This content was reviewed and approved for its accuracy on 10/11/2021 by Professor Frank Joseph

Photograph of Professor Frank Joseph, weight loss expert for myBMI

What’s the Difference Between Saxenda and Victoza?


Saxenda Vs Victoza


You may be aware that Saxenda, Victoza, and Liraglutide are all related, but do you know how?


Well, you’re in luck because today we’re going to take a closer look at these medications and shed some light on how Liraglutide is used for both weight loss and type 2 diabetes.


Let’s start by explaining what each of these medications are and how they work.



What is Saxenda?

Saxenda is a weight loss medication that is taken every day to help reduce your appetite and make you feel fuller for longer.


Saxenda is taken via injection and comes in a handy injection pen that patients can use at home, removing the need for healthcare workers to assist with the regular injections.


Saxenda uses Liraglutide as its active ingredient, which is a type of drug known as a GLP-1 Receptor Agonist.


These medications work by affecting the hormones responsible for your appetite, increasing the production of insulin and slowing the production of glucagon.


If you’re taking Victoza and this is all sounding very familiar to you then there’s a very good reason for this, so let’s take a little look at what Victoza is all about.



What is Victoza?


Victoza is a type 2 diabetes medication that uses the active ingredient, you guessed it, Liraglutide.


So yes, Victoza and Saxenda use the same active ingredient, but what makes Victoza an effective treatment for diabetes?


Well, remember how we mentioned that Liraglutide affects your hunger hormones, including insulin?


Victoza takes advantage of that too, using its effect on these hormones to help you manage your blood sugar levels.


When you have type 2 diabetes, it means that your pancreas isn’t making enough insulin or that the insulin you make isn’t working very well.


As insulin is responsible for controlling your blood sugar levels, this means that people with type 2 diabetes are at risk of very high blood sugar and the serious complications that can come with it.


Liraglutide helps to increase the production of insulin, helping your body to manage its blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of complications like nerve damage, heart attacks, and strokes.



Why are Saxenda and Victoza used for different reasons?

Now we know that Saxenda and Victoza use the same active ingredient, which works the same way no matter what you’re using it for — so why are they used for different things?


Well, a lot of it is down to medication licensing and safety.


Both Saxenda and Victoza are made by a pharmaceutical company called Novo Nordisk, which has had to go through rigorous development and testing processes to bring these medications to market.


When Novo Nordisk developed Liraglutide, it was originally intended to be a type 2 diabetes medication and was licensed for that purpose under the brand name Victoza.


As more patients started to use this medication, they discovered that they were losing weight due to the effect it had on their appetite, so Novo Nordisk did some more testing and decided to get it licensed for weight loss too.


This new license was under the brand name Saxenda and there we have it, two medications using the same ingredient for different purposes.



This whole licensing thing may seem a little arbitrary, but it’s a very important part of making sure that medication is used, developed, and marketed safely — without it, you could claim that a medication could do pretty much anything for anyone, even if it didn’t!


With Saxenda and Victoza, these licenses take things like the difference in maximum dosage and which patients would benefit from the drug into account.


For example, Saxenda can only be taken by patients who have a BMI of 30 or above (27 or above if you are at risk of weight-related medical problems), whereas Victoza can be taken by suitable type 2 diabetes patients no matter what their BMI is.


These restrictions help to make sure that Liraglutide is used safely and reduce the chances of the drug being abused by those who don’t need it.



What is the difference in dosage between Saxenda and Victoza?

Saxenda and Victoza are available in different doses, with Victoza generally being used in smaller doses than Saxenda.


You’ll need to gradually increase your dose of each medication over a number of weeks, a process which is known as titration and is used to reduce the potential side effects of Liraglutide.


With both treatments, you’ll usually start at a daily dose of 0.6mg for a week before increasing to 1.2mg the next week, and 1.8mg the week after that.


This is where Saxenda and Victoza are different.


While most patients will be able to continue taking Victoza at a dose of 1.2mg a day or 1.8mg a day, patients taking Saxenda will usually increase their daily dose, until reaching a maximum dose of 3mg a day.


Of course, each patient is different, so the dose you need every day may be different to that of other patients, but this will be determined by your prescriber as your treatment goes on.



Will I lose weight if I’m using Victoza for diabetes?

If you are taking Victoza for diabetes you may find that you end up losing weight, even if you weren’t intending to when you started this treatment.


This is because the appetite changes that make Liraglutide such an effective weight loss medication happen as much with Victoza as they would with Saxenda.


If you’re ever concerned about your weight we recommend speaking to your healthcare team, they will be able to assess your condition and make changes to your treatment plan, if necessary.



Can I use Victoza for weight loss if I don’t have diabetes?

If you don’t have type 2 diabetes you will not be able to take Victoza, but you may be able to take Saxenda, and could still use Liraglutide for weight loss that way.


I know, it seems confusing, but the medication licensing means that Victoza is strictly used for type 2 diabetes and Saxenda is strictly used for weight loss, even if they are essentially the same medication.


In Shakespearean terms, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and Liraglutide by any other brand name is still just as effective.



In conclusion, Liraglutide, Saxenda, and Victoza are all essentially the same thing but are used for different purposes.


As long as you use your medication safely and as recommended by your prescriber, you should be just fine.


If you still have questions, remember to speak to your healthcare team or take a look at some of the other guides we’ve written about this medication, there’s always something new to learn!

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