According to Statista, there is a significant rise in global obesity and overweight rates, from 2.2 billion individuals in 2020 to over 3.3 billion by 2035. Notably, the US stands as one of the most obese nations worldwide, with more than 36% of its adult population classified as obese.

As worries about obesity increase, many are searching for ways to lose weight. Saxenda and Wegovy injection pens are two popular choices, both offering potential solutions. But which one works better?

This article will break down the differences between Saxenda and Wegovy, helping readers make informed choices about their weight loss journey. Whether you’re considering Saxenda or Wegovy, we offer a complete guide to help you pick the right option.

Key Differences Between Saxenda and Wegovy

ParametersSaxendaWegovy
Cost (manufacturer’s suggested retail price)Around  $1,600Around $1,350
Active ingredientLiraglutideSemaglutide
Approved indications
  • Chronic weight management in individuals aged 12 and older with obesity or overweight with weight-related conditions.
  • Chronic weight management in individuals aged 12 and older with obesity or overweight with weight-related conditions.
  • Reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events (MACE), such as death, heart attack, or stroke, in adults with known heart disease who are also obese or overweight.
Ease of useDaily injectionWeekly injection
EffectivenessPatients achieved a mean weight reduction of 6.4% from baseline after 68 weeks.Patients achieved a mean weight reduction of 15.8% from baseline after 68 weeks.
Side effectsNausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, injection site reactions, and headache.Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, and headache.
Dosage and administrationBegins with a daily dosage of 0.6 mg, gradually raised to 3 mg within a span of 5 weeks.Begins with a weekly dosage of 0.25 mg, gradually raised to 2.4 mg within 5 months.
Weight loss onsetWeight loss may become noticeable after 2 weeks of use.Weight loss may become noticeable after 4 weeks of use.

Which Is Better for Weight Loss?

According to recent studies, Wegovy (semaglutide) outperforms Saxenda (liraglutide) in promoting weight loss when used alongside a calorie-restricted diet and regular physical activity.

A 2022 study compared the weight loss efficacy of once-weekly semaglutide (2.4 mg) versus once-daily liraglutide (3.0 mg), both combined with diet and physical activity. The study involved 338 adults with a BMI of 30 or higher, or 27 or higher, with at least one weight-related health issue, all without diabetes. This was conducted over 68 weeks at 19 sites in the US.

The primary endpoint was the percentage change in body weight from baseline to week 68, while secondary endpoints included the proportion of participants achieving weight loss of 10%, 15%, and 20%.

The semaglutide group experienced a mean weight reduction of 15.8%, the liraglutide group 6.4%, and the placebo group 1.9%. Moreover, participants on semaglutide had significantly higher odds of achieving at least 10%, 15%, and 20% weight loss than those on liraglutide.

Aside from this study, individual studies on each drug showed similar outcomes.

Saxenda for Weight Loss

Five large-scale phase III trials have evaluated liraglutide as a weight management agent. Among these, four were part of the Satiety and Clinical Adiposity-Liraglutide Evidence (SCALE) program, examining both non-diabetic and diabetic populations.

Here’s what they found:

StudyTrial population and durationResults
Average weight loss from their baselinePercentage of participants achieving ? 5% weight loss
SaxendaPlaceboSaxendaPlacebo
SCALE Maintenance (2013)This 56-week trial evaluated 3.0 mg liraglutide’s ability to sustain weight loss after a low-calorie diet (LCD). It included 422 obese/overweight participants who lost ? 5% of their initial weight during the LCD.6.2%0.2%50.5%21.8%
SCALE Obesity and Prediabetes (2015)A 56-week trial involving 3731 non-diabetic patients, 61.2% had prediabetes, with a BMI of at least 30 or a BMI of at least 27 with dyslipidemia or hypertension.8.0%2.6%63.2%27.1%
SCALE Diabetes (2015)The 56-week trial included 846 participants to determine the efficacy and safety of liraglutide for managing weight in adults with overweight or obesity and type 2 diabetes.6.0%2.0%54.3%21.4%
SCALE Sleep Apnea (2015)In this trial, non-diabetic obese participants with moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), who couldn’t use continuous positive airway pressure therapy, were randomly assigned for 32 weeks to either liraglutide 3.0 mg or placebo. Weight loss was a secondary endpoint.5.7%1.6%46.3%18.5%

