cheaper?
- Can you take Saxenda and Ozempic together?
- Natural alternatives to Saxenda and Ozempic
GLP-1 receptor agonist medications are growing in popularity among type 2 diabetes treatment options.
Some GLP-1 receptor agonists aren’t approved to treat diabetes and are only intended as weight loss drugs, which adds a layer of potential confusion when looking at these medications.
Let’s compare Saxenda (a weight loss drug) vs Ozempic (a medication for type 2 diabetes), which is in the same medication class.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is a brand name for an injectable form of semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist. The FDA approved Ozempic to treat type 2 diabetes in 2017.
The typical starting dose of Ozempic is 0.25 milligrams once weekly for four weeks, then 0.5 milligrams weekly for at least four weeks.
If you aren’t meeting your blood sugar targets with 0.5 milligrams weekly, the dose can gradually increase to 2 milligrams weekly.
What is Saxenda?
Saxenda is the brand name for liraglutide, an injectable GLP-1 receptor agonist used as a weight loss medication for people aged 12 years and older.
Unlike other brand names of GLP-1 receptor agonists like Victoza, Ozempic, and Trulicity, Saxenda isn’t intended to treat type 2 diabetes.
Another brand, Victoza, shares the same drug name as Saxenda. However, one difference between Victoza vs Saxenda is that Victoza is meant to treat type 2 diabetes and isn’t intended to be used solely as a weight loss medication.
The FDA approved Saxenda in 2014 for adults with a BMI over 27 and for children aged 12-17 years old who are over 132 pounds and considered obese. Compared to another weight loss GLP-1 medication (Wegovy), Saxenda can be used in younger patients.
Saxenda is for daily use with a goal of a therapeutic dose of 3 milligrams. The starting dose is 0.6 milligrams and gradually increases by 50% weekly until reaching the target dose of 3 milligrams.
Saxenda is sold in prefilled injectable pens and should be injected into subcutaneous tissue such as your abdomen, thigh, or back of your forearm. The needles with the Saxenda pens are considered “ultra-fine” to minimize discomfort during injections.
Is Saxenda in the same class as Ozempic?
Saxenda and Ozempic are in the same medication class of GLP-1 receptor agonists. Most GLP-1 receptor agonists are approved to treat type 2 diabetes, except for Saxenda and Wegovy, which are solely meant as weight loss aids.
The other GLP-1 receptor agonists for diabetes can also result in weight loss, such as Ozempic. However, rates of weight loss with Saxenda tend to be more significant.
Saxenda vs Ozempic effectiveness
Studies on Saxenda’s effectiveness
According to a study from Saxenda’s website, 3 out of 5 people (60%) taking Saxenda achieved a weight loss of 5% or more, which equates to an average of 12 pounds lost from their baseline.
Around 1 out of 3 people (33%) taking Saxenda experienced significant weight loss of 10% or more, which was around 23 pounds lost on average.
While it is rarer, around 6% of people taking Saxenda lost over 20% of their initial body weight, the equivalent of around 47 pounds on average. All of these results occurred over 56 weeks.
You can also maximize potential weight loss by making changes to your diet while taking Saxenda and increasing physical activity, which Saxenda’s manufacturer recommends.
A study looked at Saxenda’s effectiveness in promoting weight loss in adolescents (aged 12 to under 18 years). Those taking 3 milligrams of Saxenda daily lost more weight than those who didn’t receive Saxenda. Both groups received lifestyle counseling.
We should note that the participants in the previous study who took Saxenda also gained the weight back more significantly than the placebo group once treatment stopped.
This result emphasizes the importance of healthy lifestyle changes in addition to taking weight loss drugs like Saxenda.
Studies on Ozempic’s effectiveness
According to clinical studies conducted by the manufacturer, Ozempic lowered A1c levels by around 1.5% after 30 weeks.
A reduction of your A1c by over 1% is significant and represents improved blood sugar control, which can reduce your risk of diabetes complications like heart disease.
According to two different studies, most people taking Ozempic could get their hemoglobin A1c below 7%. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with A1c keep their A1c below 7%, which indicates good blood sugar management.
In a 40-week study, participants taking 0.5 milligrams of Ozempic weekly lowered their average baseline A1c levels (8.3%) by 1.4%. A higher dose of 1 milligram weekly lowered the mean A1c levels (8.2%) by 1.6%.
These results weren’t utilizing Ozempic at the maximum dose of 2 milligrams, so higher doses could reduce blood sugar levels even more.
According to a 40-week trial on people with type 2 diabetes, people taking 0.5 milligrams of Ozempic weekly lost an average of 9.3 pounds (the average starting weight was 213 pounds), or about 4% of their body weight.
People taking a higher dose of 1 milligram of Ozempic weekly lost an average of 12.8 pounds (average starting weight of 211 pounds) or around 6% of their body weight.
Ozempic vs Wegovy vs Saxenda for weight loss
Ozempic shares an active drug ingredient with Wegovy, the other GLP-1 weight-loss drug.
So how do Wegovy vs Saxenda compare?
