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Ozempic vs Saxenda

Ozempic is an approved treatment for Type 2 diabetes while Saxenda is approved for weight loss. Ozempic is semaglutide-based and regulates blood sugar. Saxenda is liraglutide-based. The Food and Drug Administration recommends each for its approved use and warns of potential risks of off-label uses.

Last Modified: November 16, 2023
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Ozempic and Saxenda Uses

Semaglutide is the active component in Ozempic, which helps regulate blood sugar. The drug prompts the pancreas to produce more insulin and induces feelings of satiety. Saxenda contains liraglutide and is FDA-approved for weight loss.

Both Ozempic and Saxenda mirror the effects of the natural hormone GLP-1, signaling the body’s satiation after food intake and ensuring the proper utilization of energy derived from meals. Doctors increasingly prescribe Saxenda and sometimes write off-label prescriptions for Ozempic for weight loss.

“Ozempic injection is approved to lower blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Saxenda has been approved since December 2014 for chronic weight management.” ”
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Ozempic manufacturer Novo Nordisk recently released a statement concerning off-label uses of its semaglutide drugs: “We’ve been closely monitoring how semaglutide — Ozempic and Wegovy in particular — are being broadly discussed in both mainstream and social media. With this, we’re concerned about certain accounts from public media and social channels, including reports of off-label use of semaglutide for purely cosmetic or aesthetic weight loss.”

Novo Nordisk said it was concerned about unauthorized versions of semaglutide “of unknown origin” being sold. The company was also concerned about “insufficient clinical evaluations by some telehealth providers promoting semaglutide-based products for weight loss.”

Key Differences Between Ozempic and Saxenda

A key difference between Saxenda and Ozempic begins with dosage. While both are considered GLP-1s, the medications differ substantially in their administration and dosing guidelines. 

Additionally, the active ingredient in Ozempic, semaglutide, demonstrates more effectiveness in weight loss and blood sugar control than liraglutide, the active component in Saxenda. Ozempic generally presents fewer side effects, making it a better option for individual response.

3 Key Differences
  • Cost: Cost ranges based on distributors. Pricing for Ozempic can run from $890-$1,000 per month, while the average cost of Saxenda is $1,349.
  • Ingredients and Effectiveness: Ozempic contains semaglutide. Novo Nordisk’s other semaglutide drug, Wegovy, is FDA-approved for weight loss and has proven more effective in causing clinically significant weight loss than Saxenda’s active ingredient, liraglutide.
  • Side Effects and Tolerance: Both liraglutide and semaglutide can cause constipation and allergic reactions. Common Saxenda side effects include headaches, heartburn, runny nose, sneezing, cough, fatigue, difficulty urinating and pain or burning during urination. Common Ozempic side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and allergic reactions.

For Ozempic, the dosage is progressive, starting with 0.25 mg once a week for four weeks. This initial dosage helps patients acclimatize to the drug’s effects. By the fifth week, health care providers typically increase the dosage to 0.5 mg weekly. 

Saxenda is available in a 3 ml prefilled injection pen. Initially, a single Saxenda pen will last for 17 days and a full pack of five pens extends to six weeks. The dosing for Saxenda gradually escalates in 0.6 mg intervals until it reaches the maintenance dose of 3 mg daily.

Lawsuit Information
Lawsuits are being filed by people who developed severe gastroparesis after using Ozempic.
View Lawsuits

Is Ozempic or Saxenda More Effective?

For managing Type 2 diabetes, Ozempic shows significant reductions in HbA1c, but both medications may be effective at promoting weight loss. Comparing Saxenda vs. Ozempic efficacy depends on the context. Both medications are GLP-1 agonists, but they have slightly different indications and clinical trial results.

Effectiveness of Semaglutide vs. Liraglutide
  • In a study with 2,000 adults diagnosed with obesity using semaglutide, 50% lost 15% of their body weight over 68 weeks, and nearly 335 lost 20%.
  • Without semaglutide, participants relying solely on lifestyle changes shed approximately 2.4% of their weight in the same period.
  • In a study of 769 participants on liraglutide, 52.5% lost at least 5% of their body weight in six months, and 18.3% lost at least 10%.
  • Liraglutide positively impacts blood pressure and glucose levels in patients diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.

Saxenda was specifically approved and studied for weight loss. It demonstrates meaningful reductions in body weight for most patients. When choosing between the two drugs, individuals should discuss their goals, the potential side effects and other relevant factors with their doctors to decide which medication is most suitable.

Ozempic vs. Saxenda Side Effects

Ozempic and Saxenda share many side effects. These include cold and flu symptoms, signs of hypoglycemia, abdominal pain, fatigue and allergic and adverse reactions.

Both Ozempic and Saxenda have FDA-boxed warnings for thyroid C-cell tumor risk.

Other shared severe side effects with both medications include clay-colored stools and yellowing of the eyes or skin. Ongoing pain in the upper middle or left areas of the stomach has also been reported.

The methods of monitoring side effects of Ozempic vs. Saxenda weight loss are similar. Doctors will review side effects and any changes that accompany increases in dosage.

Possible Serious Ozexmpic and Saxenda Side Effects

Outside of the common potential symptoms of nausea, vomiting, heartburn, burping, diarrhea or constipation, there are possible severe side effects of Ozempic and Saxenda side effects that may require emergency medical intervention. These side effects can also include cognitive effects.

Severe Ozempic Side Effects
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Decreased urination
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Slurred speech
  • Swelling in the extremities
  • VIsion Changes

Severe Saxenda side effects include similar adverse reactions. Mental health effects have also been reported.

Severe Saxenda Side Effects
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • New or worsening depression
  • Rash
  • Swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, eyes or throat
  • Thoughts of self-harm

Speak to your doctor about concerns regarding side effects and monitor any adverse reactions you may experience. Seek immediate medical attention if symptoms are severe.

Recent Safety Concerns of Ozempic and Saxenda

Reports of suicidal thoughts are a primary safety concern for patients on Ozempic and Saxenda. The European Medicines Agency began investigating after Iceland’s health regulator reported three cases of patients contemplating suicide or self-harm associated with these medications. The U.S. prescribing guidelines for drugs containing semaglutide and liraglutide recommend monitoring patients for such thoughts or behaviors.

Some patients using these medications also report gallbladder-related complications, prompting health professionals to monitor these effects and assess the broader implications closely. The GLP-1RAs included in drugs like Ozempic and Saxenda are associated with a potential reduction in gallbladder contraction, decreasing gastrointestinal motility. Chronic use could impair gallbladder function.

People reporting issues with these and similar drugs have already begun filing lawsuits. A 2023 Ozempic lawsuit alleges that a former user of the prescription drug experienced stomach paralysis (gastroparesis), a condition disrupting food movement from the stomach to the intestine. The primary case involves a Louisiana woman who faced extreme complications after using both Ozempic and Mounjaro.

Ozempic vs. Saxenda: Which One Should I Take?

A physician typically recommends the drug that aligns with the FDA-approved treatment for the patient’s condition: Ozempic is FDA-approved only for treating Type 2 diabetes, while Saxenda has a distinct FDA-approval for weight loss. 

The FDA approved each drug for these specific indications and warned against off-label uses. Taking medications as intended and within their known indications is important.

Before starting either drug, patients should engage in an in-depth discussion with their health care provider about the potential benefits and risks. Both Ozempic and Saxenda come with side effects and concerns. While they might benefit some individuals, there are inherent risks one should weigh against the advantages with a physician.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.