Written on January 24, 2024 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Victoza® and Ozempic® are prescription medications that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.[1,2] Both drugs work similarly to decrease blood sugar levels. They can also lower the risk of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack and stroke. Continue reading to learn more about the similarities and differences between Victoza® and Ozempic®.
Here are some important ways that Victoza® and Ozempic® are similar.
Victoza® and Ozempic® are brand-name medications that are administered as subcutaneous injections.[1,2] Both belong to a class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide 1 agonists or GLP-1 agonists. They work to lower blood sugar levels by triggering insulin release into the bloodstream after eating and signaling the liver to stop making extra sugar. These medications also slow down the rate at which your stomach empties food, thus making you feel full longer.
Both medications are FDA-approved with diet and exercise to improve sugar levels in type 2 diabetic patients.[1,2] But, are Victoza® and Ozempic® approved for weight loss? No, neither Victoza® nor Ozempic® is approved for weight management.
In some circumstances, healthcare providers may prescribe Victoza® or Ozempic® off-label for weight loss. Although Victoza® and Ozempic® are not currently approved for weight loss, the active ingredients are in other brand-name medications that are approved for chronic weight management.[3-5] For example, liraglutide is the active ingredient for Saxenda®, which is the same active drug in Victoza®; Saxenda® is approved for chronic weight management in certain patients.
The potential side effects, warnings, and precautions are similar between Victoza® and Ozempic®.[1,2] Both have a black box warning (which is the most severe safety warning by the FDA) for thyroid C-cell tumors. The GLP-1 agonist class of drugs has been found to cause these types of tumors in animals, though the risk in humans is unknown. It is recommended to avoid using GLP-1 agonists if you have a family history of thyroid cancer.
Other severe warnings and precautions associated with these medications include inflammation of the pancreas, gallbladder disease, extremely low blood sugar levels, acute kidney injury, severe allergic reaction, and increased heart rate.[1,2] The common adverse reactions in both medications are gastrointestinal-related and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Notifying your healthcare provider if any of the listed symptoms are severe is recommended.
Here are some important ways that Victoza® and Ozempic® are different.
Victoza® and Ozempic® have different active ingredients.[1,2] As mentioned previously, the active ingredient for Victoza® is liraglutide. Liraglutide is also the active ingredient for another brand-name medication, Saxenda®. The active ingredient for Ozempic® is semaglutide. Rybelsus® and Wegovy® are two brand-name medications that also have semaglutide as the active ingredient.[4,5]
Victoza® and Ozempic® have different doses and dosing intervals.[1,2] The recommended starting dosage of Victoza® is 0.6 mg, with a dosing interval of once a day.. The initial Ozempic® dosage is 0.25 mg, and the dosing interval is once a week. Therefore, Victoza® is injected more frequently when compared to Ozempic®.[1,2] The maximum recommended dose of Victoza® is 1.8 mg injected once daily, and Ozempic® has a max dose of 2 mg once weekly.
A study of 577 type 2 diabetic adult patients directly compared the active ingredients in Ozempic® (semaglutide) to Victoza® (liraglutide) over a span of 30 weeks. Semaglutide was given at a dose of 1 mg once a week, and liraglutide was given at a dose of 1.2 mg once a day. The average hemoglobin A1C level decreased by 1.7% with semaglutide and 1% with liraglutide. The average body weight was reduced by 5.8 kg with semaglutide and 1.9 kg with liraglutide. It’s important to keep in mind that Ozempic® and Victoza® are available at higher max doses than what was included in the study.
Currently, Victoza® is approved in adults and pediatric patients aged 10 years and older. Ozempic® is only approved in adults at this time. Victoza® is only available in a 6 mg/mL strength solution for subcutaneous administration in a pre-filled pen, while Ozempic® has three strengths: 2 mg/3 mL, 4 mg/3 mL, and 8 mg/3 mL.[1,2] Additionally, Ozempic® is not presently available in a combination drug, whereas Victoza® is available in a combination drug called Xultophy®.
If you have questions about your type 2 diabetes or whether Victoza® or Ozempic® is appropriate for you, schedule a virtual visit with Everlywell through Virtual Care Visits. If you would like to discuss losing weight, you can schedule a virtual consultation through the Weight Care+ program and see if a GLP-1 prescription with regular care is an option for you.
You will be able to speak with a licensed clinician to address your health needs with high-quality care, prescriptions, and recommendations. The clinician can also create a care plan for you that may include testing.
Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA received her Doctor of Pharmacy and Master of Business Administration degrees from Wingate University School of Pharmacy. She is a skilled medical information professional with nearly 10 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, pharmacy education (including as an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin), and clinical practice. She has also been a medical writer and editor for consumer health and medical content. Sendra is passionate about translating complex medical concepts into simple and easy-to-understand information.