A growing number of people are turning to commonly prescribed medications for managing diabetes and obesity. Among these options are Ozempic and Saxenda, which serve distinct purposes yet share notable similarities.

In 2022, Ozempic accounted for more than 65% of total prescriptions in the US. On the other hand, prescriptions for Saxenda surged by nearly 30,000 between May and June 2023, marking the largest monthly increase in the past two years.

To assist individuals in gaining insights into each weight loss drug, this article aims to simplify their search by comparing these two widely used medications.

Key Differences Between Ozempic and Saxenda

ParametersOzempicSaxenda
Cost$935.77 per month$1,349.02 per month
Active ingredientSemaglutideLiraglutide
Approved indicationsAdults with type 2 diabetes, including those with known heart conditions.Adults with obesity or overweight with weight-related conditions, and for obese adolescents aged 12-17.
Ease of useWeekly injectionDaily injection
EffectivenessAfter 68 weeks, patients on a 1.0 mg dose lost 7% of their weight.Patients achieved5% and 10% weight loss targets at 52 weeks.
Side effectsNausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation occurred in at least 5% of patients.Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypoglycemia, gastroenteritis, and more were reported by over 3% of patients.
Dosage and administrationBegins with a daily dosage of 0.6 mg, gradually raised to 3 mg per day within a span of 5 weeks.Begins with a 0.25 mg weekly injection, which may increase to 0.5 mg weekly, with a maximum of 2 mg weekly.
Onset of actionWeight loss typically occurs within the first 4 to 5 months.Weight loss may become noticeable in adults after 2 months.

Efficacy in Weight Loss

This section examines the efficacy of Ozempic and Saxenda in promoting weight loss, highlighting key findings from recent studies and clinical trials.

Ozempic

Ozempic hasn’t been studied specifically for weight loss, as it’s primarily used to manage type 2 diabetes. Weight loss is an observed side effect during treatment. However, studies have looked into semaglutide for weight loss.

Here are some studies on semaglutide’s effectiveness in weight loss with dosages similar to those of Ozempic:

  • In a cohort study, semaglutide’s efficacy at 1.7 mg or 2.4 mg weekly for weight loss in overweight or obese individuals were assessed. The study, conducted at a weight management center, included 408 adult patients with a BMI of 27 or higher, receiving semaglutide injections for at least three months. Patients with certain medical histories were excluded. Results showed significant weight loss after 3 and 6 months, with mean reductions of 5.9% and 10.9% respectively. Over 87% of patients achieved at least 5% weight loss after six months. However, those with type 2 diabetes had slightly lower weight loss.
  • In a randomized control trial, diabetic patients were given either 2.4 mg or 1.0 mg of semaglutide weekly or a placebo. After 68 weeks, those on 2.4 mg lost 10% of their weight, while those on 1.0 mg lost 7%, and those on placebo lost 3%. Furthermore, 69% of the 2.4 mg group, 57% of the 1.0 mg group, and 29% of the placebo group lost at least 5% of their body weight.

Saxenda

Saxenda (liraglutide) has shown to be effective in promoting weight loss. Here are studies that demonstrated its efficacy:

  • The first major phase 3 trial of liraglutide involved participants with a BMI between 30 kg/m2 and 40 kg/m2 in Europe. It compared various liraglutide doses (ranging from 1.2 mg to 3.0 mg) with a placebo and orlistat. The trial spanned 20 weeks and included screening, placebo run-in, dose titration, and constant dose periods, with ongoing lifestyle interventions. Liraglutide in all doses resulted in significantly greater weight loss compared to placebo (2.8 kg), with reductions ranging from 4.8 kg to 7.2 kg. Moreover, participants on 2.4 mg and 3.0 mg of liraglutide had notably higher weight loss than those on orlistat (4.1 kg), with reductions of 6.3 kg and 7.2 kg.
  • A 2023 study investigated liraglutide 3.0 mg (Saxenda) therapy’s effectiveness in inducing weight loss among obese patients awaiting bariatric surgery. Retrospective clinical data from patients with prediabetes and those on the bariatric surgery waiting list were collected. Results from 50 patients completing at least 26 weeks of treatment demonstrated that the average weight loss was 10.9 kg at 26 weeks and 14 kg at 52 weeks, with significant proportions achieving 5% and 10% weight loss targets. Additionally, most patients achieved prediabetes remission by 6 and 12 months.