Wegovy for Weight Loss

The STEP program evaluated the efficacy and safety of semaglutide 2.4 mg subcutaneously once weekly (Wegovy) in a broad population. Here are the findings:

StudyTrial population and durationResults
Average weight loss from their baselinePercentage of participants achieving ?5% weight loss
WegovyPlaceboWegovyPlacebo
STEP 1A total of 1961 participants who were obese or overweight people with related comorbidities were involved. Participants didn’t have diabetes, but 40-45% had prediabetes. The study lasted for 68 weeks.14.9%2.4%86.4%31.5%
STEP 2This 68-week trial recruited 1210 participants with type 2 diabetes and overweight or obesity.9.64%3.42%68.8%28.5%
STEP 3A total of 611 participants who were obese or overweight people with related comorbidities were involved. Participants didn’t have diabetes, and the study lasted for 68 weeks.16.0%5.7%86.6%47.6%
STEP 4In this trial, all 902 participants initially received semaglutide 2.4 mg for 20 weeks before being randomly assigned to continue with semaglutide or switch to a placebo for the subsequent 48 weeks.17.4%5.0%88.7%47.6%
STEP 5This trial assessed the 2-year sustained efficacy of weight loss with semaglutide 2.4 mg versus placebo in 304 participants.15.2%2.6%77.1%34.4%

These investigations have consistently revealed that individuals using Wegovy experience greater body weight reductions than those on Saxenda.

Side Effects of Wegovy vs Saxenda

The study, which compared the efficacy of Saxenda and Wegovy for weight loss, also assessed side effects and discontinuation rates. The results showed that some might better tolerate Wegovy than Saxenda.

Discontinuation rates were 13.5% for semaglutide (Wegovy) and 27.6% for liraglutide (Saxenda), indicating higher dropout for liraglutide. Gastrointestinal side effects were common, affecting over 80% of participants in both groups.

Below is a comparison of the common side effects documented in the prescribing information for Saxenda and Wegovy.

The most common reactions, experienced by over 5% of both adult and pediatric patients aged 12 years and olderSaxendaWegovy
Nausea
Diarrhea
Constipation
Vomiting
Injection site reactions
 
Headache
Hypoglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes
Dyspepsia (indigestion)
Fatigue
Dizziness
Abdominal pain
Increased lipase
 
Upper abdominal pain
 
Pyrexia (fever)
 
Gastroenteritis
Abdominal distension (bloating) 
Eructation (belching or burping) 
Flatulence (passing gas or “farting”) 
Gastroesophageal reflux disease 
Nasopharyngitis (common cold) 
Serious Adverse ReactionsSaxendaWegovy
Risk of thyroid C-tell tumors
Acute pancreatitis
Acute gallbladder disease
Risk for hypoglycemia with concomitant use of anti-diabetic therapy
Increased heart rate
Renal Impairment
(acute kidney injury)
Hypersensitivity Reactions
Suicidal Behavior and Ideation
Diabetic retinopathy complications in patients with type 2 diabetes 

Both Saxenda and Wegovy exhibit comparable common reactions, such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Moreover, they share similar serious side effects, although Wegovy presents an additional concern with the potential for diabetic retinopathy complications.

Active Ingredient and Mechanism of Action

Saxenda contains liraglutide, whereas Wegovy 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). 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, where they slow stomach emptying and decrease appetite. This helps regulate food intake and promotes a feeling of fullness after meals.

By mimicking GLP-1’s actions, Saxenda and Wegovy effectively control appetite and induce a sense of fullness, leading to weight loss.

Approved Indications

Saxenda and Wegovy are both FDA-approved medications for weight loss. Saxenda received its initial approval in December 2014, while Wegovy was later approved in June 2021.

Both medications are approved for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m² or higher (obese) or 27 kg/m² or higher (overweight) with at least one weight-related comorbid condition such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, or dyslipidemia.

In December 2020, the FDA expanded Saxenda’s approval to include adolescents aged 12 and older who weigh over 60 kg and have a 30 kg/m² or higher BMI. Similarly, in December 2022, the FDA approved Wegovy for pediatric patients aged 12 and older with a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for their age and sex (classified as obese).

Furthermore, in March 2024, the FDA granted additional approval for Wegovy. This new indication is to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as death, heart attack, or stroke, in adults with known heart disease who are also obese or overweight.

