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Ozempic vs Victoza

Drug facts and comparison

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Medically reviewed by  Jamie Winn, PharmD

Uses

  • Type 2 diabetes
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  • Type 2 diabetes
Get Victoza for only
$49 per month
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Summary

Brand name: Ozempic
Brand name: Victoza
Manufacturer: Novo Nordisk
Manufacturer: Novo Nordisk
Active ingredient: semaglutide
Active ingredient: liraglutide
Indication: Type 2 diabetes
Indication: Type 2 diabetes
Frequency of injection: 0.25mg once weekly, 0.5mg once weekly, 1mg once weekly
Frequency of injection: Once daily
Duration of action: 0.25mg once weekly, 0.5mg once weekly, 1mg once weekly
Duration of action: Once daily
Injection method: Injection under the skin (subcutaneous injection) using a pre-filled Ozempic Pen
Injection method: Subcutaneous injection
Average cost 2 mg/1.5 ml pre-filled Pen: $899
Average cost 18 mg/3 mL subcutaneous solution, 6 milliliters: $757

Side Effects

Most common

  • Feeling sick
  • Being sick (vomiting)
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach (abdominal) pain
  • Constipation

More serious

  • Thyroid tumors and a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma
  • Kidney problems, including kidney failure
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Changes in vision
  • Very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

Most common

  • Feeling sick
  • Being sick (vomiting)
  • Diarrhea
  • Low blood sugar
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors

More serious

  • Thyroid tumors and a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma
  • Kidney problems, including kidney failure
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) – severe stomach problems, including pain, nausea, and vomiting
  • Very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

Drug Interactions

Severe Interactions
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections such as gatifloxacin
  • Bexarotene used to treat skin cancer
Serious interactions
  • Any other diabetes medications, like insulin or sulfonylureas
  • Diuretics, taken to make you lose water and salt, usually to treat high blood pressure – bumetanide, furosemide
  • Corticosteroids such as cortisone and prednisolone
  • Fenofibrate, taken to lower blood triglyceride levels
  • Beta 2-stimulants, taken to treat asthma – salmeterol
  • Antidepressants, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – phenelzine, selegiline, sertraline
  • Disopyramide, taken to treat heart rhythm problems
  • Estrogen containing drugs including birth control and hormone replacements
Moderate Interaction
  • Steroids used topically (on the skin) such as betamethasone, clobetasol, hydrocortisone, and mometasone
Severe interactions
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections such as gatifloxacin
  • Bexarotene used to treat skin cancer
Serious interactions
  • Any other diabetes medications, like insulin or sulfonylureas
  • Diuretics, taken to make you lose water and salt, usually to treat high blood pressure – bumetanide, furosemide
  • Corticosteroids such as cortisone and prednisolone
  • Beta 2-stimulants, taken to treat asthma – salmeterol
  • Estrogen containing drugs including birth control and hormone replacements
Moderate interactions
  • Steroids used topically (on the skin) such as betamethasone, clobetasol, hydrocortisone, and mometasone

Warnings

You should not use Ozempic if you:

  • Are allergic to the active ingredient semaglutide
  • Are allergic to any of the other ingredients in Ozempic
  • Have Type 1 diabetes (Ozempic is for Type 2 diabetes only)
  • Have an endocrine system condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2)
  • Have or anyone in your family has had a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)
  • Have diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Are under 18 years of age

You should talk to your doctor before using Ozempic if you:

  • Are taking any of the medications that could interact with Ozempic
  • Have or have had any problems with your pancreas
  • Have or have had any problems with your kidneys
  • Have a history of diabetic retinopathy
  • Are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed

You should not use Victoza if you:

  • Are allergic to the active ingredient liraglutide
  • Are allergic to any of the other ingredients found in Victoza
  • Have type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis

You should talk to your doctor before using Victoza if you:

  • Severe heart disease
  • A disease of the pancreas
  • Severe liver disease
  • Are on dialysis
  • A severe stomach or gut problem
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Symptoms of acute pancreatitis (like a persistent, severe stomach ache)
  • Thyroid disease
  • Are pregnant or are breastfeeding

Dosage

0.25mg once weekly
0.5mg once weekly
1mg once weekly

Once daily

Cost

2 mg/1.5 ml pre-filled Ozempic Pen costs $899 on average for 1.5 milliliters

18 mg/3 mL subcutaneous solution Victoza costs $757 on average for 6 milliliters

FAQs

Ozempic and Victoza are brand-name prescription drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes commonly taken with metformin to achieve glycemic control. They also help lower your risk for heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease. Ozempic and Victoza are both manufactured by Novo Nordisk.

It is not always easy to know how these medications work and the differences between them. Your doctor will prescribe you the most appropriate medication for your needs, but it is still important to better understand the diabetes drugs available to you and their possible side effects.

