Ozempic vs Victoza: What’s The Difference?

By Jennifer Nadel, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
January 24, 2023

Key takeaways

  • Ozempic (semaglutide) and Victoza are GLP-1 agonists prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes and the associated health risks, such as cardiovascular disease.

  • Both Ozempic and Victoza work by lowering blood sugar levels and slowing down the rate your body absorbs food, which can result in weight loss.

  • If you have type 2 diabetes, your medical provider can help you determine the best course of treatment.

Type 2 diabetes is a common-but-serious medical condition that results in high blood sugar levels. People with type 2 diabetes have developed insulin resistance. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels can increase the risk of severe medical conditions such as heart disease, organ damage, and nerve damage. 

Given the health risks associated with type 2 diabetes, it’s important to maintain normal blood sugar levels. One way to do that is with GLP-1 agonist—a class of medications used to lower blood sugar by stimulating insulin release. These drugs, such as Ozempic and Victoza, can help manage blood sugar and, in turn, reduce the risk of damage to organs and blood vessels.

While these two drugs work similarly, some key differences exist. Read on to learn more about the difference between Ozempic and Victoza, including their side effects, cost, and interactions. 

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a prescription FDA-approved drug for type 2 diabetes. Its active ingredient, semaglutide, is part of a drug class known as GLP-1 agonists. 

GLP-1, or glucagon-like peptide 1, is a chemical your body naturally produces to control your blood sugar levels. GLP-1 agonists like semaglutide work by:

  • Helping your body produce insulin
  • Preventing your liver from releasing glucagon
  • Decreasing the rate at which your body digests food.

For these reasons, Ozempic can help treat type 2 diabetes and prevent the risk of complications from diabetes. Ozempic may also result in weight loss, but it’s not approved by the FDA for weight loss purposes alone. 

Ozempic is currently approved for use in adults, but other forms of semaglutide are approved for use in some children.


Ozempic is an injectable medication that’s taken once a week. Injection sites include the upper arm, abdomen, and thigh.


Ozempic dosage varies. People taking Ozempic usually start at a dosage strength of 0.25 mg weekly, increasing to 0.5 mg weekly after four weeks. If a person’s blood sugar is not improving after four weeks, Ozempic can be increased to 1 mg per week, which is the maximum dose. 

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What is Victoza?

Victoza’s active ingredient is called liraglutide. Like Ozempic, Victoza is a GLP-1 agonist that can help lower blood sugar levels and slow down digestion. It’s FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes in adults and children over ten years of age. Though taking the medication may result in weight loss, it’s not approved for weight loss alone.


As with Ozempic, Victoza is a pre-filled pen injected into body fat. Instead of self-injecting once per week, people taking Victoza inject the drug once daily. 


The starting dosage strength of Victoza is 0.6 mg daily for one week. After a week, people increase to 1.2 mg daily. If blood sugar levels are not improving on that dose, a doctor may recommend increasing it to a 1.8 mg dose, which is the maximum dosage strength. 

Side Effects

Any prescription drug can cause unwanted side effects, including Ozempic and Victoza. Below are some of the most common side effects of both medications. 

Mild Ozempic side effects

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain 

Mild Victoza side effects

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Indigestion
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors

Serious Ozempic side effects

  • A type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma
  • Kidney failure
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Vision changes
  • Very low blood sugar
  • Allergic reactions

Serious Victoza side effects

  • A type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma
  • Kidney failure
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Very low blood sugar
  • Gallbladder problems 
  • Allergic reactions 

If you are taking either Ozempic or Victoza and you experience unwanted side effects, speak to your doctor. Seek emergency medical care if you’re experiencing any symptoms of serious side effects while taking either of these medications. 

Effectiveness of Ozempic vs Victoza

Both Ozempic and Victoza can be effective for treating type 2 diabetes and preventing medical risks associated with this condition. 

Managing blood sugar levels

Ozempic and Victoza can help manage blood sugar levels by helping your body produce more insulin and preventing the liver from releasing glucagon into the bloodstream. A 2020 study suggests Ozempic is slightly better at lowering blood sugar than Victoza; however, Ozempic was also shown to have more side effects. Your doctor can help determine whether Ozempic or Victoza is best for you. 