Side Effects

Ozempic and Saxenda come with potential side effects that people should consider before using them for weight management or diabetes control.

Ozempic

Common adverse reactions associated with the use of Ozempic include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation

These adverse reactions occurred in at least 5% of patients treated with Ozempic in placebo-controlled trials. Other side effects include:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Injection site reactions
  • Increases in amylase and lipase
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fatigue, dysgeusia, and dizziness
  • Other gastrointestinal adverse reactions (dyspepsia, eructation, flatulence, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and gastritis)

Ozempic may also have potential risks or safety concerns that users need to be aware of, such as:

  • Pancreatitis: In one study, 7 out of 100 Ozempic-treated patients had acute pancreatitis, compared to 3 out of 100 on another treatment. If patients develop symptoms like severe and lasting abdominal pain, Ozempic treatment should be stopped right away. If confirmed, Ozempic should not be resumed.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: In a 2-year trial of high-risk type 2 diabetes patients, Ozempic led to more diabetic retinopathy complications (3.0%) compared to placebo (1.8%). Risk elevation was greater in patients with pre-existing diabetic retinopathy (Ozempic 8.2%, placebo 5.2%) than those without (Ozempic 0.7%, placebo 0.4%).
  • Acute Kidney Injury: Postmarket data show kidney issues in GLP-1 receptor agonist users, sometimes requiring hemodialysis. Some cases occurred in patients without previous renal problems, often associated with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration.
  • Risk of Thyroid C-Cell Tumors: Semaglutide induced thyroid C-cell tumors in rodents in a dose-dependent manner. However, it’s unclear if Ozempic has a similar effect on humans, as this link hasn’t been confirmed.
  • Hypersensitivity: Serious allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis and angioedema, has been documented in association with the use of GLP-1 receptor agonists.

Saxenda

The most common reactions, reported by over 3% of patients receiving Saxenda and occurring more frequently than in those receiving a placebo, include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Dizziness
  • Pyrexia
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Constipation
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Depression
  • Dyspepsia
  • Pain in extremity
  • Injection site pain
  • Flatulence
  • Increased blood creatine kinase
  • Increased lipase
  • Rash

Additionally, serious adverse reactions to Saxenda use are described below.

  • Breast cancer
  • Papillary thyroid cancer
  • Colorectal neoplasms
  • Cardiac conduction disorders
  • Hypotension
  • Laboratory abnormalities (high levels of liver enzymes, serum calcitonin, and serum lipase and amylase)
  • Angioedema and anaphylactic reactions
  • Risk of thyroid C-Cell tumors
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Acute gallbladder disease
  • Increased heart rate
  • Renal impairment
  • Suicidal behavior and ideation

Active Ingredient and Mechanism of Action

Saxenda contains liraglutide, whereas Ozempic contains semaglutide. Both belong to the same class of medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. Despite having different active ingredients, they both work similarly.

GLP-1 receptor agonists mimic the functions of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which naturally occurs in our bodies when we eat.

When GLP-1 binds to its receptors on pancreatic cells, it prompts insulin release, lowering blood sugar levels. Additionally, GLP-1 receptors in the liver decrease glucose production, further aiding in blood sugar control.

GLP-1 receptors are also found in the gastrointestinal tract. They slow stomach emptying and decrease appetite, helping regulate food intake and promoting a feeling of fullness after meals.

By mimicking GLP-1’s actions, Ozempic and Saxenda effectively regulate blood sugar, control appetite, and induce a sense of fullness, leading to various side effects, including weight loss.

Did you know

Semaglutide is 94% similar to human GLP-1, while liraglutide is 97% similar to human GLP-1(7-37).

GLP-1(7-37) refers to a specific form of GLP-1 hormone. This segment is biologically active and is crucial in regulating glucose metabolism, insulin secretion, and other physiological processes related to glucose homeostasis.

Approved Indications

Ozempic and Saxenda were developed for specific purposes during clinical trials. This resulted in their distinct approved uses.

Ozempic

In December 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ozempic as an addition to diet and exercise to support adults with type 2 diabetes in managing their blood sugar levels.

The approval was based on findings from a series of Phase 3a clinical trials involving over 8,000 adults with type 2 diabetes. These trials showed that Ozempic significantly reduced A1c levels (average blood sugar levels over 2-3 months) compared to a placebo, as well as to sitagliptin and exenatide extended-release, which are other medications used to treat diabetes.

