Victoza is a brand-name prescription medication that's used to:

  • improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It's approved for this use in adults and in children ages 10 years and older.
  • reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke. It's approved for this use in adults who have both type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Victoza contains the active drug liraglutide. It belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists (GLP-1).

Victoza comes as a liquid solution in a multi-dose, prefilled pen. Each Victoza pen holds a total of 18 mg of liraglutide in 3 mL of solution. You'll use the pen to self-inject Victoza under your skin (called a subcutaneous injection).

Effectiveness for type 2 diabetes

Victoza has been found effective in improving blood sugar levels in adults and children with type 2 diabetes. For details on the effectiveness of Victoza, see the "Victoza uses" section below.

FDA approval

Victoza was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010 for use in adults with type 2 diabetes.

In June 2019, the FDA approved Victoza for use in children ages 10 years and older with type 2 diabetes. Victoza is the first non-insulin drug to be approved since 2010 for use in children with this condition.

Victoza is available only as a brand-name medication. It's not currently available in generic form.

Victoza contains the active ingredient liraglutide.

Victoza can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Victoza. These lists do not include all possible side effects.

For more information on the possible side effects of Victoza, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to deal with any side effects that may be bothersome.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs they've approved. If you would like to report to the FDA a side effect you've had with Victoza, you can do so through MedWatch.

More common side effects

The more common side effects of Victoza can include:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • indigestion
  • loss of appetite
  • hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which is more common in children than in adults

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they're more severe or don't go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Victoza aren't common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you're having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Gallbladder disease. Symptoms can include:
    • pain in your belly
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • fever
    • diarrhea
    • jaundice (yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes)
  • Kidney problems, which may be caused by dehydration. Symptoms can include:
    • urinating less often than usual
    • swelling in your feet and lower legs
    • drowsiness
    • confusion
    • shortness of breath
    • nausea

Other serious side effects, which are discussed in detail below, include:

  • pancreatitis (inflammation in your pancreas)
  • severe allergic reaction
  • possible risk of thyroid cancer*
* Victoza has a boxed warning from the FDA regarding the possible risk of thyroid cancer in humans. A boxed warning is the strongest warning the FDA requires. It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Side effect details

You may wonder how often certain side effects occur with this drugor whether certain side effects pertain to it. Here's some detail on several of the side effects this drug may or may not cause.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Victoza. It's not known how many people taking Victoza have had an allergic reaction to the drug. Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (warmth and redness in your skin)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
  • trouble breathing or speaking

Call your doctor right away if you have a severe allergic reaction to Victoza. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you're having a medical emergency.

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis (inflammation in your pancreas) is a possible side effect of Victoza. This condition occurred in people taking the drug during clinical studies.

In clinical studies, 2.7 cases of pancreatitis occurred out of every 1,000 people taking Victoza for 1 year. Out of every 1,000 people taking glimepiride (a different diabetes drug that's taken by mouth) for 1 year, 0.5 cases of pancreatitis occurred.

There have also been cases of pancreatitis in post-marketing reports of Victoza. These cases of the condition were reported after Victoza was made available to the public.

However, it's not usually possible to determine if a drug caused the condition seen in post-marketing reports. It's also not possible to know how common the condition is in people taking the drug.

When you take Victoza, your doctor will monitor you for symptoms of pancreatitis. These symptoms may include:

  • severe pain that wraps around your upper belly (stomach pain) and your back
  • upset stomach
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • bloating
  • fever

It's not known if you'll have a higher risk of pancreatitis while you're taking Victoza if you've had pancreatitis in the past.

If you have any symptoms of pancreatitis while taking Victoza, tell your doctor right away. They will likely stop Victoza treatment to help treat your pancreatitis. It's recommended that you don't restart Victoza treatment after you've had pancreatitis.

Nausea

You may have nausea while you're taking Victoza. It's one of the most common side effects of the drug. In clinical studies, 18% to 20% of people who took Victoza had nausea. Of those who took a placebo (treatment with no active drug), 5% had nausea.

Nausea can also be a symptom of more serious side effects of Victoza, such as pancreatitis or gallbladder disease.

If you have nausea while you're taking Victoza, tell your doctor. They will recommend ways to reduce this side effect. They'll also determine whether your nausea is related to more serious side effects.

Diarrhea

Some people have diarrhea while taking Victoza. This is a common side effect of the drug. In clinical studies, 10% to 12% of people who took Victoza had diarrhea. Of people who took a placebo (treatment with no active drug), 4% had diarrhea.

If you have diarrhea while you're taking Victoza, tell your doctor. They will recommend ways to reduce this side effect. They will also recommend ways to prevent dehydration (low fluid level), which can lead to more serious problems, such as kidney damage.

Constipation

It's possible to feel constipated while you're using Victoza. In clinical studies, 5% of people who took Victoza had constipation. Of people who took a placebo (treatment with no active drug), 1% had constipation.

If you have constipation while you're taking Victoza, tell your doctor. They will recommend ways to help you keep your bowel movements regular in timing.

Cancer

Cancer was not reported as a side effect of Victoza in clinical studies. However, animal studies of the drug found an increased risk of thyroid cancer. (See the section below called "Thyroid cancer" for more details.)A clinical study that included more than 9,000 people looked at the risk of neoplasms (abnormal growths, including cancer) in people taking Victoza. People with type 2 diabetes who had risk of cardiovascular problems were studied.

