Saxenda and Victoza are brand-name injection pens that contain the same active drug, liraglutide. Saxenda is used for weight management. Victoza is used to treat type 2 diabetes and to lower the risk of heart problems.
This article explains the main similarities and differences between Saxenda and Victoza. If you’re considering taking one of these drugs, discussing this information with your doctor can help you decide whether one of these treatments may be right for you.
Saxenda and Victoza both contain the same active drug: liraglutide.
Liraglutide belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way.
GLP-1 agonists work by increasing insulin levels and decreasing appetite.
Victoza and Saxenda both come as liquid solutions in prefilled pens. The pens are used to inject the drug subcutaneously. Each drug’s pen holds 18 milligrams (mg) of liraglutide in 3 milliliters (mL) of solution.
Both medications are self-injected once per day. But the dosages 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 per day. The dosage you use will depend on the treatment plan your doctor prescribes for you.
- Saxenda is used in a higher dosage than Victoza. Your dosage will gradually be increased over the first 5 weeks of treatment. The recommended dosage of Saxenda is 3 mg once per day.
Victoza and Saxenda both contain the active drug liraglutide. But they’re approved for different uses.
Victoza is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help manage 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 improved diet and exercise.
Victoza is also approved to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events in people with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular events include heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular-related death.
Note: Victoza isn’t approved for type 1 diabetes. And it’s not approved to help people lose weight.
Saxenda is FDA-approved to help with long-term weight loss. It’s meant to be used in combination with improved diet and exercise.
Saxenda is used for adults with either:
- A body mass index (BMI) of 30 kilograms* per square meter (kg/m2) or greater.
- A BMI of 27 kg/m2 or greater and a weight-related condition. Weight-related conditions include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
Saxenda is also used for children ages 12 years and older who:
- weigh more than 60 kg (about 132 lb) and
- have obesity based on their age, sex, and height (equivalent to an adult BMI of 30 kg/m2 or greater)
Saxenda isn’t approved to help manage blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. And it’s not approved for weight loss in children under 12 years old.
* 2.2 kg is equal to approximately 1 pound (lb).
Saxenda and Victoza and weight loss
Saxenda and Victoza contain the same active drug, but only Saxenda is approved to help with weight loss. Victoza isn’t approved for weight loss.
Some people who take Victoza for type 2 diabetes may lose some weight with the drug. But Saxenda is used in a higher dosage than Victoza. This helps people lose much more weight.
If you’d like to learn more about using Saxenda for weight management, talk with your doctor.
Both Saxenda and Victoza are brand-name drugs. Neither drug comes in a generic form. Brand-name medications are often more expensive than generics.
* Optum Perks is a sister site of Medical News Today.
Saxenda and Victoza both contain the same active drug, but they’re used in different dosages. Because of this, these drugs can cause some of the same side effects, but some different ones as well. Some of these side effects are mentioned below.
For more details about side effects of the two drugs, see our side effect articles about Saxenda and Victoza. You can also refer to the Saxenda prescribing information and Victoza prescribing information.
Mild side effects
The following lists address some of the most common mild side effects of Saxenda and Victoza, as well as some that both drugs share.
- Can occur with Saxenda:
- Can occur with Victoza:
- upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold
- back pain
- Can occur with both Saxenda and Victoza:
These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. If the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
The following lists address the serious side effects of Saxenda and Victoza, as well as some that both drugs share.
- Can occur with Saxenda:
- increased heart rate
- suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Can occur with Victoza:
- few unique serious side effects
- Can occur with both Saxenda and Victoza:
If you have serious side effects while using Saxenda or Victoza, call your doctor immediately. If the side effects feel life threatening or you believe you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.
* Saxenda and Victoza both have a boxed warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for thyroid cancer. A boxed warning is the strongest warning the FDA requires. It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous. For more information on this boxed warning, see the “Precautions for Saxenda and Victoza” section below.
Saxenda is approved to help with long-term weight loss in people with overweight or obesity. Victoza is approved to help manage blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. It’s also approved to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease in people with both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Both drugs have been found to be effective for their approved uses.
In clinical guidelines from the American Diabetes Association, Victoza is recommended as a treatment option for people with type 2 diabetes. (Clinical guidelines for the treatment of obesity are limited.)
Saxenda and Victoza share some of the same warnings, but they also have different ones. Some of these warnings are mentioned below. Before you start using Saxenda or Victoza, be sure to talk with your doctor to see if these warnings apply to you.
Boxed warning: Risk of thyroid tumors
These drugs both have 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.
Saxenda and Victoza increase the risk of thyroid tumors in animals. It’s not known whether these drugs also increase the risk of thyroid tumors in humans.
You shouldn’t take Saxenda or Victoza if you or a family member have ever had medullary thyroid carcinoma. And you shouldn’t take these drugs if you have a rare form of cancer called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2.
See your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of thyroid cancer while taking Saxenda or Victoza. Symptoms may include a lump in your neck, hoarseness, trouble swallowing, or shortness of breath.
In addition to boxed warnings, Saxenda and Victoza have other warnings.
If any of the following medical conditions or other health factors are relevant to you, talk with your doctor before using Saxenda or Victoza.
|if you’ve had an allergic reaction to the drug or any of its ingredients||✓||✓|
|if you’re pregnant or can become pregnant*||✓||✓|
|if you’re breastfeeding or thinking about breastfeeding*||✓||✓|
|if you have or have had kidney problems||✓||✓|
|if you have or have had gastroparesis||✓||✓|
|if you have or have had pancreatitis||✓||✓|
|if you have or have had gallbladder problems||✓||✓|
|if you have diabetes or take diabetes medication||✓||✓|
|if you have or have had liver problems||✓|
|if you have or have had a mental health condition, including depression or suicidal thoughts||✓|
|if you have or have had heart problems||✓|
* Saxenda should not be used during pregnancy. This is because weight loss should not be attempted while someone is pregnant. It’s not known whether liraglutide is safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so Victoza may be considered. If you’re pregnant or can become pregnant, talk with your doctor before starting either drug.
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
Since Saxenda and Victoza contain the same active drug, you may wonder if it’s possible to switch between them. Despite their similarities, switching between these drugs isn’t recommended because they’re approved for different uses.
If you’re using one of these drugs and wondering if another might be a better option for you, talk with your doctor. They can let you know if either Saxenda or Victoza, or a different drug, might be a good treatment for you.
It’s important that you do not stop, start, or switch any of your drug treatments without your doctor’s recommendation.
If you’re interested in taking Saxenda or Victoza for weight loss or type 2 diabetes, talk with your doctor.
Some key points to remember when comparing Saxenda and Victoza include:
- These drugs aren’t interchangeable, even though they contain the same ingredient. Victoza is approved for type 2 diabetes, while Saxenda is approved for weight loss.
- Saxenda is used in a higher dosage than Victoza and has additional warnings and side effects.
If you’d like to learn more about Saxenda or Victoza, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about similarities and differences between the drugs. They can also help determine whether one drug or the other might work well for you.
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 another 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.