- What is Saxenda?
- What is Victoza?
- Are Saxenda and Victoza the same?
- Uses of Saxenda vs Victoza
- Saxenda vs Victoza effectiveness
- Which works better, Saxenda or Victoza?
- Benefits of Saxenda vs Victoza
- Similarities and differences
- Do Saxenda and Victoza have the same side effects?
- Which is cheaper, Saxenda or Victoza?
- Is Saxenda stronger than Victoza?
- Can you switch between Saxenda and Victoza?
- How does liraglutide compare to other drugs?
- Are there any natural alternatives to Saxenda and Victoza?
Keeping track of all the different drugs and brand names for diabetes medications can be overwhelming.
While these newer medications can be very effective at lowering your blood sugar levels and even helping you lose weight, keeping them all straight can be a challenge.
To add to the potential confusion, some of these drugs have the same active drug name but different brand names.
Let’s look at one example of a drug with two different brand names – Saxenda vs Victoza.
What is Saxenda?
Saxenda is the brand name for liraglutide, an injectable medication used to treat obesity for people 12 years and older.
Saxenda is a GLP-1 receptor agonist, a medication that can treat type 2 diabetes. Unlike other brand names of GLP-1 receptor agonists like Victoza, Ozempic, and Trulicity, Saxenda isn’t intended to treat type 2 diabetes.
The FDA approved Saxenda in 2014 as a weight loss medication. Saxenda is approved for adults with a BMI over 27 and children aged 12-17 over 132 pounds and considered obese.
Saxenda is for daily use with a maximum dose of 3 milligrams. It’s sold as a prefilled injectable pen and should be injected into subcutaneous tissue such as your abdomen, thigh, or back of your forearm.
What is Victoza?
Victoza is a brand name for the medication liraglutide, just like Saxenda. Unlike Saxenda, Victoza is approved to treat type 2 diabetes and isn’t a weight-loss medication.
Victoza is a once-daily injectable medication that comes in prefilled pens like Saxenda. Victoza pens can administer doses of 0.6 milligrams, 1.2 milligrams, or 1.8 milligrams, with typical doses being 1.2 and 1.8 milligrams.
Are Saxenda and Victoza the same?
Saxenda and Victoza contain the same active drug ingredient of liraglutide but are approved for different uses. They also come in different dosages.
This might seem a little confusing, and rightfully so. When drugs are approved to be used in humans, they must have an intended diagnosis to treat, such as to treat type 2 diabetes or obesity.
Some drugs can be approved to treat multiple conditions, but they must obtain separate FDA approvals before they can be marketed.
GLP-1 receptor agonists like Saxenda and Victoza help boost levels of GLP-1, a type of hormone that helps boost satiety and reduce appetite.
Levels of GLP-1 can be altered in people who are overweight or obese, which can lead to increased appetite and weight gain (1).
Besides their primary method of action of increasing levels of GLP-1, Saxenda and Victoza can also cause weight loss by delaying gastric emptying. The longer food stays in your stomach before it empties into your intestines, the less hungry you’ll feel.
You might also experience weight loss with medications like Saxenda and Victoza due to side effects like nausea, vomiting, and decreased appetite, which can cause you to eat less than you normally do.
Uses of Saxenda vs Victoza
Saxenda is used to treat children (aged 12 and older) and adults who are considered overweight or obese based on their height and weight. Saxenda isn’t meant to treat type 2 diabetes.
If you take Saxenda to lose weight and also take a diabetes medication, you might be at greater risk of developing low blood sugar. You should inform your healthcare provider of any blood sugar-lowering medication you take.
Victoza is meant to be used in children aged 10 and above as well as adults with type 2 diabetes. Victoza isn’t meant to treat type 1 diabetes.
Saxenda vs Victoza effectiveness
Saxenda and Victoza are meant to treat different conditions. While obesity and type 2 diabetes are often associated, the drugs aren’t necessarily interchangeable for a person with diabetes who is also overweight or obese.
Saxenda effectiveness for weight loss
According to a study, three out of five people (60%) taking Saxenda achieved a weight loss of 5% or more, which equates to an average of 12 pounds lost from their baseline.
One out of three people (33%) taking Saxenda experienced a weight loss of 10% or more, 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 about 47 pounds on average. All of these results occurred over 56 weeks.