Both Ozempic and Victoza are injectable type 2 diabetes medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But are they the same? Here we focus on Ozempic vs Victoza and explain clearly and simply what they are, how they work, and the similarities and differences between them.

Understanding GLP-1 receptor agonists

Ozempic and Victoza belong to a drug class called GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) receptor agonists. When you eat and drink, your body produces digestive hormones called incretins. GLP-1 is one of these incretin hormones.

GLP-1 incretin hormones help lower your blood glucose levels when you digest food in three ways. They:

  • Stimulate your body to produce more insulin
  • Prevent the release of glucagon
  • Slow down how quickly your body digests food

Ozempic and Victoza act in the same way as GLP-1 incretin hormones. By stimulating the same receptors, they cause your body to release more insulin, less glucagon, and digest food slower.

Victoza and Ozempic are more active when you have consumed food and are digesting it. They become less active when you stop eating or drinking. They help to ensure your blood glucose levels do not fall too low causing hypoglycemia. Victoza and Ozempic can not be used to treat type 1 diabetes.

Unlike many other treatments for type 2 diabetes, Ozempic (semaglutide) and Victoza (liraglutide) are not types of insulin. They are human hormones that act on different parts of your body. Semaglutide and liraglutide encourage your pancreas to produce more insulin, helping to lower your blood sugar after you’ve eaten. They also appear to increase the growth of the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin (beta-cells).

What is the difference between Ozempic and Victoza?

So, what is the difference between Ozempic and Victoza? Both are GLP-1 receptor agonist medications used to treat type 2 diabetes. They are given as an injection under the skin (subcutaneous injection) using a self-injecting pen device, and they work in the same way. Although Ozempic and Victoza are similar, there are key differences between them.

The active ingredients they contain are the most important difference between them. Ozempic contains a GLP-1 receptor agonist called semaglutide, whilst Victoza contains a GLP-1 receptor agonist called liraglutide. Semaglutide and liraglutide do work in similar ways, but they are not identical and you may respond to them differently.

Ozempic can be used in adults 18 years and older, and Victoza can be used in adults and children 10 years and older.

The doses prescribed for each drug also vary. Ozempic pens can be prescribed in 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, and 1 mg doses, whereas Victoza pens can be prescribed in a pre-filled, multi-dose pen that delivers 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg, or 1.8 mg doses.

The frequency of Ozempic and Victoza dosing differs. Ozempic is a weekly semaglutide injection and Victoza is a daily liraglutide injection.

How effective is Ozempic vs Victoza?

Both Ozempic and Victoza are proven and effective treatments for type 2 diabetes. However, in the SUSTAIN 10 clinical trial that compared the two medications, semaglutide was found to be superior to liraglutide in reducing HbA1c and body weight. The safety profiles were generally similar, except for higher rates of gastrointestinal adverse effects seen with semaglutide than liraglutide.

The study was an open-label trial with 577 adults with type 2 diabetes. The primary endpoint was changed in HbA1c (hemoglobin A1c) from baseline to week 30. The secondary endpoint was body weight changes from baseline to week 30. Mean HbA1c (baseline 8.2%) decreased by 1.7% with semaglutide and 1.0% with liraglutide. The A1c test gives us information on how good your blood sugar level control has been over a period of 3 months. An A1c value of 7% is the general goal for diabetic adults but can differ depending on age and other factors. If treatment is working this A1c test should show improvement. See our blog on What are normal blood glucose levels?

Although Ozempic was found to be more effective than Victoza, it is important to note that people respond to medications differently. This means some people will get better results from Victoza and some from Ozempic. If you’d like to read more about how each drug performed in studies, see the prescribing information for Ozempic and Victoza.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends using a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonist, such as Ozempic or Victoza, in adults with type 2 diabetes who also have cardiovascular disease or kidney disease.

Injecting Ozempic and Victoza

Ozempic and Victoza are injected in the same way. You need to inject under your skin (subcutaneous injection) rather than into a vein or muscle. The fatty tissue just under your skin is the ideal place for the drug to be absorbed gradually. If you inject it deeper into your muscle your body will absorb it too quickly. The effects may not last long and will additionally be more painful. Judging the depth correctly can be quite difficult, particularly if you are slim but it is important to master the technique to stay safe.

The injection sites are the thigh, abdomen, or upper arm, these areas are likely to have enough body fat to allow you to easily inject. The importance of rotating injection sites should be noted to maintain effective drug absorption and prevent problems.