Subsequently, in 2020, the FDA approved a new use for Ozempic, reducing the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) in adults with type 2 diabetes and known heart conditions.

The approval is based on results from the SUSTAIN 6 trial, where Ozempic significantly reduced the risk of MACE by 26% compared to placebo over a 2-year period.

Saxenda

In December 2014, the FDA gave its approval for Saxenda as a treatment option for managing chronic weight issues. It’s recommended for the following individuals:

  • Adults whose body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher (obese).
  • Adults with a BMI of 27 or above (classified as overweight) who suffer from at least one weight-related issue such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or elevated cholesterol levels.

Additionally, in December 2020, the FDA expanded its approval for Saxenda to include its use in treating obesity in adolescents aged 12-17 who weigh over 60 kg and have a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher.

Dosage and Administration

Ozempic and Saxenda differ in dosage forms, administration methods, and recommended doses. Patients should seek specific guidance from their healthcare provider for each medication.

Ozempic

Patients typically start with a 0.25 mg injection once weekly for four weeks to begin treatment, followed by an increase to 0.5 mg once weekly.

If further regulation of blood sugar is necessary following a minimum of four weeks on the 0.5 mg dosage, the dose may be increased to 1 mg administered once weekly. The maximum recommended weekly dose is 2 mg.

Ideally, Ozempic should be injected weekly on the same day, at any time, with or without meals. The injection day can be changed, but there should be at least a 2-day gap between doses.

If a dose is missed, administer it within five days. Otherwise, refrain from administering it and proceed with the regular once-weekly dosing schedule with the next scheduled dose.

Saxenda

The initial dose of Saxenda is 0.6 mg, administered once daily for one week. The doctor will then increase the dosage each week.

The suggested maintenance dosage for Saxenda is 3 mg, administered once daily. However, it may be lowered to 2.4 mg for pediatric patients. If patients struggle with the increased dosage, dose escalation may be delayed.

Comparing the dosing schedule of Ozempic and Saxenda:

MedicationStarting DoseTitration DoseMaximum Dose
Month 1Month 2Month 3Month 4Month 5+
Ozempic0.25 mg once weekly0.25 mg per week0.5 mg per week0.5-1.0 mg per week1.0-2.0 mg per week1.0-2.0 mg per week2.0 mg once weekly
Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5+
Saxenda0.6 mg once daily0.6 mg per day1.2 mg per day1.8 mg per day2.4 mg per day3.0 mg per day3.0 mg once daily

Cost

Both drugs are manufactured by Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company. In the US, Ozempic costs $935.77 per month, while Saxenda has a list price of $1,349.02.

Getting Ozempic or Saxenda without insurance can present challenges due to their high costs. In response, many individuals in the US have sought more affordable options, often turning to Canadian pharmacies like Pharma Giant.

At Pharma Giant, significant savings of up to 90% on prescription medications such as Ozempic and Saxenda are available. Moreover, customers can benefit from additional discounts and offers, particularly when ordering larger quantities.

For newcomers, the coupon code FIRST10 offers 10% off their first order. To ensure convenience, Pharma Giant promises expedited delivery, with medications typically arriving within 3-5 business days. Importantly, strict measures are taken to package temperature-sensitive medications securely.

To illustrate, here’s a comparison of the prices of common weight loss drugs available on Pharma Giant with those found in online pharmacies in the US:

Brand NamePharma GiantWalgreensCVS PharmacyRite Aid
Ozempic$469.79$1,141$1,131$1,250
Saxenda$515$1,640$1,590$1,738
Mounjaro$158.99$1,284$1,261$1,044
Victoza$250$969$656$737
Trulicity$282$1,106$1,167$1,263

Onset of Action

Factors unique to each individual, such as physical activity, diet, and overall health, can influence how quickly Saxenda or Ozempic begins to take effect.

Ozempic

Ozempic takes 4 to 5 weeks to reach a steady level in the system. Some individuals may notice improvements within the first four weeks, with full effects becoming noticeable after at least eight weeks of treatment. Weight loss typically occurs within the first 4 to 5 months.

Saxenda

Significant weight loss, at least 5%, may become noticeable in adults around eight weeks after starting treatment. While some individuals may start experiencing weight loss within 2 to 4 weeks.

