Saxenda vs. Ozempic: Comparing Weight Loss Medications

By Robynn Lowe
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
February 24, 2023

Key takeaways

  • Saxenda is a prescription injection medication for overweight and obesity, whereas Ozempic is a prescription injection medication for type 2 diabetes.

  • The most common side effects of both include nausea, vomiting, and changes in stool pattern.

  • Both medications are available with a prescription from your medical provider. Talk with your provider if you think Saxenda or Ozempic is right for you.

Saxenda and Ozempic are similar medications prescribed through your medical provider. They are both glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists, which help manage blood sugar and slow gastric emptying. However, the active ingredient in the medications is different. They also do not have FDA approval to treat the same health conditions.

Read on to learn about the differences between Saxenda and Ozempic, intended use, side effects, cost, and availability. 

What is Saxenda (Liraglutide)?

Saxenda (liraglutide) is a daily injectable prescription medication taken in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and physical activity for weight management. The medication is for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater or 27 or greater with at least one weight-related serious comorbidity. 

It belongs to the class of medications called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. The active ingredient, liraglutide, works by stimulating insulin production in the body, decreasing glucagon release from the liver, and slowing food emptying from the stomach during digestion.

Saxenda comes in a pre-filled pen which you use to give yourself daily injections. It’s a subcutaneous injection, which means it’s given in the abdomen, upper arm, or thigh. You should alternate the injection site and give your injection at the same time each day. You can take Saxenda with or without food. 

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What is Ozempic (Semaglutide)?

Ozempic (semaglutide) is a once-weekly prescription injection to help control type 2 diabetes. The medication is designed to work alongside diet and exercise. It helps improve blood sugar levels by stimulating the pancreas to secrete insulin when blood sugar levels rise and lowering how much glucagon the liver releases. 

It also slows the rate food leaves the stomach, which delays sugar entering the bloodstream. This delay can also help suppress appetite. Because of this, some people lose weight while taking Ozempic. However, it’s not specifically a weight-loss medication.

Ozempic comes in a pre-filled pen, very similar to an insulin pen. You give yourself an injection each week on the same day at a specific time. It can be taken with food or without. 

Saxenda and Ozempic Compared

Saxenda and Ozempic work in the body in a similar manner. However, they have FDA approval to treat different conditions. Read on to learn which medication may be best for your health needs. 



This medication is used with diet and exercise to assist with weight loss in people with:


This medication is used with diet and exercise to:

  • Manage blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes
  • Lower the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke in adults with type 2 diabetes and heart disease

Side Effects


The most common Saxenda side effects include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Injection site reaction
  • Headache
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Fever
  • Gastritis

Rare but serious side effects include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Increased heart rate
  • Kidney injury
  • Allergic reaction
  • Suicidal behavior and ideation

Black Box Warning:

  • Risk of Thyroid C-cell tumors


The most common Ozempic side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain

Rare but serious side effects include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Blurred vision
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney injury


The following medication prices are taken from Novo Nordisk, the manufacturing company of both Saxenda and Ozempic. They are based on the list price and do not include insurance.

Quantity: 15 mL
Dosage: 18 mg/3 mL
List Price: $1,349.02
Quantity: 1.5 mL
Dosage: 2 mg/1.5 mL
List Price: $892.06


Both Saxenda and Ozempic are available with a prescription from your medical provider. If you believe one of these medications would benefit your health, make an appointment with your healthcare professional to discuss your options. With a prescription, you can pick the medication up at your preferred pharmacy. 

K Health medical providers can send an electronic copy of your prescription to your preferred pharmacy, where you can pick it up at your convenience.

Key Differences

Saxenda and Ozempic have several key differences, the main one being that Ozempic only treats adults with type 2 diabetes and is not a weight loss medication. Saxenda treats adults with obesity and overweight and is considered a weight loss medication. 

Other key differences include:

  • Ozempic’s active ingredient is semaglutide; Saxenda’s active ingredient is liraglutide
  • Ozempic is a once-weekly injection; Saxenda is a daily injection
  • Cost is also a significant difference between the two medications

Both medications have a strict “black box” warning from the FDA. During animal trials for each medication, there was an increased risk of thyroid cancer in mice and rats. Currently, it’s unknown if this risk relates to humans as well. 


Both Saxenda and Ozempic are injectable medications used with diet and exercise. Ozempic is intended for people with type 2 diabetes, and Saxenda helps people with overweight or obesity manage weight loss. They are both GLP-1 agonists that help maintain blood sugar levels and curb appetite. While Ozempic is not indicated for weight loss, it may still help aid weight loss. Key differences between these two drugs include cost, availability, side effects, and uses.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is better than Saxenda for weight loss?
Wegovy and Saxenda are both GLP-1 agonists; however, they have different active ingredients. Wegovy’s active ingredient is semaglutide, while Saxenda’s is liraglutide. In a recent clinical trial, overweight participants taking semaglutide had greater weight loss at 68 weeks than other overweight participants. It’s important to note that the two medications were not compared in the phase three trials. However, each person may react differently to the medication.
What is better than Ozempic for weight loss?
Mounjaro (tirzepatide) is another medication that treats type 2 diabetes and may help with weight loss. During clinical trials, participants taking Mounjaro saw the highest amount of weight loss.
Which is better: Saxenda or semaglutide?
This depends on your unique needs. Each person reacts to the medications differently. Saxenda (liraglutide) is a daily injectable medication, while semaglutide is a weekly injection. Some people may prefer to take their medication daily, while others prefer a weekly infection. Both of them work in similar ways.
Is there anything better than Saxenda?
If weight loss is your goal, medications that contain semaglutide have demonstrated better weight loss results than Saxenda. However, this is highly dependent on how your body reacts to the medications.

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.

Robynn Lowe

Robynn Lowe is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over 15 years in the medical field. Robynn received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Florida Atlantic University and has been practicing in rural family medicine since. Robynn is married to her college sweetheart, Raymond and they have three awesome children. When Robynn isn't with patients you can find her shopping, coaching her kids sports teams, or spending time on the water.

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