Common side effects of Ozempic and Victoza

Ozempic and Victoza both belong to the same class of medication hence, they both have similar common gastrointestinal side effects such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Burping

In rare instances, Ozempic and Victoza can cause more serious side effects, including:

  • An increased risk of thyroid tumors and a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma, symptoms such as hoarseness, or a lump or swelling in the throat
  • Kidney problems, including kidney failure
  • Serious allergic reactions such as swelling under your skin, normally in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. Swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat leading to shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis). Symptoms of pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting that doesn’t stop
  • Changes in your vision
  • Very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

For medical advice about side effects, talk with your health care provider and also read the medication guide and instructions for use, that comes with Ozempic and Victoza. You are encouraged to report the negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Diabetes complications

It is most important to realize if diabetes is not treated correctly, it can seriously affect your body. The first thing to remember is you can treat many of the possible problems from diabetes. Unquestionably treatment is most effective when complications are picked up early. Therefore attending regular checkups is vital.

Two types of complications can occur. Firstly, short-term complications (also known as acute) that occur rapidly in the body e.g. hypoglycemia. Secondly, long-term complications (also known as chronic) that take time to develop due to uncontrolled diabetes. Extensive studies in the US (the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial) have shown that any improvement in blood glucose control will reduce your risk of developing complications.

If Ozempic or Victoza are not working well for you speak to your doctor to avoid complications.

Boxed warnings for Ozempic and Victoza

Ozempic and Victoza have a boxed warning by the FDA for thyroid cancer risk including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). This was shown in rodent studies but it is unknown whether this can occur in humans. Patients with a history or family history of thyroid cancer, MTC, or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2) should not take Ozempic or Victoza.

MTC can start as a lump in the throat, cause voice hoarseness, or windpipe pipe blockage.

Ozempic and Victoza drug interactions

  • Any medications you take orally to reduce the risk of blood clots (oral anticoagulants) like warfarin
  • Insulin – Ozempic and Victoza can be used alongside insulin, but your doctor may change the dose of insulin you take and/or how often you use insulin
  • Any other medications that are taken to treat type 2 diabetes such as sulfonylureas

Ozempic and Victoza delay stomach emptying, and the absorption of oral medications may be affected if taken at the same time. It is important to discuss with your healthcare provider the timing of your medications. Narrow therapeutic index drugs should especially be monitored. These include drugs with a small window between therapeutic effect and toxicity such as Coumadin (warfarin), Lanoxin (digoxin), and seizure medications.

Ozempic and Victoza warnings & precautions

Don’t take Ozempic or Victoza if you:

  • Are allergic to the active ingredients semaglutide or liraglutide, or any of the other ingredients in Ozempic or Victoza
  • Have had, or anyone in your family has had a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)
  • Have an endocrine system condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2)
  • Have pancreatitis
  • Have type 1 diabetes (Ozempic is for type 2 diabetes only)
  • Are under 18 years of age

Talk to your doctor before taking Ozempic or Victoza if you:

  • Have had any problems with your pancreas or kidneys
  • Have ever had diabetic retinopathy
  • Are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed

Always speak to your healthcare provider for medical advice regarding drug interactions, taking supplements, taking over-the-counter medications, and drinking alcohol when using Ozempic or Victoza. Healthcare professionals are the most reliable and accurate source of drug information.

Can I use Ozempic and Victoza with alcohol?

Yes, but it is strongly recommended by healthcare professionals to avoid alcohol if you have diabetes. Alcohol interacts with diabetes medications causing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). When you drink alcohol your liver will choose to remove the alcohol in your body over maintaining your blood sugar level leading to hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar makes you drowsy, confused and makes walking difficult, which are also the signs of being drunk. The confusion of being drunk or hypoglycemic can be very unsafe, and a low sugar episode could go unnoticed if you are drunk. Moderate amounts of alcohol may cause blood sugar to rise but excessive alcohol can actually decrease your blood sugar levels.

The American Diabetes Association recommends you ask yourself three questions before drinking alcohol with diabetes:

  • Is my diabetes in good control?
  • Does my doctor agree that I can have alcohol?
  • Do I know how alcohol can affect me and my blood sugar?

Are Ozempic and Victoza the same?

Ozempic and Victoza are both GLP-1 receptor agonist medications used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. Although similar, they are different medications that contain different active ingredients. Semaglutide in Ozempic and liraglutide in Victoza. The two medications may also affect you differently.

What drugs are comparable to Ozempic and Victoza?

Victoza belongs to a class of Type 2 diabetes medications called GLP-1 receptor agonists. Other GLP-1 receptor agonists include BydureonByetta, Trulicity (dulaglutide), Rybelsus (oral medication of Ozempic), Wegovy (indicated for weight management), and Saxenda (same active drug as Victoza used for weight loss in obesity treatment)

How long does it take for Ozempic to work?

Ozempic begins working as soon as you take it. It can take 5 to 8 weeks before you see a noticeable drop in your blood glucose and up to 6 months for it to be most effective. Ozempic should be taken alongside changes to your diet and exercise. You will get better results faster if you stick to your diet and exercise program.

How long can you stay on Victoza?

Victoza can be taken over the long term. It is important to note that you may need to stop using Victoza if it causes you severe side effects, or if it does not work effectively for you.

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The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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