Saxenda vs Victoza: What’s the Difference?

By Terez Malka, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
July 28, 2022

Saxenda and Victoza are both brand-name injectable medications that deliver the active compound liraglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1s receptor agonist (GLP-1). 

As a class of medication, GLP-1s have been shown to be effective in the treatment of both type 2 diabetes and chronic weight management.

Examples of other GLP-1 medications include dulaglutide (Trulicity) and semaglutide (Wegovy and Ozempic). 

Though both Saxenda and Victoza contain liraglutide, Saxenda is available in higher doses of liraglutide.

Another important difference between the two medications is that, unlike Victoza, Saxenda is not approved by the FDA to treat type 2 diabetes

Importantly, both medications should be used in combination with a diet and exercise program recommended by a healthcare provider. 

What is Saxenda?

The FDA originally approved Liraglutide, sold under the brand name Victoza as a treatment for type 2 diabetes in 2010. 

But in 2017, a higher dose of liraglutide was approved by the FDA for the treatment of chronic weight management (or in support of weight loss), sold under the name Saxenda.

Saxenda is usually injected once per day.

Saxenda should be used in conjunction with behavioral modifications, such as diet and exercise, that a healthcare provider recommends to support weight loss. 

Saxenda is indicated for use in adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher or adults with a BMI of 27 and higher who also have a metabolic health condition, like high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. 

It can also be used in children 12 years, and older who weigh more than 132 pounds (60 kg) or whose BMI is equivalent to an adult BMI of 30 or greater.

What is Victoza?

Victoza is also an injectable GLP-1 medication that delivers the active ingredient liraglutide.

However, it is available in smaller doses than Saxenda.

Like Saxenda, Victoza is usually injected once per day.

The FDA approved Victoza in 2010 for treating type 2 diabetes. It can be used to treat type 2 diabetes in adults or children 10 years and older.

Unlike Saxenda, it is not approved for weight loss (though it can cause weight loss in some people).

Saxenda vs. Victoza

Victoza and Saxenda are both FDA-approved GLP-1 medications that contain the active compound liraglutide.

However, Victoza is approved to treat type 2 diabetes in adults and children 10 years and older, while Saxenda is approved for chronic weight management in certain adults and children 12 years and older. 

Medication classActive compoundDrug administrationStarting doseHighest dose availableGained FDA approvalApproved to treat
SaxendaGLP-1LiraglutideInjection0.6 mg/day3.0 mg/day2017Chronic weight management
VictozaGLP-1LiraglutideInjection0.6 mg/day1.8 mg/day2010Type 2 diabetes

Uses

Saxenda

Saxenda is approved to treat chronic weight management in certain adults and children aged 12 and older.

It is not approved to treat type 2 diabetes in adults or children.

When first starting out on Saxenda, your provider will start you on a low dose and gradually increase that dosage over several weeks.

The recommended dosage of Saxenda is 3mg per day.

To be prescribed Saxenda, you must meet certain criteria.

If you’re an adult, you may be prescribed Saxenda if you:

  • Have a BMI of 30 or higher
  • Have a BMI of 27 or higher and also have a certain metabolic health condition, like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure

Saxenda can also be used in children 12 years and older who:

  • Weigh 132 pounds or more (60kg+)
  • Have a BMI equivalent to an adult measure of 30 or higher 

Importantly, Saxenda (like all GLP-1 medications) should be used alongside lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise.

Before taking Saxenda, talk to your provider about recommended diet and exercise programs for you and your health goals.

Victoza

Victoza is approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in adults and children 10 years and older.

Though it is not approved as a weight loss medication, it can cause weight loss in some people.

Like Saxenda, Victoza is injected once daily.

Victoza can be injected into the stomach, upper arm, or thigh. Victoza is available in several doses.

Depending on your health and how you react to the medication, your provider may recommend one of the following doses:

  • 0.6 mg per day
  • 1.2 mg per day
  • 1.8 mg per day

Victoza should also be used in combination with behavioral and lifestyle modifications, including diet and exercise changes.

It’s important to speak with your healthcare provider about which modifications you can implement safely and sustainably in order to increase the benefits of the medication.

Side Effects

Victoza and Saxenda can cause similar side effects. The most common of these side effects are mild, but serious side effects are also possible. 

Saxenda

The most common possible side effects of Saxenda include:

Unfortunately, serious side effects are also possible.

If you experience any of the following, seek emergency treatment:

  • Ongoing pain that begins in the upper left or middle of the stomach but can spread to the back
  • New or worsening depression
  • Suicidal ideation (thinking about harming or killing yourself)
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Heart pounding
  • Fainting or feeling dizzy
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, tongue, or throat
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

Victoza

Because Victoza and Saxenda contain the same active compound, liraglutide, their side effect profiles are identical.

The most common side effects of Victoza are:

Rare but serious side effects include:

  • Ongoing pain that begins in the upper left or middle of the stomach but can spread to the back
  • New or worsening depression
  • Suicidal ideation (thinking about harming or killing yourself)
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Heart pounding
  • Fainting or feeling dizzy
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, tongue, or throat
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

If you experience any of the above symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Effectiveness

Research consistently shows promising results in the reduction of body weight in patients with obesity with and without diabetes when taking medications that contain liraglutide.

Liraglutide helps to improve insulin production in the pancreas, slow down the rate of stomach emptying, and stabilize glucose and insulin levels after eating.

Liraglutide also helps to induce and sustain weight loss and improve glycemic control in patients with obesity. 

Saxenda

Five randomized, placebo‐controlled trials found that Saxenda consistently helped patients lose at least 5-10% of their body weight in combination with recommended diet and exercise modifications.

Research also shows that Saxenda may offer additional long-term benefits, including improved glycemic control.

Victoza

Research shows that Victoza injected once daily can improve fasting and glycemic control in certain adults and children with type 2 diabetes.

Studies also show that as the dose of Victoza increases, both HbA1c levels and body weight decrease.

Though not approved specifically for weight loss, studies indicate that liraglutide can also cause weight loss due to reduced hunger and energy intake while on the medication.

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K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Terez Malka, MD

Dr. Terez Malka is a board-certified pediatrician and emergency medicine physician.

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