In this study, people took either Victoza or a placebo (treatment with no active drug) for 3.5 to 5 years. The researchers didn't find an increased risk of cancer in people taking Victoza compared to people taking the placebo. However, more studies are needed to confirm these results.

If you've ever had cancer or you have a family history of cancer, talk with your doctor. They can discuss whether Victoza is safe for you.

Thyroid cancer

In animal studies, Victoza was found to cause thyroid tumors (abnormal growths) and thyroid cancer. It's not known if Victoza causes thyroid tumors or thyroid cancer in humans.

Because of this potential risk, Victoza has a boxed warning for increased risk of thyroid tumors. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

However, in clinical studies, the rate of papillary thyroid cancer (the most common type of thyroid cancer) was 1.5 cases for every 1,000 people taking Victoza for a year. Of those taking either a placebo (treatment with no active drug) or a different diabetes drug, the rate was 0.5 cases for every 1,000 people taking the drug or placebo for a year.

There have also been cases of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) in post-marketing reports. (This means these cases were reported after Victoza was made available to the public.)

However, it's typically not possible to determine whether a drug caused the condition seen in post-marketing reports. It's also not possible to know how common this type of cancer is in people using the drug.

Because of these reports, you shouldn't take Victoza if you or any of your family members have had MTC. You also shouldn't take Victoza if you have a condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2). This syndrome is a hormone-related condition that may increase your risk of thyroid cancer if you take Victoza.

Tell your doctor if you have any unusual symptoms that may be related to thyroid tumors or thyroid cancer. Symptoms of these conditions may include:

  • a lump or swollen area in your throat
  • hoarseness in your voice
  • trouble swallowing
  • shortness of breath

If you'd like to know more about the possible risk of thyroid cancer while using Victoza, talk with your doctor.

Headache

You may have headaches while you're taking Victoza. This is one of the most common side effects of the drug. In clinical studies, 10% to 11% of people who took Victoza had headaches. Of people who took a placebo (treatment with no active drug), 7% had headaches.

If you have headaches while you're taking Victoza, talk with your doctor. They can recommend ways to help reduce this side effect.

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a possible side effect of Victoza. In clinical studies, there were 7.5 cases of severe hypoglycemia for every 1,000 people taking Victoza for 1 year. The hypoglycemia that occurred required help from another person to treat.

Of the people affected, 87.5% of them were taking Victoza in combination with a sulfonylurea (a class of diabetes drugs that are taken by mouth). Examples of sulfonylurea drugs include glimepiride (Amaryl) and glipizide (Glucotrol).

People who took Victoza also had hypoglycemia events that they were able to treat themselves. In clinical studies, the number of hypoglycemia events for each person who took the following drugs for 1 year were:

  • 3.6 events in people taking Victoza and metformin (compared to 2.5 events in those taking a placebo and metformin)
  • 7.5 events in people taking Victoza and glimepiride (compared to 2.6 events in those taking a placebo and glimepiride)
  • 7.9 events in people taking Victoza, metformin, and rosiglitazone (compared to 4.6 events in those taking a placebo, metformin, and rosiglitazone)
  • 27.4 events in people taking Victoza, metformin, and glimepiride (compared to 16.7 events in those taking a placebo, metformin, and glimepiride)

Note: A placebo is a treatment that doesn't contain any active drug.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia can include:

  • shakiness
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • sweating
  • anxiety
  • fast heart rate
  • headache

If you have symptoms of hypoglycemia, check your blood sugar level right away. If you don't have a blood glucose (sugar) meter and aren't able to check your level, you should treat yourself for hypoglycemia anyway.

Treating hypoglycemia

You can treat mild or moderate hypoglycemia by eating or drinking things that have at least 15 grams of glucose in them. Examples of these items include:

  • half a cup of fruit juice, such as orange juice
  • half a cup of non-diet soda
  • 3 or 4 glucose tablets (you can purchase these from your pharmacy)
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey

After you've had something to eat or drink, check your blood sugar level again in 15 minutes. If the level is still low, you may need to consume more glucose.

If your hypoglycemia is more severe and you need assistance, tell people who are around that you need help or call 911. Don't try to drive yourself to the emergency room.

Liver side effects

It's possible to have liver side effects while you're taking Victoza. Post-marketing reports showed that some people who took Victoza have had hepatitis (inflammation in their liver). Post-marketing reports show cases of side effects that happened after the drug was made available to the public.

There have also been post-marketing reports of people taking Victoza who had high levels of liver enzymes (certain proteins made in your liver). High levels of liver enzymes are often a sign of liver damage.

However, it's typically not possible to determine whether a drug caused a side effect seen in post-marketing reports. It's also not possible to know how common a side effect may be in people taking the drug.

Symptoms of liver problems include:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • fatigue (lack of energy)
  • jaundice (yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes)
  • fluid buildup in your belly and legs

If you have symptoms of liver problems while taking Victoza, tell your doctor. They can order tests and recommend medical treatment if needed.

Skin rash

You may have skin rashes while you're using Victoza.