There are certain foods to avoid while taking Saxenda that you may want to cut out or limit in order to maximize potential weight loss. This includes sugary drinks and greasy or fatty foods.
Victoza’s effectiveness for lowering blood glucose & weight loss
According to a 52-week study, Victoza reduced participants’ A1cs by 0.84% with a dose of 1.2 milligrams and by 1.14% with a dose of 1.8 milligrams (2). For comparison, a popular medication called glimepiride (a sulfonylurea) only reduced A1c by 0.51% at an 8-milligram dose.
While it’s not intended to be used solely as a weight loss drug, Victoza might also result in weight loss for some people who take it.
According to a study on patients without diabetes, Victoza resulted in an average weight loss of 11–16 pounds over 20 weeks, which was more than the patients receiving orlistat, a weight loss medication (2).
Healthy lifestyle changes are effective at lowering blood sugar in addition to medications. There are certain foods to avoid while taking Victoza that you may want to consider cutting out in order to maximize its effectiveness at reducing your blood sugar, such as cutting back on refined carbohydrates and starchy foods.
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Which works better, Saxenda or Victoza?
Because Saxenda and Victoza aren’t meant to treat the same conditions, we can’t linearly compare their effectiveness.
When we look at weight loss results in the previous section, Saxenda appears more effective at producing more significant weight loss than Victoza.
However, the studies cited in the previous section used different periods (56 weeks for Saxenda vs 20 weeks for Victoza). Therefore, we can’t know for sure how the two drugs compare in their weight loss effectiveness.
Ease of use for Saxenda vs Victoza
Saxenda and Victoza are both meant to be injected daily using a pen injector. Pen injectors are convenient because you can more easily choose and administer the correct dose than drawing up medication using a vial and syringe, such as with some types of insulin.
Because Saxenda and Victoza are injectable medications, they aren’t suitable for people who cannot safely administer their injections or those with needle phobias.
Benefits of Saxenda vs Victoza
Saxenda may provide more significant weight loss vs Victoza, which is its main benefit.
However, there aren’t studies on Saxenda for treating diabetes since it’s not approved for that use. Victoza is proven to be effective at lowering blood sugar levels, especially when compared to oral diabetes medications like sulfonylureas.
Similarities and differences
Similarities between Victoza and Saxenda:
- Same active drug ingredient
- Both daily, injectable medications
- Similar side effects and risks
Differences between Victoza and Saxenda:
- Approved for different uses (diabetes and weight loss, respectively)
- Different outcomes in studies (e.g., Saxena resulted in more significant weight loss compared to Victoza)
Do Saxenda and Victoza have the same side effects?
Because they contain the same active drug, the side effects of Saxenda and Victoza are similar. According to the manufacturers’ websites, here are both medications’ most common side effects.
Saxenda side effects
- Injection site reaction
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Stomach pain
- Change in enzyme (lipase) levels in your blood
Victoza side effects
- Decreased appetite
Warnings for Saxenda and Victoza
Saxenda and Victoza have similar warnings. Some of the rarer but serious complications that might arise from taking Victoza or Saxenda include:
Inflammation of your pancreas can occur when taking GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Saxenda and Victoza. Watch out for signs of pancreatitis, like severe abdominal pain, with or without vomiting.
You might develop gallbladder problems when taking Saxenda or Victoza. Signs of gallbladder issues include middle upper stomach pain, fever, nausea and vomiting, and the yellowing of the whites of your eyes.
Kidney problems (kidney failure)
If you already have kidney problems, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting (common side effects from Saxenda and Victoza) can cause a loss of fluids (dehydration), which can worsen your kidney problems.
Thyroid cancer risk
In animal studies, the active ingredient of Victoza and Saxenda caused thyroid cancer in some mice and rats. It’s unknown whether taking these medications increases your risk of thyroid cancer.
You should avoid taking Saxenda and Victoza if you or anyone in your family have had medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), a type of thyroid cancer.
Signs of thyroid cancer include a lump or swelling in your neck or throat. Stop taking Saxenda or Victoza immediately if you experience these symptoms, and notify your healthcare provider.
Potential changes in your mental health (Saxenda)
If you have a history of depression, you should monitor how you feel while taking Saxenda. If you have increasing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, contact a trusted healthcare provider immediately.
Which is cheaper, Saxenda or Victoza?
The cost of Saxenda and Victoza will vary if you have healthcare insurance and/or prescription drug coverage.