Lowering cardiovascular risks

Chronically high blood sugar levels can increase the risk of heart disease. Both Ozempic and Victoza can help lower the risk of cardiovascular problems by controlling blood sugar. 

A meta-analysis of several studies found both drugs to be effective. If you want to learn more about protecting yourself from cardiovascular disease, your provider can help you understand your risk factors and how to improve your heart health. 

Weight loss

Neither Ozempic nor Victoza are FDA approved for weight loss. However, both drugs may result in weight loss and appetite reduction. A 2020 study suggests Ozempic may cause more weight loss than Victoza. Ozempic is also associated with more side effects, such as stomach upset, which could contribute to weight loss.  

Foods to Avoid

Neither drug interacts negatively with foods, so you don’t need to avoid any particular food when taking them. You can take Ozempic or Victoza with or without food.

While there’s no direct interaction, it’s best to limit your consumption of alcoholic drinks when you take these medications. Alcohol can lower your blood sugar levels, making you more likely to experience hypoglycemia. 

One of the most common side effects of both drugs is nausea. Avoiding fatty, fried, or spicy food may help prevent indigestion and nausea. It may help to eat bland foods if you’re feeling sick while taking either medication.

Cost of Ozempic vs Victoza

The cost of your prescription medication depends on factors such as your insurance (if you have any), pharmacy, and dosage strength. Medication is generally more affordable if you use prescription drug coverage. You can check with your health insurance company to determine if your plan covers Ozempic or Victoza. 

Using generic versions of prescription drugs can also save money. However, there are no generic alternatives to Ozempic and Victoza at this time. 

If you don’t have medical insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover these medications, you still have options. Check with your pharmacy to see if they have coupons. You can also contact the drug manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, to find out if they offer discounts or savings programs. 

Warnings and Interactions

Before prescribing Ozempic or Victoza, your doctor will ask you about your personal and medical history. The FDA has a boxed warning on both drugs about an increased risk of thyroid cancer. You shouldn’t take Ozempic or Victoza if you or a relative has had a condition called medullary thyroid cancer. You should also avoid taking these medications if you have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. 

Both drugs may also increase the risk of pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas. Seek emergency care if you’re taking either drug and experience severe abdominal pain and vomiting.

You can take other diabetes medications with both Ozempic and Victoza, but your risk of low blood sugar may be higher. Both drugs may negatively interact with other medicines. You should monitor your blood sugar carefully during treatment. If you take more than one diabetes medication, your provider may want to adjust one of your medications.

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to be, as these medications aren’t suitable during pregnancy.

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Which Is Best?

Ozempic and Victoza can both be effective in treating type 2 diabetes. They can also both prevent complications that may arise from type 2 diabetes. 

As with any medication, Ozempic and Victoza have pros and cons. Your doctor can help you weigh the potential benefits and risks of taking either drug along with helping manage your type 2 diabetes. 


Ozempic and Victoza can help manage blood sugar levels and reduce a person’s risk of medical complications—but these drugs aren’t for everyone. If you have type 2 diabetes, it’s essential to work with your medical provider to find the most effective and safest treatment plan for your health.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Victoza or Ozempic better for weight loss?
Both Victoza and Ozempic are FDA-approved for treating type 2 diabetes. While both drugs may result in weight loss, they are not typically prescribed for weight loss alone. If you need help reaching a healthy weight, your medical provider is the best resource.
Are Victoza and Ozempic the same?
Victoza and Ozempic are both GLP-1 agonists and work similarly to help lower blood sugar levels. That said, they have some key differences. To learn more about these two drugs and how they work, speak to your medical provider.
Why was Victoza taken off the market?
As with all medications, health benefits may outweigh certain risks. In 2013, the FDA investigated Victoza after claims it may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. The drug manufacturer has since placed a black box warning on the drug warning consumers about potential dangers. It’s best to discuss your questions and concerns about Victoza with your doctor.
What is better than Ozempic?
Ozempic, or semaglutide, is an injectable drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. Every medication comes with risks and benefits. If you want to learn more about the best medicine for your type 2 diabetes, speak with your medical provider.
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.

Jennifer Nadel, MD

Dr. Jennifer Nadel is a board certified emergency medicine physician and received her medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine. She has worked in varied practice environments, including academic urban level-one trauma centers, community hospital emergency departments, skilled nursing facilities, telemedicine, EMS medical control, and flight medicine.

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