In clinical studies, about 2% of people who took Victoza had a rash near the area of their Victoza injection site (called an injection site reaction). However, less than 0.2% of people who took Victoza stopped treatment because of injection site reactions.

Skin rash may also be a symptom of an allergic reaction to Victoza. See the "Allergic reaction" section above for more information.

If you have a rash while you're taking Victoza, tell your doctor right away. If you have a rash along with other symptoms, such as trouble breathing or swelling of your tongue, lips, or throat, call 911 and get medical help right away. These could be signs of a severe allergic reaction.

Gastroparesis (not a side effect)

Gastroparesis was not reported as a side effect of Victoza during clinical studies. With this condition, your stomach empties very slowly as it moves food through your digestive tract.

Although it hasn't been shown to cause gastroparesis, Victoza can worsen the condition in people who already have it. Victoza works to improve your blood sugar levels by slowing the action of your stomach muscles. This causes food to move more slowly through your gastrointestinal system than it usually does. So if you already have gastroparesis, Victoza could worsen your condition.

If you have gastroparesis or problems digesting food, talk with your doctor. They'll advise whether it's safe for you to take Victoza.

Side effects in children

During clinical studies, side effects of Victoza were similar in both children and adults. However, children had higher rates of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) than adults did.

In a 26-week clinical study, children with type 2 diabetes took Victoza and metformin. Some of the children also took a long-acting insulin.

In this study, 21.2% of the children had hypoglycemia episodes. This rate can be described as 335 hypoglycemia events for every 1,000 children who took Victoza for 1 year. None of the hypoglycemia episodes were considered severe enough to need another person to help treat the children.

However, if you care for a child who takes Victoza, be prepared to recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia and treat the condition. (See the "Hypoglycemia" section above.) Treating hypoglycemia right away can help prevent a medical emergency.

The Victoza dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on a couple of factors. These include your age and how your body responds to the drug.

Typically, your doctor will start you on a low dosage. Then they'll adjust it over time to reach the amount that's right for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.

The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to suit your needs.

Drug forms and strengths

Victoza comes as a liquid solution that's inside a prefilled pen. This pen contains multiple doses of the drug. The pen holds a total of 18 mg of liraglutide in 3 mL of solution.

The Victoza pen can deliver liraglutide in three doses: 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg, or 1.8 mg. The amount of Victoza that you'll take depends on the dosage your doctor prescribes.

Victoza is available in packages that contain two or three pens. Needles aren't included with the pens. You'll need to purchase those separately from your pharmacy.

Dosage for type 2 diabetes

The usual starting dosage of Victoza for adults with type 2 diabetes is 0.6 mg once daily for 1 week. The purpose of Victoza's starting dosage (which is lower than the usual dosage) is to reduce your risk of gastrointestinal side effects. (See the "Victoza side effects" section above for more details).

After 1 week of treatment, the usual dosage is increased to 1.2 mg once each day.

After at least 1 more week of treatment, your doctor may increase your dosage to the maximum dosage of 1.8 mg once a day. Your doctor may prescribe this dosage if you need additional blood sugar management.

The usual dosage of Victoza is the same for people with type 2 diabetes who take the drug to decrease their risk of cardiovascular (heart- or blood vessel-related) events.

Victoza is taken as an injection under your skin (a subcutaneous injection). You'll self-inject the medication at home. You can inject it under the skin of your belly, thighs, or upper arms.

Pediatric dosage

The usual starting dose for children ages 10 years and older with type 2 diabetes is 0.6 mg once a day. The purpose of Victoza's starting dose is to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal side effects. (See the "Victoza side effects" section above for more details).

After 1 week of treatment, your child's doctor may increase the dosage to 1.2 mg once each day. After another week of treatment, if your child needs additional blood sugar management, your child's doctor may increase the dosage to 1.8 mg once day. This is the maximum daily dosage of Victoza for children.

Children may need your help with their Victoza injections. Talk with your child's doctor about how to safely help your child with their injections.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of Victoza, wait and take your next dose at your regular time. Don't take more than one dose or increase your dose to make up for the missed dose. Doing this will increase your risk for serious side effects.

To help make sure that you don't miss a dose, try setting a reminder on your phone. A medication timer may be useful, too.

Will I need to use this drug long term?

Victoza is meant to be used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Victoza is safe and effective for you, you'll likely take it long term.

Victoza is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used for weight loss.

Victoza contains the drug liraglutide. Saxenda is a different brand-name medication that also contains the drug liraglutide.

Saxenda is FDA-approved for use as a weight-loss aid. While Victoza and Saxenda contain the same drug, they're not used for the same purpose. And they're prescribed at different dosages.

For more information about these drugs, see the section "Victoza vs. Saxenda" below. If you'd like to know more about medications to aid in weight loss, talk with your doctor.

Other drugs are available that can treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. If you're interested in finding an alternative to Victoza, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that may work well for you.

