While a healthy diet and regular exercise are key to any weight loss regimen, sometimes they’re just not enough. More than 70% of Americans over 20 years old are currently overweight or obese, and chronic weight management solutions are in high demand. If healthy lifestyle changes alone aren’t getting you to your target weight, perhaps it’s time to consider talking to a healthcare professional. Depending on your medical history and circumstances, your doctor may feel that a prescription weight loss drug could be a good fit.

If you’ve been researching prescription weight loss drugs, chances are that you’ve come across Saxenda. Saxenda remains one of the top-selling obesity treatments in the U.S. and has helped millions of Americans manage their weight and weight-related conditions since it was approved by the FDA in 2014. That being said, Saxenda won’t be the right fit for every patient.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at Saxenda as well as some alternative weight loss drugs you may wish to discuss with your healthcare provider. Keep in mind that your doctor is the only person who can provide medical advice tailored to your specific situation. The content below is for informational purposes only.

What Is Saxenda?

Saxenda (liraglutide) is a name-brand prescription drug that was the first GLP-1 receptor agonist to be FDA-approved for weight loss and chronic weight management. It is manufactured by Novo Nordisk. There is currently no generic form of Saxenda available.

Saxenda Usage

Meant to be used as an adjunct to regular exercise and a reduced calorie diet, Saxenda doesn’t work in isolation. Simply injecting the medication is neither a recommended nor effective solution for weight loss.

Saxenda is indicated for use in adults who suffer from obesity (body mass index over 30) or who are overweight (body mass index over 27) and have at least one weight-related condition, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, or high cholesterol. In 2020, it was also approved for weight loss in teens with a body weight greater than 132 pounds.

Saxenda is an injectable medicine that’s typically taken once per day. It’s injected subcutaneously and can be taken at any time of day with or without food.

How Saxenda Works

Saxenda belongs to the class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. By mimicking a naturally occurring gut hormone, it effectively reduces appetite and increases the sensation of being full—which leads to eating less. It also slows down digestion, helps to lower blood sugar levels, and stimulates the natural production of insulin in the pancreas.

In a study of more than 3,700 overweight or obese adults, 62% of patients treated with Saxenda and lifestyle changes lost a clinically significant amount of weight (more than 5% of their starting body weight) over a period of one year. Results from a trial with adolescent patients were similarly compelling.

Saxenda Dosage

Saxenda is usually taken over the long term in a 3 mg dosage, which is built up over a period of weeks. Common escalation doses include 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg, 1.8 mg, and 2.4 mg.

When GLP-1 occurs naturally in the body, it has a half-life of about 2 minutes. In contrast, liraglutide has a half-life of about 13 hours, which is why it’s injected once every 24 hours.

Saxenda Side Effects and Warnings

Like any prescription medication, Saxenda may cause side effects. Most side effects are mild and often resolve over time. They can include:

  • Gastrointestinal issues—nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation, vomiting
  • Injection site reactions
  • Mild low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in blood enzyme levels (lipase)
  • Fever and gastroenteritis (in children)

More serious side effects of Saxenda can include the following, which should always be assessed by a medical professional:

  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Increased heart rate
  • Severe low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Depression and/or suicidal thoughts

Saxenda comes with an FDA black-box warning for the potential risk of thyroid cancer. In rodent trials, it has been associated with the development of thyroid tumors. Saxenda shouldn’t be taken by anyone with a personal or family history of thyroid cancer. It also should not be taken by patients who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to become pregnant.

Top Alternatives to Saxenda for Weight Loss

Saxenda was the first GLP-1 receptor agonist to be FDA-approved for weight loss in 2014, but several more drugs in the same class have emerged and been FDA-approved over the past decade (though not all for weight loss purposes). Below are three of the most common Saxenda alternatives prescribed by doctors across the U.S.

1. Ozempic (semaglutide)

Ozempic is a Type 2 Diabetes treatment that helps lower blood sugar levels in adult patients as well as reduce the risks of major adverse cardiovascular events. It’s sometimes prescribed off-label for weight loss.

2. Wegovy (semaglutide)

Wegovy has the same active ingredient as Ozempic (semaglutide) but at a higher dosage. It was FDA-approved for weight loss in 2021.

3. Trulicity (dulaglutide)

Like Ozempic, Trulicity is approved for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes in adults as well as related cardiovascular disease. It’s also indicated for adults who have multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease and is sometimes prescribed off-label for weight loss purposes.

Saxenda Natural Alternatives

Many Americans are interested in augmenting their weight loss efforts with natural alternatives to prescription drugs. Here are a few popular options:

  • PhenQ – a natural weight loss supplement manufactured and distributed by Wolfson Brands.
  • Zotrim – a plant-based weight loss supplement.
  • Many people turn to herbal solutions such as ginseng, fenugreek, ginger, and cayenne pepper to promote natural weight loss.