According to GoodRx, at the time of this article, here are the out-of-pocket estimates for both medications.
Two prefilled 3-milliliter pens (one carton) of Victoza containing 18 milligrams each: $710-$740.
Five prefilled 3-milliliter pens (one carton) of Saxenda containing 18 milligrams each: $1300-$1400.
That makes the cost of Victoza around $360 per pen and Saxenda around $450 per pen. Because the dose of Saxenda is higher, you’ll go through Saxenda pens faster, so it’s significantly more expensive compared to Victoza.
Is Saxenda stronger than Victoza?
Saxenda comes in a higher dose of 3 milligrams compared to Victoza’s typical dose of 1.2-1.8 milligrams. Saxenda might be more effective at producing significant weight loss because of its higher dose.
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Can you switch between Saxenda and Victoza?
Saxenda and Victoza are approved for different conditions, so they shouldn’t be switched back and forth. If your healthcare provider did suggest switching between the two, it isn’t likely to cause any adverse effects because it’s the same active drug.
However, if you have healthcare and/or prescription drug coverage, one medication might be preferred and better covered.
For instance, if you try to fill a prescription for Saxenda and have type 2 diabetes, insurance might deny the coverage because Saxenda isn’t a medication meant to treat diabetes.
How does liraglutide compare to other drugs?
Liraglutide is one of many other GLP-1 receptor agonists. Some of the other popular GLP-1 receptor agonists include dulaglutide (Trulicity), exenatide (Byetta), semaglutide (Ozempic), and semaglutide (Wegovy).
Saxenda vs Ozempic
Let’s start by discussing Saxenda vs Ozempic. Ozempic is designed to treat type 2 diabetes and is taken once weekly compared to Saxenda’s daily dosing.
Ozempic isn’t comparable to Saxenda because it isn’t approved as a weight loss medication, but it can result in weight loss.
Victoza vs Ozempic
Both Victoza and Ozempic are approved to treat type 2 diabetes, so they are more easily comparable. What distinguishes Victoza vs Ozempic is that Victoza is a daily injectable medication, while Ozempic is a once-weekly medication.
Compared to Victoza, Ozempic might result in greater weight loss. Both medications have similar side effects.
Saxenda vs Wegovy
Both Saxenda and Wegovy are approved as weight loss medications. Saxenda is a daily injection, while Wegovy is a weekly injection.
Saxenda specifically states it’s safe for kids as young as 12, while the manufacturer for Wegovy says it’s unknown if Wegovy is safe for people under age 18.
Both Saxenda and Wegovy are meant for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or greater.
Are there any natural alternatives to Saxenda and Victoza?
Saxenda and Victoza help boost levels of GLP-1, a hormone responsible for increasing insulin release and slowing gastric emptying, which often results in weight loss.
According to a 2021 study in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, berberine, tea, curcumin, cinnamon, wheat, soybean, resveratrol, and gardenia may all naturally boost GLP-1 concentrations and act as natural alternatives to Saxenda and Victoza (3).
Let’s look at a couple of these potential natural alternatives a little closer.
Berberine is a compound found in some plants and is a natural alternative for treating insulin resistance and high blood sugar. Insulin resistance is associated with weight gain and overweight/obesity.
According to a small study on people with metabolic syndrome (a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes), berberine improved insulin sensitivity and reduced participants’ waist circumference (4).
A pilot study compared berberine and metformin (a popular oral medication used to treat diabetes) directly for their ability to help treat symptoms of type 2 diabetes (5).
The researchers found that berberine produced identical results as metformin in improving blood glucose metabolism.
According to a meta-analysis of ten randomized controlled trials, cinnamon can significantly reduce blood sugar levels, total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, and triglyceride levels while increasing HDL “good” cholesterol (6). However, cinnamon wasn’t associated with significant reductions in A1c levels among test subjects.
Saxenda and Victoza contain the same active drug ingredient called liraglutide. Liraglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist.
Saxenda is approved as a weight loss medication, while Victoza is approved to treat type 2 diabetes. Both are once-daily injections, whereas other popular GLP-1 receptor agonists are often once-weekly dosing.
Saxenda and Victoza aren’t interchangeable since they are meant to treat different conditions. Depending on your health history and weight goals, your healthcare provider can help determine if either of these drugs would be a good fit for you.