Alternatives for type 2 diabetes

Examples of other drugs that may be used to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes include:

  • metformin (Glumetza, Riomet)
  • glyburide (Diabeta, Glynase)
  • glipizide (Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL)
  • pioglitazone (Actos)
  • dulaglutide (Trulicity)
  • semaglutide (Ozempic)
  • exenatide (Bydureon, Byetta)
  • sitagliptin (Januvia)
  • linagliptin (Tradjenta)
  • saxagliptin (Onglyza)
  • dapagliflozin (Farxiga)
  • empagliflozin (Jardiance)
  • canagliflozin (Invokana)
  • insulin glargine (Lantus, Basaglar, Toujeo)
  • insulin degludec (Tresiba)
  • insulin detemir (Levemir)
  • many others, including products that contain a combination of drugs

Examples of other drugs that may be used to improve blood sugar levels in children with type 2 diabetes include:

  • metformin (Riomet)
  • insulin lispro (Humalog)
  • insulin aspart (Novolog)
  • insulin glulisine (Apidra)
  • insulin degludec (Tresiba)

Alternatives for type 2 diabetes that are also used to prevent cardiovascular events

Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat type 2 diabetes and also prevent cardiovascular (heart- or blood vessel-related) events include:

You may wonder how Victoza compares to other medications that are prescribed for similar uses. Here we look at how Victoza and Trulicity are alike and different.

Ingredients

Victoza contains the drug liraglutide. Trulicity contains the drug dulaglutide. These medications both belong to the same class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists (GLP-1).

Uses

Victoza and Trulicity are both approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. They're both approved for use in combination with diet and exercise.

Victoza is also used to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular (heart- or blood vessel-related) events, such as heart attack and stroke. It's approved for this use in adults who have both type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Victoza is also approved to improve blood sugar levels in children ages 10 years and older with type 2 diabetes.

Drug forms and administration

Victoza and Trulicity both come as liquid solutions inside prefilled pens. You'll self-inject either of these drugs at home. They're both injected under your skin (a subcutaneous injection).

Victoza is taken once a day. However, Trulicity is taken once each week.

Side effects and risks

Victoza and Trulicity contain similar drugs. Therefore, both medications can cause very similar side effects. Below are examples of these side effects.

More common side effects

These lists contain examples of more common side effects that can occur with Victoza, with Trulicity, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

  • Can occur with Victoza:
    • headache
    • indigestion
    • constipation
    • hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Can occur with Trulicity:
    • fatigue (lack of energy)
    • belly pain
  • Can occur with both Victoza and Trulicity:
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
    • constipation
    • loss of appetite

Serious side effects

These lists contain examples of serious side effects that can occur with Victoza, with Trulicity, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

  • Can occur with Victoza:
  • Can occur with Trulicity:
    • severe gastrointestinal disease
  • Can occur with both Victoza and Trulicity:
* Victoza and Trulicity both have a boxed warning from the FDA regarding the possible risk of thyroid cancer in humans. A boxed warning is the strongest warning the FDA requires. It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Effectiveness

Victoza and Trulicity have different FDA-approved uses, but they're both used to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes.

The use of Victoza and Trulicity in treating adults with type 2 diabetes has been directly compared in a clinical study. In this study, Victoza and Trulicity were each taken in combination with metformin. After 26 weeks of treatment, Victoza and Trulicity gave similar results in improving people's blood sugar levels.

Costs

Victoza and Trulicity are both brand-name drugs. There are currently no generic forms of either drug. Brand-name medications usually cost more than generics.

According to estimates on GoodRx.com, Trulicity may cost less than Victoza.

The actual price you'll pay for either drug depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

You may wonder how Victoza compares to other medications that are prescribed to treat diabetes. Here we look at how Victoza and Ozempic are alike and different.

Ingredients

Victoza contains the drug liraglutide. Ozempic contains the drug semaglutide. These medications both belong to the same class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists (GLP-1).

Uses

Victoza and Ozempic are both approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. They're both approved to be used along with diet and exercise.

Victoza is also used to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular (heart- or blood vessel-related) events, such as heart attack and stroke. It's approved for this use in adults who have both type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Victoza is also approved to improve blood sugar levels in children ages 10 years and older with type 2 diabetes.

Drug forms and administration

Victoza and Ozempic both come as liquid solutions inside prefilled pens. You'll self-inject either of these drugs at home. They're both injected under your skin (a subcutaneous injection).

Victoza is taken once a day. However, Ozempic is taken once each week.

Side effects and risks

Victoza and Ozempic contain similar drugs. Therefore, both medications can cause very similar side effects. Below are examples of these side effects.

More common side effects

These lists contain examples of more common side effects that can occur with Victoza, with Ozempic, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

  • Can occur with Victoza:
    • headache
    • indigestion
    • loss of appetite
    • hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Can occur with Ozempic:
    • belly pain
  • Can occur with both Victoza and Ozempic:
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
    • constipation

Serious side effects

These lists contain examples of serious side effects that can occur with Victoza, with Ozempic, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

* Victoza and Ozempic both have a boxed warning from the FDA regarding the possible risk of thyroid cancer in adults. A boxed warning is the strongest warning the FDA requires. It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Effectiveness

Victoza and Ozempic have different FDA-approved uses, but they're both used to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes.

These drugs haven't been directly compared in clinical studies, but separate studies have found both Victoza and Ozempic to be effective for treating type 2 diabetes.

Costs

Victoza and Ozempic are both brand-name drugs. There are currently no generic forms of either drug. Brand-name medications usually cost more than generics.

