Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide) are both GLP-1 medications that are indicated for weight loss. If you are looking to begin a medication to support your weight loss journey, you might wonder which medication is best for you. These two seemingly identical medications have many key similarities and differences that make each drug unique. This article will discuss what sets these medications apart, including their ingredients, effectiveness, dosing schedules, and side effect profiles.

What are Wegovy and Saxenda?

Wegovy and Saxenda are in a class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1s). This class of medications were initially used to treat diabetes and are now FDA-approved for the treatment of weight loss.

Both medications work similarly to a natural hormone our bodies secrete called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). GLP-1 is responsible for decreasing the emptying of the stomach, which slows digestion, and increasing insulin secretion, which lowers blood sugar. Wegovy and Saxenda mimic the natural role of GLP-1 in our bodies. GLP-1s cause weight loss by decreasing appetite, reducing insulin levels, and lowering muscle insulin sensitivity.

What are the similarities between Wegovy and Saxenda?

Wegovy and Saxenda are both GLP-1 receptor agonists that work to assist in weight loss. These medications have many similarities, including their effectiveness, cost, side effects, manufacturer, and administration route. We will discuss these similarities in more detail.

How effective are Wegovy and Saxenda?

Clinical trials have proven that both medications are effective treatments for supporting weight loss in specific populations when combined with lifestyle modifications, such as changes in diet and exercise.

In clinical trials for Saxenda, participants repeatedly demonstrated clinically significant weight loss. In a randomized, controlled trial of 3.0 mg of Saxenda, 63.2% of the people lost at least 5% of their body weight. 33.1% of people lost more than 10%.

In clinical trials for Wegovy, participants demonstrated impressive weight loss results. This includes the SUSTAIN (Semaglutide Unabated Sustainability in Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes), STEP 1 (Research Study Investigating How Well Semaglutide Works in People Suffering From Overweight or Obesity), and PIONEER (Peptide Innovation for Early Diabetes) clinical trials. The STEP 8 clinical trial found that Wegovy resulted in significantly more significant weight loss than Saxenda in obese and overweight adults. The mean weight change from baseline was down 16% with Wegovy vs. 6% with Saxenda.

Although slightly different results were observed in these clinical trials, overall, both medications resulted in significant weight loss. Either medication is a wonderful adjunct to proper diet and exercise.

What is the cost of Wegovy and Saxenda?

The cost of Wegovy and Saxenda is very similar. If insurance is willing to cover theses medications, it can cost as little as $25 per month. Unfortunately for those without insurance coverage, these medications can be quite expensive. Wegovy can cost more than $1,500, and Saxenda can cost over $1,3000. Check with your local pharmacist, insurance company, and the manufacturer’s website for discounts and promotions.

Do Wegovy and Saxenda have side effects?

Wegovy and Saxenda have similar side effect profiles. Both medications’ most common side effects include gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain. Other common side effects include fatigue, headaches, and dizziness.

Both medications can cause more severe side effects that should be discussed in greater detail with your healthcare provider. This includes increased heart rate, suicidal thoughts, and hypoglycemia. These medications might be unsafe for certain individuals due to their specific medical history.

Wegovy can cause thyroid C-cell tumors, acute pancreatitis, acute gallbladder disease, acute kidney injury, hypersensitivity, and diabetic retinopathy in patients with diabetes.

Saxenda can cause severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea that will not stop, pain or difficulty urinating, swelling in the ankles or feet, tiredness, difficulty breathing, trouble swallowing, swollen neck or lump in the neck, and jaundice.

Who is the manufacturer of Wegovy and Saxenda?

Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company, manufactures both medications. Novo Nordisk specializes in developing drugs to treat medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, growth disorders, cardiovascular diseases, blood disorders, and other rare diseases.

How are Wegovy and Saxenda administered?

Both medications are subcutaneous injections. This means you inject this medication under your skin. Wegovy comes in a pre-filled single-use injection pen with specific dosages. Saxenda comes in a reusable pre-filled pen. You must adjust the dosage and use different needles before each injection. Both are very easy to use, and your provider will review these instructions with you before beginning treatment.

What are the differences between Wegovy and Saxenda?

The differences between Wegovy and Saxenda include the active ingredients, FDA-approved uses, and the dosing schedule. We’ll discuss these critical differences in further detail below.

