This content was reviewed and approved for its accuracy on 03/01/2022 by Professor Frank Joseph

Photograph of Professor Frank Joseph, weight loss expert for myBMI

Exenatide vs Liraglutide


Exenatide and Liraglutide may not be the most well-known words in the English dictionary but you may have come across one or both of them when searching for treatments for weight loss or type 2 diabetes.


As they come from the same family of medications, you may be wondering whether one of them is right for you, or whether you could choose to take one rather than the other.


With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at both of these medications, so you’ll know what each one is used for and whether you could benefit from either one.


What is Liraglutide?


Liraglutide is a medication that has a couple of uses, primarily as a treatment for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and as a weight loss medication.


When being used for diabetes it’s licensed under the brand name Victoza, but when it’s used for weight loss it’s known as Saxenda — a medication you may be familiar with if you’ve made it to our site.


It helps to reduce your blood sugar by stimulating the production of insulin, and it can also help to reduce your appetite, which is why it’s also been licensed as a weight loss medication.


Liraglutide is injected every day and is provided in an injection pen so patients can take charge of their own treatment and take their medication whenever is best for them.

Whether you’re using Liraglutide for diabetes or weight loss, you’ll need a prescription for it, which you can obtain through the NHS or from a private prescriber.


What is Exenatide?


Exenatide is another medication used for T2DM, and it is also used to control blood sugar levels and stimulate insulin production in the pancreas.


It’s available to diabetes patients on the NHS and is usually prescribed alongside other diabetes medications, especially in patients who have found it difficult to regulate their blood glucose levels while taking metformin.


Exenatide is an injectable medication and it’s available as a twice-daily injection (under the brand name Byetta) or as a weekly injection (Bydureon).


Both of these medications are equally effective, as they contain the same active ingredient, and your prescriber would recommend the best option for you after a consultation.


What is the difference between Exenatide and Liraglutide?


Exenatide and Liraglutide have a lot of similarities, they’re both injectable medications, they’re both used to treat type 2 diabetes, and they both help to stimulate insulin production and regulate blood sugar.


So what are the differences between the two?


The most obvious difference is how often you use each medication — Liraglutide is injected once a day whereas Exenatide can be injected either twice a day or once a week.


Another key difference is what they’re used for, while they can both be used for T2DM, only Liraglutide is licensed to be used for weight loss.


Still confused? Here’s a table that explains all the key differences at a glance:


comparing the medications Liraglutide and Exenatide.


Are Exenatide and Liraglutide used for the same thing?


Yes, Exenatide and Liraglutide can be used for the same thing — type 2 diabetes.


This is because they’re both one of a group of medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists or incretin mimetics.


All medications in this group act in the same way, including Exenatide, Liraglutide, Semaglutide, and Dulaglutide, but some of them are also used for a second reason.


Liraglutide and Semaglutide have been licensed for use in weight loss as well as T2DM, but Exenatide and other GLP-1 receptor agonists have not and should not be used for that purpose.


Do Byetta and Bydureon help with weight loss?


Weight loss is a known side effect of Byetta and Bydureon (which both contain Exenatide), but they are not licensed for use as weight loss medications.


Diabetes patients who are taking Exenatide may lose weight during their treatment for the same reason they would when they’re taking Saxenda.


The way GLP-1 receptor agonists work means that your appetite can be reduced, making it easier to stick to a lower-calorie diet and leading to weight loss.


This is precisely the reason that Liraglutide and Semaglutide were researched for their potential as weight loss medications in the first place, but this doesn’t mean that Exenatide should be taken for weight loss.


Hopefully, you can now tell the difference between Liraglutide and Exenatide, or at least have a better idea about why one of them may be prescribed for you.


Remember, if you have any questions your healthcare team are always the people to turn to for answers, so never be afraid to ask questions if you need to — knowledge is power!


In the meantime, why not check out some of our other articles about GLP-1 receptor agonists?

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