According to estimates on GoodRx.com, Ozempic may cost less than Victoza. The actual price you'll pay for either drug depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

You may wonder how Victoza compares to another medication that contains the same active drug. Here we look at how Victoza and Saxenda are alike and different.

Uses

Victoza and Saxenda both contain the active drug liraglutide. However, they're approved for different conditions.

Victoza uses

Victoza is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. It's also approved for this use in children ages 10 years and older. It's used in combination with diet and exercise.

Victoza is also FDA-approved to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular (heart- or blood vessel-related) events in people with type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Cardiovascular events include heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular-related death.

Victoza is not FDA-approved to help people lose weight.

Saxenda uses

Saxenda is FDA-approved to help adults lose weight. It's meant to be used in combination with diet and exercise. It's used for adults with either:

  • a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2 , or
  • a BMI greater than 27 kg/m2, in people who also have a weight-related condition. Weight-related conditions include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.

Note: To calculate your BMI, start by squaring your height (in inches). Then, you'll take your weight (in pounds) and divide it by the number you got by squaring your height. Then multiply that number by 703 (this will change the measurement units from inches and pounds into meters and kilograms). For example, a man who weighs 200 pounds and is 72 inches tall would have a BMI of about 27 kg/m2.

Saxenda is not FDA-approved to improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It's also not approved for use in children (with any condition).

Drug forms and administration

Victoza and Saxenda both come as liquid solutions inside prefilled pens. Each pen holds 18 mg of liraglutide in a total of 3 mL of solution.

Both medications are self-injected once a day. However, the dosages (how much of the drug and how often you need to use it) for Victoza and Saxenda are different.

Victoza can be given in the following dosages: 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg, or 1.8 mg once a day. See the "Victoza Dosage" section for more information.

The recommended dosage of Saxenda is 3 mg once a day. Dosages lower than 3 mg daily are not effective for weight loss.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Victoza to treat certain conditions. Victoza may also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label use is when a drug that's approved to treat one condition is used to treat a different condition.

Victoza for type 2 diabetes

Victoza is FDA-approved to improve blood sugar levels in adults and children ages 10 years and older with type 2 diabetes. It's used in combination with diet and exercise. For more information about Victoza's use in children, see the section "Victoza for children" below.

With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn't respond very well to a hormone called insulin. This hormone works in your body to bring sugar (glucose) into your cells from your bloodstream. Your cells use the sugar to function properly. With diabetes, the sugar doesn't move from your bloodstream into your cells. This leads to high levels of sugar in your blood.

Victoza helps lower your blood sugar levels in several ways:

  • It increases how much insulin your body releases into your bloodstream.
  • It prevents your liver from releasing more glucose into your blood.
  • It slows down how quickly sugar is released into your blood after you've eaten food.

Effectiveness in type 2 diabetes

Victoza has been found effective in improving blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes.

In clinical studies, people's response to diabetes treatment is typically measured by testing hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). This measurement shows your average blood sugars over the past 3 months. The American Diabetes Association recommends a HbA1c goal of less than 7% for most adults.

Effectiveness when used alone

In a year-long clinical study, adults with type 2 diabetes took either Victoza or glimepiride (a diabetes medication that's taken by mouth). People who took Victoza had an average decrease in their HbA1c of 0.8% to 1.1%. Those taking glimepiride had an average decrease in their HbA1c of 0.5%.

Between 43% and 51% of people taking Victoza reached a HbA1c level of less than 7%. Of those taking glimepiride, 28% had the same result.

Effectiveness when used with other drugs

Victoza has also been tested in combination with other diabetes drugs in people with type 2 diabetes. Results from 26-week clinical studies showed that people's HbA1c was reduced:

  • 1.1% more with Victoza and metformin than with a placebo (treatment with no active drug) and metformin
  • 0.3% to 0.6% more with Victoza and metformin than with sitagliptin and metformin
  • 0.5% more with Victoza plus insulin detemir and metformin than with Victoza and metformin
  • 1.3% to 1.4% more with Victoza and glimepiride than with a placebo and glimepiride

Victoza was also effective in improving blood sugar levels when it was used in combination with other diabetes medications, such as pioglitazone and rosiglitazone.

Victoza for type 2 diabetes and heart disease

Victoza is also FDA-approved to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular (heart- and blood vessel-related) events in adults who have both heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Major cardiovascular events include heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular-related death.

Effectiveness in reducing cardiovascular risk

In one clinical study, Victoza was tested in adults with both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Half of the adults took Victoza or a placebo (treatment with no active drug) for 3.5 years. People who took Victoza had a 13% reduction in risk of major cardiovascular events than did people who took the placebo.

Victoza for other conditions

In addition to the uses listed above, Victoza may be used off-label for other uses. Off-label drug use is when a drug that's approved for one use is used for a different one that's not approved. And you may wonder if Victoza is used for certain other conditions.

Victoza for PCOS (off-label use)

Victoza isn't approved to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). But sometimes it's used off-label for this condition. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that occurs in some women.