What are the active ingredients in Wegovy and Saxenda?

Although they are both GLP-1 receptor agonists, they have different active ingredients that make the medication effective. The active ingredient in Wegovy is semaglutide, and the active ingredient in Saxenda is liraglutide.

The active ingredient in Wegovy, semaglutide, was initially approved as a diabetes medication known as Ozempic. Wegovy has a much higher dosage of semaglutide than Ozempic, which makes it more effective for weight loss. Wegovy received FDA approval as a weight loss medication in 2021.

The active ingredient in Saxenda, liraglutide, was initially approved as an adjunct therapy to lifestyle changes for managing type 2 diabetes. Liraglutide was originally sold under the brand name Victoza. Victoza has since been taken off the market. Liraglutide was FDA approved in 2014, under the brand name Saxenda, as a weight loss medication to be used in combination with diet and exercise changes.

What are the approved uses of Wegovy and Saxenda?

Although they are both GLP-1 receptor agonists, they have slightly different approved uses. Wegovy is approved for treating type 2 diabetes, while Saxenda is not. Additionally, the following statements from Wegovy and Saxenda detail the specific approved use for weight loss:

  • “Saxenda® (liraglutide) injection 3 mg is an injectable prescription medicine used for adults with excess weight (BMI ≥ 27) who also have weight-related medical problems or obesity (BMI ≥ 30), and children aged 12-17 years with body weight above 132 pounds (60 kg) and obesity to help them lose weight and keep the weight off. Saxenda® should be used with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.”
  • “WEGOVY® (semaglutide) injection 2.4 mg is an injectable prescription medicine that may help adults and children aged ? 12 years with obesity (BMI ≥ 30 for adults, BMI ≥ 95th percentile for age and sex for children), or some adults with excess weight (BMI ≥ 27) (overweight) who also have weight-related medical problems to help them lose weight and keep it off. Wegovy® should be used with a reduced calorie meal plan and increased physical activity.”

What are the dosing schedules of Wegovy and Saxenda?

The dosage schedule for each medication may vary based on your specific needs, the side effects you experience, and your doctor’s recommendations.

Due to the prolonged activity of the active ingredient in Wegovy, this medication must only be administered once a week. You will begin on a low dose, typically 0.25 mg per week, and gradually increase the dose once monthly until you reach a dosage of 2.4 mg injected once weekly. This gradual increase helps to reduce the risk of side effects.

Saxenda must be injected daily. Like the protocol of starting Wegovy, your physician will begin at a low dose, typically 0.6 mg daily. Over 6 to 10 weeks, they will gradually increase the dose weekly until you reach the final dosage of 3.0 mg injected daily.

Key Takeaways:

The main similarities and differences between Wegovy and Saxenda can help you to decide which medication is right for you. Below is a table highlighting the key takeaways:

Wegovy

Saxenda

Type of medicationGLP-1 receptor agonistGLP-1 receptor agonist
Active compoundSemaglutideLiraglutide
AdministrationSubcutaneous injectionSubcutaneous injection
Dosing scheduleInjected once weekly, increasing dosage once a month Injected once daily, increasing dosage once a week
FDA approved usesWeight loss and the treatment of type 2 diabetesWeight loss
Cost$25 with insurance, $1,500 without$25 with insurance, $1,300 without
ManufacturerNovo NordiskNovo Nordisk
Most common side effectsNausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, headaches, and dizzinessNausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, headaches, and dizziness
Serious side effectsThyroid C-cell tumors, acute pancreatitis, acute kidney injury, acute gallbladder disease, hypersensitivity, and diabetic retinopathySevere nausea, vomiting, diarrhea that will not stop, pain or difficulty urinating, tiredness, jaundice, difficulty breathing, swelling in the ankles or feet, trouble swallowing, and lump or swollen neck.

Which is better, Wegovy or Saxenda?

This question really comes down to the specific needs of each patient. What medication is best for you is based on various factors, such as your current health, medical history, supplementation, and medication usage.

Although Wegovy has been proven to result in more weight loss in specific clinical trials, it’s best to discuss your options with a healthcare provider who is familiar with your medical background before starting any weight loss medications. Together, you can come to a conclusion about which medication is right for you.

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