If you’re considering taking natural weight reduction supplements, it’s vital to remember that just because a product is marketed as natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy or effective.

Before starting any new supplement, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider. This will ensure that you receive a medically backed opinion on the potential risks and rewards. In addition, natural products can interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications, so it’s important to disclose them all to your doctor. The relationship between natural supplements and weight loss is inconclusive.

The best non-prescription solutions for weight loss are the intake of healthy, reduced calorie food and regular daily exercise, as recommended by your doctor.

Ozempic Vs. Saxenda

Ozempic has gained a reputation as a popular Saxenda alternative for weight loss. Why? Because, when taken at a once weekly 2.4 mg dosage, Ozempic’s active ingredient (semaglutide) has been shown to be more effective for weight loss than Saxenda’s (liraglutide) taken at its standard 3 mg daily dosage. In combination with counseling for diet and physical activity, patients taking semaglutide in a 68-week clinical trial had a mean body weight reduction of 15.8%, while those taking liraglutide had a mean body weight reduction of 6.4%.

Important to note is that Ozempic is not approved for weight loss, nor does it come in a 2.4 mg dosage. However, Wegovy (semaglutide)—which is otherwise identical to Ozempic—is dosed at 2.4 mg and is FDA-approved for weight loss.

For more in-depth information, read Bisonpharmacy.com’s comparison of Saxenda and Ozempic for weight reduction.

Taking Ozempic As a Non-Diabetic

Ozempic is indicated for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes in adults. It also helps decrease the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in patients with Type 2 Diabetes and diagnosed cardiovascular disease.

Ozempic is not indicated for chronic weight management, though it has been shown to promote healthy weight loss in patients with Type 2 Diabetes. If you don’t have Type 2 Diabetes but your doctor still feels that Ozempic may be an appropriate solution for helping you to lose weight, they may choose to write you an off-label prescription for the drug.

For more information about taking Ozempic for weight loss as a non-diabetic, read our dedicated post here.

Ozempic Side Effects

Ozempic does come with the risk of side effects, many of which are mild and may resolve naturally over time as your body adjusts to higher dosages of the drug. Common mild side effects can include:

  • Gastrointestinal issues—nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea
  • Injection site reactions
  • Mild low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

More serious side effects of Ozempic should be assessed by a medical professional as soon as possible. They can include:

  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallbladder issues
  • Kidney issues
  • Vision problems
  • Severe low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Thyroid issues (including the development of thyroid tumors)

Ozempic comes with a black-box warning for the development of thyroid c-cell tumors. It shouldn’t be taken by anyone with a personal or family history of thyroid cancer. Ozempic is also not approved for individuals who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to become pregnant.

Ozempic Drug Interactions

Before prescribing Ozempic for you, your doctor will thoroughly consider its potential interaction with any other prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, or natural supplements you may be taking.

Taking Ozempic in combination with insulin or certain other Diabetes medications is not uncommon, but it can result in dangerously low blood sugar levels if not properly managed. This is something your doctor will adjust and monitor carefully, if necessary.

Other potential drug interactions to avoid while on Ozempic can include Bexarotene, diuretics, corticosteroids, topical steroids, antidepressants, Beta-2 stimulants, Disopyramide, Fenofibrate, estrogen-containing drugs, and more. Your doctor will be your best resource in deciding how to manage other medications.

Reducing your intake of certain foods as well as your alcohol consumption while on Ozempic may also be recommended.

Finding Ozempic at an Affordable Price

To conclude, Saxenda is a popular weight loss drug, but it has several alternatives—including Ozempic and Wegovy. All three drugs come with high price tags, and Ozempic, in particular, can be very pricey (more than $1,000 per month) if prescribed off-label and not covered by insurance.

If you’re looking for a more affordable solution, ordering high-quality Ozempic from Canada may be a viable option. It may save you up to two-thirds the price you’d pay at your local pharmacy. Join the millions of Americans who source prescription medications from outside the U.S.!

Bisonpharmacy.com is a reputable prescription referral service that offers over-the-phone pharmacist consultations. We safely and responsibly ship a wide range of prescription drugs, including Ozempic, to the U.S. every day. Plus, all of our customers are provided Price Protection and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. For more information or to make your order today, contact us directly at Bisonpharmacy.com!

About the Author

Ida Edlweiss Gumpal is a licensed Pharmacist and medical writer. She took her internships at Mercury Drug Corporation, Inc., a Hospital internship at De Vera Medical Center, Inc., and a Manufacturing internship at Philmed Laboratories, Inc. She has plans on attending medical school with the goal of specializing in Neurosurgery or Cardiothoracic surgery.