It can cause:

  • irregular periods
  • weight gain
  • trouble getting pregnant

Liraglutide, the active drug in Victoza, has been tested to help relieve symptoms of PCOS in several studies. Some results from these studies are as follows:

  • In one small clinical study, liraglutide (1.8 mg daily) helped women with PCOS and obesity lose 5.5 pounds over 2 to 13 months of treatment.
  • In another study, liraglutide also helped women with PCOS and obesity lose weight. Women taking liraglutide (3 mg daily) alone lost about 14 pounds over 12 weeks. Women taking liraglutide (1.2 mg daily) in combination with metformin (1,000 mg twice daily) lost about 8 pounds over the same period of time.
  • In a third study, liraglutide with metformin (up to 1.8 mg daily) was again found to help with weight loss for women with PCOS.
  • In another study, liraglutide (1.2 mg daily) was found to help women with PCOS to become pregnant.

However, more studies are needed to know the safety and effectiveness of using Victoza to treat PCOS.

Victoza for type 1 diabetes (not an appropriate use at this time)

Victoza is not approved to treat type 1 diabetes, but sometimes it's used off-label for this condition. For more information, see the section "Can I use Victoza if I have type 1 diabetes?" in the FAQ section of this article.

Victoza for children

Victoza is FDA-approved to improve blood sugar levels in children ages 10 years and older with type 2 diabetes.

Effectiveness in children with type 2 diabetes

Victoza has also been found effective in improving blood sugar levels in children ages 10 years and older with type 2 diabetes.

In clinical studies, people's response to diabetes treatment is typically measured by testing hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). This measurement shows your average blood sugars over the past 3 months. The American Diabetes Association recommends a HbA1c goal of less than 7% for most children.

In a 26-week clinical study, children with type 2 diabetes took either Victoza or a placebo (treatment with no active drug). All of the children also took metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza), which is a diabetes medication that's taken by mouth. Some children also took a long-acting form of insulin.

At the end of the study, children who took Victoza with metformin, with or without insulin, had their HbA1c lowered by an average of 0.64%. Children who took placebo with metformin, with or without insulin, had their HbA1c lowered by an average of 0.42%.

Also, 63.7% of children taking Victoza with these other drugs reached a HbA1c of less than 7%. Of children who took the placebo with these other drugs, 36.5% had the same result.

Your doctor may prescribe other diabetes medications for you to take with Victoza. It's often used in combination with drugs including metformin (Glumetza, Glucophage) and insulin products. In fact, clinical studies found that Victoza was effective as an add-on therapy to several other diabetes medications.

Talk with your doctor about your medication regimen. They can discuss with you the best drug combinations to help you achieve your goals for blood glucose levels.

You should take Victoza according to your doctor or healthcare provider's instructions.

Your healthcare provider will show you how to inject Victoza before your first dose. Then, you'll self-inject the medication at home once each day.

Victoza is given as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection. You can inject Victoza into your upper arm, thigh, or belly. If you inject into your belly, make sure to stay at least 2 inches away from your belly button.

If you're injecting Victoza at the same time as you're injecting insulin, be sure to never mix the drug solutions together. This can make the medications less effective for you. You can inject each of the drugs into the same area of your body, but not close to each other. Make sure to leave several inches between the two injections.

Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Victoza, has step-by-step instructions for how to self-inject the drug. They also have video instructions available for you to watch online.

How to inject in children

If your child has been prescribed Victoza and needs help with injections, your healthcare provider will teach you how to give them the injection.

When to take

Victoza should be taken once a day. It can be taken at any time of day.

To help make sure that you don't miss a dose, try setting a reminder on your phone. A medication timer may be useful, too.

Drinking alcohol while using Victoza can increase your risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This happens because alcohol blocks your liver from releasing glucose (sugar) when your blood sugar levels are low. When alcohol and Victoza are taken together, your risk of severe hypoglycemia is increased.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much alcohol is safe for you to drink while you're using Victoza.

Using more than the recommended dosage of Victoza can lead to serious side effects.

Overdose symptoms

Symptoms of an overdose can include:

  • severe nausea
  • severe vomiting

What to do in case of overdose

If you think you've taken too much of this drug, call your doctor. You can also call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use their online tool. But if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

There aren't enough studies in humans to know if it's safe to use Victoza during pregnancy. In animal studies, harm to fetuses was seen after pregnant females were given the drug. However, animal studies don't always predict what will happen in humans.

If you're pregnant or may become pregnant, and you have diabetes, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking Victoza during pregnancy. They can discuss with you which medications are recommended by the American Diabetes Association for treating diabetes in pregnancy.

It's not known if Victoza is safe to take during pregnancy. If you're able to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while you're using Victoza.

It's not known if Victoza is safe to take while you're breastfeeding. In animal studies, Victoza did pass into breast milk. However, animal studies don't always predict what will happen in humans.

If you're considering taking Victoza while you're breastfeeding, talk with your doctor about whether this is safe for your child.

Victoza can interact with several other medications. It can also interact with certain supplements as well as certain foods.

Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some interactions can interfere with how well a drug works. Other interactions can increase side effects or make them more severe.

Victoza and other medications

Below are lists of medications that can interact with Victoza. These lists don't contain all the drugs that may interact with Victoza.