For patients with heart disease, their doctor might choose Wegovy instead of Saxenda because of its added cardiovascular advantages.

Dosage and Administration

The main difference between Saxenda and Wegovy is their dosage and how their injection pens work. Saxenda is taken once daily with a prefilled multi-dose pen, while Wegovy is injected once weekly using a single-dose prefilled pen.

Saxenda

Saxenda comes in a box containing five prefilled pens. Each pen contains 18 mg of liraglutide. However, the dosage is not administered all at once. Instead, the pen allows for adjustable dosing, offering increments of 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg, 1.8 mg, 2.4 mg, and 3 mg per injection.

The lowest dose of Saxenda is 0.6 mg, taken once daily for one week. After that, the dosage escalates gradually over several weeks.

  • Week 1: 0.6 mg once daily
  • Week 2: 1.2 mg once daily
  • Week 3: 1.8 mg once daily
  • Week 4: 2.4 mg once daily
  • Week 5 and onwards: 3 mg once daily

For maintenance, the suggested dosage is 3 mg daily, except for pediatric patients who may be prescribed a lower dosage of 2.4 mg. If patients encounter difficulties with the increased dosage, the escalation may be postponed.

At the highest daily dose of 3 mg, each pen provides 6 doses, almost lasting a week. Therefore, a box containing five pens will last a month at the maximum maintenance dose.

Wegovy

Wegovy is the first and only GLP-1 RA indicated for chronic weight management that features the convenience of once-weekly administration. Unlike Saxenda, where users adjust the dosage, Wegovy pens come pre-set with the appropriate dosage. After administering the dose, the Wegovy pen is disposed of.

There are four pens in each box of Wegovy that are all the same dose. The available strengths include:

  • 0.25 mg/0.5 mL
  • 0.5 mg/0.5 mL
  • 1.0 mg/0.5 mL
  • 1.7 mg/0.75 mL
  • 2.4 mg/0.75 mL

The dosing schedule for Wegovy typically involves the following:

  • Month 1: 0.25 mg once weekly
  • Month 2: 0.5 mg once weekly
  • Month 3: 1 mg once weekly
  • Month 4: 1.7 mg once weekly
  • Month 5 and beyond: 2.4 mg once weekly

Following this titration phase, the maintenance dose is settled at 2.4 mg once weekly. It’s important to note that the 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, and 1 mg once-weekly doses are solely for initiation and dose escalation.

If the 2.4 mg once-weekly dosage proves intolerable for pediatric patients, it may be reduced to 1.7 mg once weekly. If tolerance cannot be achieved even with the reduced dosage, discontinuation of the treatment is necessary.

Comparing the dosing schedule of Saxenda and Wegovy:

MedicationStarting DoseTitration DoseMaximum Dose
Month 1Month 2Month 3Month 4Month 5+
Wegovy0.25 mg once weekly0.25 mg per week0.5 mg per week1.0 mg per week1.7 mg per week2.4 mg per week2.4 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 of Wegovy vs. Saxenda

Saxenda and Wegovy, both manufactured by Novo Nordisk, have a list price of $1,349.02 per package, which poses a financial challenge for uninsured individuals due to their lack of generic alternatives.

To save on these medications, consider purchasing from Canadian mail-order pharmacies like Pharma Giant. These pharmacies offer up to 90% savings on prescription drugs such as Saxenda and Wegovy. New customers can use the coupon code FIRST10 for a 10% discount on their initial order.

Moreover, Pharma Giant ensures prompt delivery within 3-5 business days and employs stringent measures to package temperature-sensitive medications securely. Below is a price comparison of common weight loss drugs available on Pharma Giant versus online pharmacies in the US:

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

Related Articles

Check out more articles from Pharma Giant comparing Saxenda and Wegovy to similar medications.

Weight Loss Onset

Individual factors such as physical activity, diet, and overall health can influence the effectiveness of Wegovy or Saxenda and impact how quickly the medications begin to take effect.

As reported by GoodRx Health, Saxenda typically begins to take effect within two weeks, whereas Wegovy may require a longer timeframe. Its effects become noticeable after approximately four weeks of use.

Wegovy or Saxenda?

Both Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide) have been proven effective in facilitating weight loss, yet a comparative study has revealed that Wegovy yields more significant weight loss results than Saxenda.