The efficacy of Saxenda is evaluated by assessing changes in body weight after 16 weeks. Discontinuation is advised if patients haven’t lost at least 4% of their baseline weight. Blood glucose monitoring is recommended for adult patients with type 2 diabetes.

In pediatric patients, it is determined by BMI changes after 12 weeks. Discontinuation is advised if there’s no reduction of at least 1% from baseline.

Wrap-Up

Ozempic and Saxenda, both medications developed by Novo Nordisk, differ in their intended purposes and active ingredients.

Ozempic primarily manages type 2 diabetes, typically administered weekly via subcutaneous injection. In contrast, Saxenda targets weight management and requires daily subcutaneous injections.

Despite sharing GLP-1 receptor agonist classification, Saxenda contains liraglutide as its active ingredient, whereas Ozempic contains semaglutide.

Both medications can have different side effects and efficacy. Their use should be discussed thoroughly with a healthcare professional to identify the most appropriate option according to individual health conditions and needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to switch from Ozempic to Saxenda or vice versa?

If your healthcare provider deems it appropriate to switch from Ozempic to Saxenda (or vice versa), they will collaborate with you to determine the suitable dosage. For instance, they might suggest initiating the new medication at a lower dose and gradually adjusting as needed.

Are there any weight loss reviews on Ozempic and Saxenda?

On Drugs.com, Ozempic has an average score of 6.3 out of 10 based on 1195 ratings, with 50% of reviewers reporting positive effects and 28% reporting negative effects. Saxenda, on the other hand, holds an average rating of 7.5 out of 10 from 1445 ratings, with 67% reporting positive effects and 15% reporting negative effects.

Can Ozempic and Saxenda be used together?

No, Saxenda and Ozempic cannot be used together as they are both injectable GLP-1 receptor agonists. Combining them may pose risks, particularly regarding blood sugar levels.

Which should you choose, Ozempic or Saxenda?

The decision between Ozempic and Saxenda depends on your medical condition and the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have type 2 diabetes and need to control your blood sugar levels, Ozempic would likely be the appropriate choice. If weight management is your primary concern and you’re looking for a medication to assist with weight loss, then Saxenda may be the better option.

Is Ozempic better than Saxenda?

Although there are no direct comparisons between Ozempic and Saxenda, there is valuable information from trials that compare their active ingredients. In one such trial, semaglutide appears more effective for weight loss than liraglutide. In the SCALE trial, semaglutide resulted in a weight loss of 12.4% compared to a weight loss of 5.4% with liraglutide in the STEP 1 trial. Additionally, the cost needed to achieve a 1% reduction in body weight was lower with semaglutide ($1,845) compared to liraglutide ($3,256).

Can Saxenda or Ozempic interact with other medications?

Yes, both Saxenda and Ozempic can interact with other medications. According to Drugs.com, Ozempic has a total of 251 drug interactions, 248 interactions are considered moderate, while one interaction is classified as minor. These drugs include losartan, aspirin, and metformin. On the other hand, Saxenda has a total of 256 drug interactions, 248 interactions are considered moderate, while six interactions are classified as minor. These drugs include phentermine, prednisone, and levothyroxine.

Which is safer, Ozempic or Saxenda?

Clinical trials have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of both Ozempic and Saxenda. However, the safety of a medication can vary depending on an individual’s medical history, including factors such as pre-existing conditions, allergies, and concurrent medications.

What weight loss drug is more effective than Ozempic?

According to a large analysis of real-world data by Truveta Research, patients taking Mounjaro were significantly more likely to lose 5%, 10%, and 15% of their body weight overall. Moreover, they experienced larger reductions in body weight after three months, six months, and a year compared to those using Ozempic. However, the study mentioned still needs to be peer-reviewed, and the findings should be interpreted with caution until further validation is conducted.

Can you drink alcohol while taking Saxenda or Ozempic?

Ozempic or Saxenda’s direct interaction with alcohol is minimal. Nevertheless, your physician might recommend abstaining from or reducing alcohol intake while undergoing treatment. This is due to the potential aggravation of certain side effects associated with Saxenda or Ozempic when combined with alcohol consumption. Consulting with a healthcare professional for personalized advice is recommended.

How long do people stay on Saxenda or Ozempic?

The duration for which you can stay on Ozempic or Saxenda depends on your health condition, treatment goals, and the guidance of your healthcare provider. Both medications are generally intended for long-term use, especially when used to manage chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes or obesity.

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