Participants taking Wegovy in a study cited on Wegovy’s website lost an average of 35 pounds over the 68-week study, which was about 15% of their starting body weight.
Overall, 83% of people taking Wegovy lost at least 5% of their body weight, which is significant.
According to a 2022 paper, a review of ten studies concluded that Wegovy was “superior” to Saxenda and other GLP-1 receptor agonists in reducing patients’ body weight.
Which is better for weight loss – Saxenda or Ozempic?
Saxenda is ideal for weight loss since that is its purpose, and people without diabetes can use it. Saxenda also appears to result in more significant weight loss based on study results.
If you have diabetes and want to lose weight, Ozempic is still a good option. All GLP-1 receptor agonists help slow stomach emptying and can help reduce your appetite, which can result in weight loss in combination with lifestyle changes.
Is Saxenda stronger than Ozempic?
Saxenda doesn’t stay in your system as long as Ozempic, which is why it has daily dosing instead of weekly dosing.
After you take a dose of Saxenda, half of the medication will still be in your system around 13 hours later. Half of the Ozempic dose will still be in your system seven days later.
That doesn’t make one medication stronger than the other, though. Due to its daily dosing, you’ll have more Saxenda in your system compared to if you were taking Ozempic, which might be perceived as being “stronger.”
Benefits of Saxenda vs Ozempic
Below are some benefits of saxenda and ozempic.
Benefits of Saxenda
- Approved for use in people without a diagnosis of diabetes
- Less expensive compared to Ozempic
- Can be used in younger patients (the minimum age for Ozempic is 18 years)
Benefits of Ozempic
- Approved for treating type 2 diabetes while also promoting weight loss
- May be covered by your insurance if you have a diabetes diagnosis
- Weekly dosing is more convenient than Saxenda
Which medication has fewer side effects?
Saxenda and Ozempic have similar side effects since they are from the same medication class. Neither is considered to have fewer side effects than the other, and everyone will experience side effects differently.
One person might tolerate Ozempic better than Saxenda, while someone else has the opposite experience.
Saxenda’s common side effects
- Injection site reaction
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Stomach pain
- Change in enzyme (lipase) levels in your blood
More rarely, Saxenda might cause serious side effects such as:
- Kidney problems
- Gallbladder problems
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), especially when taken with sulfonylureas or insulin
- Allergic reactions
- Increased risk of thyroid tumors
- Depression or thoughts of suicide
Ozempic’s common side effects
- Gastrointestinal symptoms like upset stomach (nausea and vomiting), stomach pain, loss of appetite, heartburn, burping, gas, and bloating
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Injection site pain
More rarely, Ozempic has similar risks as Saxenda, including pancreatitis, gallbladder issues, thyroid tumors, etc.
Which medication is cheaper?
According to GoodRx:
- One prefilled pen containing 2 milligrams of Ozempic (one week’s supply of the maximum dose) costs around $900 out of pocket.
- Five prefilled 3-milliliter pens (one carton) of Saxenda containing 18 milligrams each: $1300-$1400 (one month’s supply at the target 3 mg/day dose).
That breaks down to a monthly comparison of around $3600/month for Ozempic (four doses per month at 2 milligrams/week dose) and $1300-$1400 per month for Saxenda at the target 3 milligram/day dose.
Your cost for Saxenda and Ozempic will likely vary based on your insurance and/or prescription drug coverage.
Can you take Saxenda and Ozempic together?
You shouldn’t take Saxenda and Ozempic together, as this could result in serious side effects and increase your risk of rare complications.
If you want to stop taking one medication in favor of the other, you can do so under the guidance of your healthcare provider to ensure you don’t have too much of either medication in your system at the same time.
Natural alternatives to Saxenda and Ozempic
There are some natural alternatives to medications like Saxenda and Ozempic. One of the benefits of natural alternatives is that they often come with fewer risks and side effects and are usually much more affordable than prescription medications like Saxenda and Ozempic.
Cinnamon is one of the more popular natural alternatives for improving blood sugar. A 2020 review of 12 trials on over 700 participants concluded that cinnamon supplementation significantly reduced body weight, BMI, waist circumference, and fat mass.
Weight loss was more significant in people with a body mass index of 30 or greater and people under age 50. The amount of cinnamon that resulted in the most weight loss was at least 2 grams per day for at least 12 weeks.
You’ve probably heard of resveratrol in relation to red wine. Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in the skins of grapes and some other plant-based foods that has beneficial protective effects against cardiovascular disease.
A 2020 meta-analysis of 36 randomized controlled trials concluded that resveratrol supplementation significantly reduced body weight, BMI, fat mass, and waist circumference, especially in obese patients.
Resveratrol might also help boost levels of GLP-1 naturally (according to some studies), making it more similar to medications like Saxenda and Ozempic.
Saxenda and Ozempic are both GLP-1 receptor agonists. Saxenda is approved as a weight loss medication, while Ozempic is meant to treat type 2 diabetes.
Some of the differences between Saxenda vs Ozempic are their intended uses, cost, and dosing schedule.
In terms of weight loss, Saxenda appears to result in more significant weight loss vs Ozempic.