These FDA-approved injectable medications for weight management share similar side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting. However, findings from the same study indicate that Wegovy is better tolerated than Saxenda.

Beyond their shared characteristics, notable differences exist between the two. Wegovy necessitates administration only once a week, which contrasts with Saxenda’s daily injections. Furthermore, Wegovy is indicated to lower the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as death, heart attack, or stroke, in adults with established heart disease who are also overweight or obese. This positioning makes Wegovy particularly advantageous for individuals with heart conditions.

To explore the most suitable option for weight management and health needs, consult your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should not take Saxenda or Wegovy?

It is advisable to refrain from using either of these medications if you:

  • Have a personal or family history of thyroid cancer.
  • Have experienced severe reactions, such as swelling or breathing difficulties, to Wegovy or Saxenda, or any of the inactive ingredients in these medications.
  • Have a history of suicidal thoughts or behaviors, as these medications have the potential to exacerbate mental health conditions.
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding, as the risks to developing fetuses are not well understood.
  • Are planning to conceive within the next two months.

What is generic for Saxenda and Wegovy?

Both Saxenda and Wegovy are brand-name medications for liraglutide and semaglutide, respectively. There isn’t a generic version of Saxenda or Wegovy available, as they are protected by patents, which prevent the production of generic versions.

What to expect on Saxenda?

When starting Saxenda, individuals typically experience a gradual reduction in appetite and a feeling of fullness after eating smaller portions. Nausea is a common side effect, especially during the first week. It usually improves over time as your body adjusts to the medication. Additional side effects may include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, headache, and dizziness. These side effects are usually mild and temporary. Some may experience redness, itching, or swelling at the injection site, which can be mitigated by rotating injection sites. Throughout Saxenda treatment, healthcare providers oversee patient progress, monitoring weight, blood sugar levels (particularly for individuals with diabetes), and any potential adverse reactions.

Does Saxenda work with a keto diet?

While there isn’t specific research on Saxenda and keto diets together, it’s generally considered safe. Many people on platforms like Reddit have had success using Saxenda while following keto or low-carb diets. For personalized advice, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider.

When should I use Saxenda?

You can take Saxenda whenever you like, with or without food and drinks. However, it’s best to stick to a consistent time each day that suits you best. Additionally, keep using Saxenda only if you’ve shed at least 5% of your starting weight after 12 weeks on the 3.0 mg/day dose.

Who makes Saxenda and Wegovy?

Both Saxenda and Wegovy are produced by Novo Nordisk, a multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Denmark.

How often is Wegovy taken?

Wegovy (semaglutide) is taken once weekly as a subcutaneous injection.

Does it matter where you inject Saxenda or Wegovy?

Yes, it does matter where you inject Saxenda or Wegovy. The recommended injection sites are typically the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. It’s also important to note that these drugs should not be injected into a vein or muscle.

Can you stay on the 0.6 mg dose of Saxenda?

No. The initial recommended dose of Saxenda for weight management is 0.6 mg once daily. However, the dosage is typically titrated gradually over several weeks to minimize gastrointestinal side effects and improve tolerability. The maintenance dose of Saxenda for most patients is 3 mg once daily, reached after titration. Staying on the 0.6 mg dose long-term may not provide the optimal weight loss benefits that higher doses offer.

Can you use Wegovy and Saxenda together?

Using Wegovy and Saxenda together is not recommended. Both medications belong to the same class of drugs, and combining them could potentially increase the risk of side effects without providing additional benefit in terms of weight loss.

Do celebrities use Saxenda or Wegovy?

While it’s not possible to know definitively whether specific celebrities use Saxenda, Wegovy, or any other medication for weight management, some celebrities have publicly discussed their struggles with weight loss and their use of various methods to achieve their desired results. However, Elon Musk is among the celebrities who have openly acknowledged using Wegovy.

Weight management is a common concern for people from all walks of life, including celebrities, and many individuals may seek medical intervention such as prescription medications like Saxenda or Wegovy to help them reach their goals.

Can I switch from Saxenda to Wegovy or vice versa?

If your healthcare provider determines that a medication switch is safe, you can transition from Saxenda to Wegovy under their supervision.

Are Wegovy and Saxenda the same?

Wegovy and Saxenda are both weight loss medications approved by the FDA. They are both glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1s) but contain different active ingredients. Wegovy contains semaglutide while Saxenda contains liraglutide. Saxenda has been available for a longer period and was the first medication approved for weight management.