Before taking Victoza, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Victoza and certain diabetes medications

Taking Victoza with certain diabetes drugs can increase your risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Examples of diabetes drugs that can increase your risk of hypoglycemia if taken with Victoza include:

  • glipizide (Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL)
  • glimepiride (Amaryl)
  • chlorpropamide
  • glyburide (Diabeta, Glynase)
  • repaglinide
  • nateglinide (Starlix)
  • mealtime insulins, such as insulin aspart (Fiasp, Novolog), insulin lispro (Admelog, Humalog)
  • long-acting insulins, such as insulin degludec (Tresiba), insulin glargine (Basaglar, Lantus, Toujeo)
  • all other insulins, including medications that contain a combination of drugs

If you need to take Victoza with one of these diabetes medications, your doctor may decrease your dosage of one or both drugs. Your doctor will also recommend that you check your blood sugar levels often. Talk with your doctor about how to prevent and treat hypoglycemia.

Victoza and medications that are taken by mouth

Taking Victoza with medications that are taken by mouth (swallowed) could prevent your body from properly absorbing the other medications. This is because Victoza slows down how long it takes your stomach to empty after you've eaten or drunk anything.

It's possible that Victoza will cause the other drug to stay in your stomach and not be absorbed into your bloodstream. This could make the other drug less effective for you.

Talk with your doctor about all medications that you take with Victoza. Your doctor will closely monitor how effective these other medications are for you.

The method used to monitor how effective a drug is for you depends on the individual drug. For example, if you take blood pressure medications with Victoza, your doctor will monitor your blood pressure to make sure your body is absorbing that drug.

Victoza and herbs and supplements

There aren't any herbs or supplements that have been specifically reported to interact with Victoza. However, you should still check with your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these products while taking Victoza.

As with all medications, the cost of Victoza can vary. To find current prices for Victoza in your area, check out GoodRx.com:

The cost you find on GoodRx.com is what you may pay without insurance. The actual price you'll pay depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Financial and insurance assistance

If you need financial support to pay for Victoza, or if you need help understanding your insurance coverage, help is available. To find more about your insurance coverage of Victoza, visit the company website or call 877-4VICTOZA (877-484-2869).

Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Victoza, offers a copay card to help lower the cost of Victoza. You can request a copay card by visiting the program website.

The manufacturer also offers financial assistance to people who can't afford Victoza. To learn more about this assistance, visit the Patient Assistance Program website or call 866-310-7549.

Victoza helps improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It also reduces the risk of major cardiovascular (heart- and blood vessel-related) events in adults who have both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Cardiovascular events include conditions such as heart attack and stroke.

How it treats type 2 diabetes

With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn't respond to insulin the way it should. Insulin is a hormone made in your pancreas. Its role is to move sugar from your bloodstream into your cells. Once inside your cells, the sugar is used for energy.

When your body doesn't respond to insulin properly, the sugar can't get into your cells. This prevents your cells from working properly. It also causes high levels of sugar in your blood, which can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves, and other organs.

Victoza contains the drug liraglutide, which is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. Drugs in this class are made to act like GLP-1, which is a naturally occurring hormone in your body. The GLP-1 hormone helps regulate your blood sugar levels and makes you feel full after you've eaten a meal.

Victoza improves your blood sugar levels in several ways:

  • It increases how much insulin your pancreas releases.
  • It prevents your liver from releasing more glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream.
  • It causes your stomach to empty more slowly than usual after a meal, which slows down how fast sugar from the food you ate is released into your blood.

How it reduces risk of cardiovascular events

Victoza has also been found to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events in people who have both type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The exact way that Victoza reduces this risk isn't known for sure. However, it's thought that Victoza helps your heart muscles use sugar and oxygen more effectively. This reduces how hard your heart has to work, which may lead to a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.

How long does it take to work?

Victoza starts working in your body within several hours after you start taking it. However, it may take 1 to 4 weeks to see the full effects of the drug on your blood sugar levels.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Victoza.

Can I use Victoza if I have type 1 diabetes?

No, Victoza isn't approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat type 1 diabetes. However, there has been research to test the effectiveness of using Victoza to treat this condition.

A pooled analysis of several studies found that Victoza may be effective as an add-on treatment to insulin for people with type 1 diabetes. But more studies are needed to know whether Victoza is safe and effective for this condition.

If you have type 1 diabetes, talk with your doctor to see if Victoza is right for you.

Will I still need to use my mealtime insulin with Victoza?

Yes, you may still need to take insulin or other diabetes drugs with Victoza. This may be needed if Victoza treatment alone isn't effective enough to improve your blood sugar levels.

Talk with your doctor about your blood sugar levels and whether you still need to take your mealtime insulin. Don't stop taking insulin or other diabetes medications unless your doctor tells you to.

Is it better to take Victoza in the morning or in the evening?

You can take Victoza at any time of the day. It will be just as effective in the morning as it is in the evening. However, you should choose the time for your injection that's easiest for you to do consistently.

If you find that taking Victoza in the morning causes you more side effects, such as nausea or vomiting, you can try taking it at nighttime. Doing so may decrease how severe your side effects are.

Is Victoza a type of insulin?

No, Victoza isn't a type of insulin. Victoza belongs to a different class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. Drugs in this class work to lower your blood sugar levels in a different way than insulin does. See the "How Victoza works" section above for more information.

