Saxenda and Victoza are both prescription medications that contain the same active drug: (liraglutide). But they have different approved uses:
- Victoza for diabetes: Victoza is used with improved diet and exercise to help control blood sugar levels in people ages 10 years and older with type 2 diabetes. It’s also used to reduce the risk of certain heart problems in adults with both type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Saxenda for weight loss: Saxenda is used to help with long-term weight loss in people ages 12 years and older with overweight or obesity.
Both Saxenda and Victoza are brand-name drugs. There’s not currently a generic version of either drug.
This article explains some of the key differences between Saxenda and Victoza. This information can help you consider if one of these drugs may be right for you.
Note: For more detailed information about Victoza, visit this comprehensive article.
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. Each drug’s pen holds 18 milligrams (mg) of liraglutide in 3 milliliters (mL) of solution.
Both medications are self-injected once a 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 a 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 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 improved diet and exercise.
Victoza is also approved to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events in people with type 2 diabetes and heart 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 132 pounds (60 kg) 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 improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. And it’s not approved for weight loss in children under 12 years old.
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 to lose weight, talk with your doctor.
How much Saxenda or Victoza costs depends on the treatment plan your doctor prescribes, your insurance plan, and your pharmacy. You can find price estimates for the medications on GoodRx.com.
Both Saxenda and Victoza are brand-name drugs. Neither drug comes in generic form. Brand-name medications are often more expensive than generics.
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.
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. For more information on mild side effects of the two drugs, see Saxenda’s medication guide and Victoza’s medication guide.
- Can occur with Saxenda:
- abdominal pain
- Can occur with Victoza:
- upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold
- Can occur with both Saxenda and Victoza:
- reactions at your injection site, such as redness, itching, or rash
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:
- kidney problems such as kidney failure
- gallbladder disease
- hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- severe allergic reactions
Note: For more information about Victoza’s mild and serious side effects, see our Victoza article.
* 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 “Warnings of 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 improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. It’s also approved to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease in people with both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Both drugs have been found to be effective for the uses they’re approved for.
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 for Saxenda and Victoza: 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 if 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. 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.
Warnings for Saxenda and Victoza include:
- Kidney problems. Both drugs can sometimes cause or worsen kidney failure. If you already have kidney problems, taking these drugs could make them worse. Your doctor will want to monitor your kidney function if you take one of these drugs.
- Slow stomach emptying. These drugs cause your stomach to empty more slowly after eating or drinking. If you have gastroparesis (slow stomach emptying, which may be caused by nerve problems), it’s not known if these drugs are safe for you. Talk with your doctor about whether you can take these drugs.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding. It’s not known if these drugs are safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Warnings for Saxenda include:
- Depression or suicidal thoughts. Some people taking Saxenda have experienced suicidal thoughts or behaviors. If you’ve ever had depression, suicidal thoughts, or another mental health condition, talk with your doctor about whether Saxenda is safe for you. If you have depression or thoughts about suicide or harming yourself while taking Saxenda, see your doctor right away.
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 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can call 800-799-4889.
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.
Never switch your medications without your doctor’s approval and guidance.
If you’re interested in taking Saxenda or Victoza for weight loss or type 2 diabetes, talk with your doctor.
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. Also, Saxenda is used in a higher dosage than Victoza and has additional warnings and side effects.
Your doctor can help you decide if one of these medications, or another diabetes or weight loss drug, is right for you. You can discuss with them the information in this article as well as your full health history. And your doctor or pharmacist can help answer any questions you may have about taking these drugs.
Note: For more information on diabetes, see our list of diabetes articles.
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.