No matter your age, gender, or medical history, if you’re overweight or suffering from obesity, you know what a negative impact excess weight can have on your health and quality of life.
But weight loss isn’t straightforward; it’s a major journey. And if you, like many of the 42% of American adults who are currently suffering from obesity, are looking for a medical solution, you’re certainly not alone.
Recently, the name-brand drugs Ozempic and Wegovy (semaglutide) have received a lot of media attention for their weight loss potential. But you may have also heard of Saxenda (liraglutide). All three drugs are produced by Novo Nordisk and have marked similarities. They can all be effective for weight loss under the right circumstances. But ultimately, they’re different medications and are best suited for different patient profiles depending on a variety of factors.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the similarities and differences between Ozempic and Saxenda. We’ll consider which drug is more effective for weight loss (spoiler alert: The winner may not be as clear cut as you’d expect) and also who each drug may be best suited for.
As always, please bear in mind that the information in this article isn’t intended to replace advice from a trusted medical professional. Though we always strive to provide well-researched and balanced information, only your healthcare provider can help you to decide what prescription drugs will be appropriate for your own particular circumstances.
What Is Saxenda?
Saxenda is a name-brand drug that was approved by the FDA for weight loss in adults in 2014. It was the first medication in its class (GLP-1 receptor agonists) to be approved for weight loss. In 2020, its approval was expanded to include obese adolescents ages 12-17 with a body weight of more than 132 pounds.
Saxenda is an injectable medication that’s typically injected subcutaneously once per day. Its active ingredient is called liraglutide, and it mimics a naturally occurring hormone that helps control digestion, insulin levels, and blood sugar levels. Saxenda is indicated for use in overweight patients with a body mass index (BMI) above 27 alongside at least one other weight-related condition (high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, etc.) or in patients with a BMI above 30 (defined as obese) whether or not other weight-related conditions are present.
Saxenda does not work in isolation. For effective weight loss to occur, the drug must be complemented by healthy diet changes and a regular exercise routine. Saxenda is not indicated for the treatment of Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes.
A one-year study of 3,731 adult patients who were overweight or obese demonstrated that 85% of those treated with Saxenda and lifestyle changes lost some weight. 62.3% lost 5% or more of their original weight (considered clinically significant), while 33.9% lost more than 10% of their original weight, and 6% lost more than 20% of their initial weight. Weight loss results in adolescents were similar, with 43.3% of adolescents treated with Saxenda and lifestyle changes over the course of a year reducing their weight by more than 5% and 26.1% reducing their weight by more than 10%.
Saxenda’s active ingredient is liraglutide, a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that mimics an appetite hormone produced naturally by the body. Liraglutide regulates and reduces your appetite, making you less prone to over-eating and more able to shed excess weight effectively in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise.
Naturally occurring GLP-1 has a half-life of 2 minutes, while liraglutide has a half-life of about 13 hours. This is why Saxenda is injected once every 24 hours to maintain therapeutic levels of liraglutide in the body.
Saxenda’s starting dose is 0.6 mg, which is built up by 50% weekly until the target dose of 3 mg is reached.
Saxenda Side Effects
Common mild side effects of Saxenda include gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation, and vomiting. Other noted side effects can include injection site reactions, mild low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and changes in blood enzyme levels (lipase). In children, Saxenda can be associated with fever and gastroenteritis. Many of these side effects may spontaneously resolve over time as the body adjusts to Saxenda.
Possible serious side effects of Saxenda include inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), gallbladder problems, increased heart rate, severe low blood sugar (especially in patients with Type 2 Diabetes), kidney problems, depression and/or suicidal thoughts, and severe allergic reactions.
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the serious side effects listed above. For questions or concerns about mild side effects, contact your primary healthcare provider.
Saxenda Drug Interactions
Before you start taking Saxenda, your doctor will carefully review the medications you are currently on. This includes vitamins, supplements, over-the-counter medications, and natural herbs and remedies.
Some common drug interactions to avoid with Saxenda include certain types of antibiotics used for treating bacterial infections, Bexarotene (skin cancer treatment), Diabetes medications, diuretics, corticosteroids, topical steroids, and estrogen-containing drugs.
Warning & Precautions Regarding Saxenda
You should consult carefully with your healthcare provider before using Saxenda if:
- You’re allergic to any of the ingredients
- You’re currently using insulin albiglutide
- You have a personal or family history of Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2 or Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma
- You have diabetic ketoacidosis, kidney disease, liver disease, high cholesterol, heart problems, pancreas problems, gallbladder problems, or gastrointestinal problems
- You have a history of depression or suicidal thoughts
- You’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant
Potential Saxenda Alternatives
Below are some potential Saxenda Alternatives:
Metformin is a Type 2 Diabetes medication that’s taken orally. While not approved for weight loss, it’s often prescribed off-label for this purpose. If you aren’t a good candidate for an injectable GLP-1 medication like Saxenda or Ozempic, you may want to learn more about Metformin.