Will Victoza make me gain weight?

No, Victoza shouldn't make you gain weight. In fact, in a year-long clinical study, people who took Victoza alone lost an average of between 4.6 and 5.5 pounds. This was compared to an average weight gain of 2.4 pounds in people who took glimepiride (a different diabetes medication).

In other clinical studies, people took Victoza in combination with other diabetes drugs. In those studies, the amount of weight people lost or gained varied.

If you're concerned about gaining weight during Victoza treatment, talk with your doctor. They can recommend diet and exercise tips to help you maintain your healthy weight.

This drug comes with several precautions.

FDA warning: Risk of thyroid cancer

This drug has a boxed warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Victoza causes certain types of thyroid cancer in animals. This includes medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), which develops in C cells (cells in the thyroid gland that make the hormone calcitonin). It's not known whether Victoza causes these tumors in humans. Victoza shouldn't be used by people who've had MTC in the past or people whose family members have had MTC.

Also, Victoza shouldn't be used in people with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN2). This condition is another hormone-related cancer.

During Victoza treatment, your doctor will monitor you closely for symptoms of MTC. Symptoms of MTC include a growth (lump) in your neck, trouble swallowing, hoarse voice, and shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms, tell your doctor right away. They may have you stop Victoza treatment.

Other warnings

Before taking Victoza, talk with your doctor about your health history. Victoza may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. These include:

  • Severe allergic reaction to Victoza. You shouldn't take Victoza if you've had a severe allergic reaction to Victoza or any of its ingredients. If you're unsure of whether you've had a severe allergic reaction to Victoza, talk with your doctor.
  • Slow stomach emptying. Victoza causes your stomach to empty more slowly after eating or drinking. It's not known if Victoza is safe to take if you have gastroparesis (slow stomach emptying, which may be caused by nerve problems). If you have gastroparesis, talk with your doctor about whether Victoza is safe for you.
  • Pregnancy. Animal studies have found harm to the fetus when the pregnant female received Victoza. For more information, please see the "Victoza and pregnancy" section above.
  • Breastfeeding. It's not known for sure if Victoza is safe to use while breastfeeding.For more information, please see the "Victoza and breastfeeding" section above.

Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Victoza, see the "Victoza side effects" section above.

When you get Victoza from the pharmacy, the pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on the package. This date is typically 1 year from the date they dispensed the medication.

The expiration date helps guarantee the effectiveness of the medication during this time. The current stance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to avoid using expired medications. If you have unused medication that has gone past the expiration date, talk with your pharmacist about whether you might still be able to use it.

Storage

How long a medication remains good can depend on many factors, including how and where you store the medication.

Victoza pens should be stored in the refrigerator (at a temperature of 36°F to 46°F/2°C to 8°C) until the pen is used for the first time. After the first use, the pen can be stored at room temperature (59°F to 86°F/15°C to 30°C) or in the refrigerator for up to 30 days.

Always remove and properly dispose of used needles before storing your Victoza pen. Store Victoza pens with the cap on them. Protect the pens from heat and light.

Disposal

Be sure to remove the needle from your Victoza pen after each use. Throw away the used needles in a sharps container or other container that's made of heavy-duty plastic. Keep the container closed and out of reach of children and pets. Be familiar with ways to safely dispose of used needles and containers in your community.

If you no longer need to take Victoza and have leftover medication, it's important to dispose of it safely. This helps prevent others, including children and pets, from taking the drug by accident. It also helps keep the drug from harming the environment.

The FDA website provides several useful tips on medication disposal. You can also ask your pharmacist for information on how to dispose of your medication.

The following information is provided for clinicians and other healthcare professionals.

Indications

Victoza (liraglutide) is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve blood glucose control in adults and children ages 10 years and older with type 2 diabetes. It's approved for use in combination with diet and exercise.

Victoza is also FDA-approved to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular (CV) events, including nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, and CV death, in adults with established CV disease and type 2 diabetes.

Mechanism of action

Victoza is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. By activating the GLP-1 receptor on pancreatic beta cells, Victoza stimulates G-protein coupled receptors which causes an increase in intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP). Increased cAMP leads to glucose-dependent insulin release.

Victoza also improves blood sugar levels by decreasing glucagon secretion and delaying gastric emptying.

Pharmacokinetics and metabolism

Maximum serum concentrations of Victoza are reached 8 to 12 hours after subcutaneous injection. Exposure to Victoza is considered equivalent following subcutaneous injection at each of the following sites: upper arm, abdomen, and thigh.

Absolute bioavailability is approximately 55%. Binding to plasma proteins is >98%. Metabolism occurs via similar mechanisms as proteolysis, with no predominant route of elimination. Elimination half-life is approximately 13 hours.

Contraindications

Victoza is contraindicated in people with any of the following:

  • a history of serious hypersensitivity to Victoza or any of its ingredients
  • multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2)
  • personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)

Storage

Victoza should be refrigerated (36°F to 46°F/2°C to 8°C) prior to first use. After using Victoza the first time, it can be stored refrigerated or at room temperature (59°F to 86°F/15°C to 30°C) for up to 30 days. Store the pen with the cap on. Protect from heat and light.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.