Will insurance pay for Saxenda or Wegovy for weight loss?

Saxenda and Wegovy, along with similar weight-loss drugs, are typically not covered by insurance plans. They can be pricey, and according to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies aren’t obliged to cover them because weight loss is often seen as more of a cosmetic issue than a medical one. However, in certain situations, insurance might cover these medications if your healthcare provider requests it beforehand.

Where can I buy Wegovy and Saxenda?

Consider purchasing from Pharma Giant to save on these medications. Pharma Giant offers up to 90% savings on prescription drugs such as Saxenda and Wegovy. New customers can use the coupon code FIRST10 for a 10% discount on their initial order. Moreover, Pharma Giant ensures prompt delivery within 3-5 business days and employs stringent measures to package temperature-sensitive medications securely. For example, at Pharma Giant, Saxenda is priced at $515, which is half its listed price in the US.

What are the storage instructions for Wegovy?

To properly store Wegovy, it should be kept in the refrigerator between 36°F and 46°F, ensuring it never freezes. Store it in its original carton until you’re prepared to use it. Once you’ve used your dose, dispose of the pen. You can store unopened pens at room temperature (between 46°F and 86°F) for up to 28 days without removing the cap.

What are the storage instructions for Saxenda?

Saxenda must be stored in the refrigerator, between 36°F and 46°F, in its original packaging until you’re prepared to use it. Each Saxenda pen contains multiple doses. After your initial dose, you can store the pen either in the fridge or at room temperature (between 59°F and 86°F) until your next dose. Always keep the pen cap on when it’s not in use.

Sources

FDA. (2023). Highlights Of Prescribing Information of Wegovy. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2023/215256s007lbl.pdf

FDA. (2023). Highlights Of Prescribing Information of Saxenda. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2023/206321s016lbl.pdf

McDermid, E. (2021). A quick guide to the STEP trials. Medicine Matters. https://diabetes.medicinematters.com/semaglutide/obesity/quick-guide-step-trials/18854832

Novo Care. (NA). Wegovy Pricing Information. https://www.novocare.com/obesity/products/wegovy/let-us-help/explaining-list-price.html

Novo Medlink. (NA). Wegovy Product Information. https://www.novomedlink.com/obesity/products/treatments/wegovy/efficacy-safety/clinical-trial-5-results.html

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Wilding et al. (2021). Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity. New England Journal of Medicine/?the ?New England Journal of Medicine, 384(11), 989–1002. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2032183

Garvey et al. (2022). Two-year effects of semaglutide in adults with overweight or obesity: the STEP 5 trial. Nature Medicine, 28(10), 2083–2091. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-022-02026-4

Rubino et al. (2021). Effect of Continued Weekly Subcutaneous Semaglutide vs Placebo on Weight Loss Maintenance in Adults With Overweight or Obesity. JAMA, 325(14), 1414. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2021.3224

Wadden et al. (2021). Effect of Subcutaneous Semaglutide vs Placebo as an Adjunct to Intensive Behavioral Therapy on Body Weight in Adults With Overweight or Obesity. JAMA, 325(14), 1403. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2021.1831

McDermid, E. (2022). STEP 5: Sustained semaglutide treatment maintains weight loss. Medicine Matters. https://diabetes.medicinematters.com/semaglutide/obesity/step-5-sustained-semaglutide-maintains-weight-loss-obesity/23587094

Pi-Sunyer et al. (2015). A Randomized, Controlled Trial of 3.0 mg of Liraglutide in Weight Management. New England Journal of Medicine/?the ?New England Journal of Medicine, 373(1), 11–22. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa1411892

Wadden et al. (2013). Weight maintenance and additional weight loss with liraglutide after low-calorie-diet-induced weight loss: The SCALE Maintenance randomized study. International Journal of Obesity, 37(11), 1443–1451. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2013.120

Davies et al. (2015). Efficacy of Liraglutide for Weight Loss Among Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: The SCALE Diabetes Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 314(7), 687–699. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2015.9676

Blackman et al. (2016). Effect of liraglutide 3.0?mg in individuals with obesity and moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea: the SCALE Sleep Apnea randomized clinical trial. International journal of obesity (2005), 40(8), 1310–1319. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2016.52