What Is Ozempic?
Ozempic (semaglutide) is a name-brand prescription drug that was FDA-approved for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes and the reduction of risks from major cardiovascular events in adults with Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease in 2017. While Ozempic is not approved as a weight loss drug, it’s often prescribed off-label for this purpose—along with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Like Saxenda, Ozempic belongs to the class of medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. Its active ingredient, semaglutide, mimics a natural gut hormone. Ozempic slows down the digestive process, stimulates insulin secretion, and communicates to the brain and a variety of body systems that digestion is underway.
Ozempic is injected subcutaneously once per week. It comes in prefilled, single-patient-use pens at a dosage of 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg. Typically, patients begin at the lowest dosage and build up to a higher therapeutic dosage over a series of weeks as their body adjusts to the medication. Although Ozempic isn’t approved as a weight loss medication, its counterpart, Wegovy, is (since June of 2021). Like Saxenda and Ozempic, Wegovy is manufactured by Novo Nordisk. It’s almost identical to Ozempic, except that it comes in a higher 2.4 mg dose.
In a 68-week clinical trial where a once-weekly 2.4 mg dose of semaglutide was given, 86.4% of 1,961 overweight or obese adults reported a reduction of 5% or more of their starting body weight. 69.1% reported a loss greater than 10% of their initial body weight, and 50.5% reported a loss greater than 15% of their starting body weight.
See also: Bydureon vs Ozempic
The active ingredient in Ozempic (and Wegovy) is semaglutide. Semaglutide mimics an incretin hormone found in the human gut and stimulates the pancreatic release of insulin. Ozempic slows down gastric emptying (the rate at which food is emptied from the stomach into the small intestine) and the rate of digestion as a whole. It also communicates feelings of satiety or fullness to the brain, endocrine system, and other body systems.
Ozempic Side Effects
Common mild side effects of Ozempic include gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, constipation, and stomach pain. Other noted side effects may include headaches, dizziness, and mild hypoglycemia.
Serious Ozempic (semaglutide) side effects can include thyroid issues (including the possible development of thyroid tumors), kidney problems, pancreatitis, vision problems, severe low blood sugar, and severe allergic reactions.
Inform your healthcare provider immediately of any serious reactions and contact them with any questions or concerns about Ozempic side effects.
Ozempic Drug Interactions
Before you start taking Ozempic, your doctor will carefully review the medications you’re currently on. This includes vitamins, supplements, over-the-counter medications, and natural herbs and remedies.
Some common drug interactions to avoid with Ozempic include certain types of antibiotics used for treating bacterial infections, Bexarotene (skin cancer treatment), Diabetes medications, diuretics, corticosteroids, topical steroids, antidepressants, Beta-2 stimulants (for asthma), Disopyramide (heart rhythm problems), Fenofibrate (lowers blood triglyceride levels), and estrogen-containing drugs.
Warnings & Precautions Regarding Ozempic
You should consult carefully with your healthcare provider before using Ozempic if:
- You’re allergic to any of the ingredients
- You have Type 1 Diabetes
- You have a personal or family history of Endocrine Neoplasia Syndrome Type 2 or Medullary Thyroid Cancer
- You have diabetic ketoacidosis
- You’re under 18 years old
- You have or have had pancreatitis, kidney disease, diabetic retinopathy, or gallbladder issues
- You’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant
Both Ozempic (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide) can be effective for weight loss when complemented with healthy lifestyle changes (diet and exercise). Saxenda is FDA-approved for weight loss, while Ozempic is not. But Wegovy, which is essentially a 2.4 mg dose of Ozempic, is approved for weight loss and has demonstrated clinical trial results that are even more favorable than Saxenda’s.
Saxenda is approved for use in adolescents (ages 12-17), while Ozempic is only approved for adult patients. It must be injected daily, while Ozempic is administered via a once-weekly injection.
If you live in the U.S. and are looking to source high-quality Ozempic (semaglutide) at an affordable price, Bisonpharmacy.com can help. Contact us directly to speak with a representative or with any questions about ordering Ozempic from outside the U.S.
Weight loss is a major journey and being able to access prescription medications at a fraction of the cost you’d pay in the U.S. can help remove a major barrier to shedding pounds and improving your overall health. Contact Bisonpharmacy.com today!