If you have type 2 diabetes, you may wonder if the prescription drugs Ozempic (semaglutide) or Victoza (liraglutide) are possible treatment options for you.
Ozempic and Victoza are both used to:
- help lower blood sugar levels in adults* with type 2 diabetes
- help reduce the risk for certain cardiovascular problems (related to the heart or blood vessels) in adults with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
* Victoza is also approved for this use in some children.
Ozempic and Victoza are also both given at home by subcutaneous injection (an injection under your skin). However, these drugs have some differences, too.
Ozempic contains the active ingredient semaglutide. Victoza contains the active ingredient liraglutide.
Semaglutide and liraglutide belong to the same drug class, called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists. (A drug class is a group of medications that work in a similar way.)
Ozempic and Victoza are both used to:
- Help lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes (along with diet and exercise).
- Help reduce the risk for certain cardiovascular (heart- or blood vessel-related) problems in adults with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Examples of these problems include heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular issues.
Victoza is also used to:
- Help lower blood sugar levels in children ages 10 years and older with type 2 diabetes (when used with diet and exercise).
Both drugs can be used alone or with other diabetes medications.
If you have questions about Ozempic’s or Victoza’s uses, talk with your doctor.
Ozempic and Victoza don’t interact with any foods. That means there aren’t any foods you need to avoid during your treatment with either drug. In addition, both drugs may be used with or without food.
However, a common side effect with both Ozempic and Victoza is nausea. If you experience nausea, eating bland foods may help you feel better during your treatment. Examples of these foods include toast, crackers, or rice. Also, it may help to avoid fried or fatty foods.
Some other drugs used for diabetes and heart disease may interact with certain foods. Your doctor may have you use other diabetes drugs along with Ozempic or Victoza to lower your blood sugar. For example, metformin, a common diabetes drug,
Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you aren’t sure if you should avoid certain foods with your medications.
Ozempic and Victoza are not approved for weight loss. However, some people using Ozempic and Victoza in studies did lose weight. (Although in certain studies, when Victoza was taken with other diabetes medications, some people lost weight, and others gained weight.)
Although Ozempic and Victoza aren’t currently approved for weight loss, other diabetes drugs are used for this purpose. For example, Saxenda (liraglutide), which has the same active drug as Victoza, is used for weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes.
Saxenda can’t be used with either Ozempic or Victoza. If you’re interested in learning more about Saxenda or other weight-loss treatments, talk with your doctor.
Both Ozempic and Victoza come as liquid solutions that are available as pens. Both drugs are given as a subcutaneous injection (an injection under your skin).
The key difference between Ozempic and Victoza is how often they’re used. Ozempic is injected once per week, while Victoza is injected once per day.
Ozempic and Victoza can be injected into any of the following injection sites:
- abdomen (belly)
- upper arm
Whether you have health insurance or not, cost may be a factor when you’re considering these drugs. But keep in mind that what you’ll pay for either drug will depend on your treatment plan, health insurance, and the pharmacy you use.
Both Ozempic and Victoza are brand-name drugs. There currently isn’t a generic version of either medication. (A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication that’s made from chemicals.) You’ll usually pay more for brand-name drugs than for generics.
Like all medications, Ozempic and Victoza may cause side effects. The most common side effects of either drug are usually mild. They may be easily managed or go away on their own. However, serious side effects are possible and can require emergency medical care.
Mild side effects
Ozempic and Victoza may cause mild side effects in some people. The chart below lists examples of mild side effects that can most commonly occur with these drugs.
|Indigestion (upset stomach)||X|
|Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)*||X||X|
Serious side effects
In addition to the mild side effects described above, serious side effects may occur in people using Ozempic or Victoza. In general, serious side effects from these drugs are rare.
The chart below lists the possible serious side effect of these drugs.
|Pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas)||X||X|
|Diabetic retinopathy (blood vessel damage in the eye)||X|
* It’s possible that dehydration from other side effects (such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting) may cause kidney problems or make your kidney problems worse.
† Ozempic and Victoza both have a
You may wonder whether Ozempic and Victoza are effective at treating your condition.
Effectiveness for managing blood sugar levels
Ozempic and Victoza are both used (along with diet and exercise) to help lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. Both drugs have been found to be effective for this use. One
This same study found that Ozempic may be more likely to cause side effects than Victoza, though. And people using Ozempic were more likely to stop treatment due to side effects than people using Victoza. However, more research is needed to confirm these results.
Effectiveness for lowering cardiovascular risks
Ozempic and Victoza are also used in adults with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease to lower the risk of certain cardiovascular problems (related to the heart or blood vessels). Examples of these problems include heart attack, stroke, or death from heart issues.
A large review of
In addition, the American Diabetes Association’s
Ozempic or Victoza may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take either drug.
Both Ozempic and Victoza have a
Both drugs have caused thyroid cancer in animals. However, it’s unclear if these drugs raise the risk of thyroid cancer in humans. You shouldn’t use either drug if you’ve had a rare condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, or if you or a family member has ever had medullary thyroid cancer.
During treatment with Ozempic or Victoza, tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of thyroid cancer. Examples of these symptoms may include a lump in your neck, trouble swallowing, shortness of breath, or a scratchy voice. You may need to stop treatment if you experience these symptoms.
In addition to the boxed warning, Ozempic and Victoza have other warnings.
Before using Ozempic or Victoza, with your doctor if any of the following conditions or health factors apply to you.
- Warnings for Ozempic and Victoza:
- pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas)
- kidney problems
- severe allergic reaction
This list may not include all warnings associated with these drugs.
The short answer: Yes, you can switch from using one of these drugs to the other.
Details: If your doctor wants you to switch medications, it’s important to follow their instructions on how to do so safely.
You may have to wait a certain amount of time between using the two medications. This is because Ozempic is taken once per week and Victoza is taken once per day.
If your doctor has you switch from Ozempic to Victoza, you should wait 1 week after your last Ozempic dose to start Victoza. If you’re switching from Victoza to Ozempic, you’ll take your first Ozempic dose the day after you take your last dose of Victoza.
When switching drugs, your doctor will determine the dosage of the new drug that’s right for you. They may start you on a lower dose and increase your dose over time.
Reminder: You shouldn’t switch drugs or stop your current treatment unless your doctor recommends it.
If you have type 2 diabetes, Ozempic and Victoza may be treatment options to help manage your blood sugar levels. And if you also have cardiovascular disease, both drugs can help lower your risk for heart attack, stroke, or death from heart problems.
Both drugs are given by subcutaneous injection (an injection under your skin). But one key difference between these drugs is how often they’re used. Ozempic is injected once per week, while Victoza is injected once per day.
To learn more about either of these drugs, talk with your doctor. They can determine whether one of these drugs may be right for you. Some questions that might be helpful to ask your doctor include:
- Would Ozempic or Victoza interact with any medications I’m taking?
- Do I have a higher risk for side effects from Ozempic or Victoza?
- How many calories per day should I consume while taking Ozempic or Victoza?
- Can I still inject my insulin at the usual times while taking Ozempic or Victoza?
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If I lose enough weight with Ozempic or Victoza, will I be able to stop my other diabetes medications?Anonymous patient
It’s possible, but you shouldn’t stop taking any medication without talking with your doctor first.
Losing weight can help lower your average blood sugar level. If your blood sugar is lowered enough during your Ozempic or Victoza treatment, your doctor could have you stop using one or more of any other diabetes drugs you take.
It’s important to note that Ozempic and Victoza won’t cure your type 2 diabetes. There’s currently no cure for diabetes. However, drugs such as Ozempic and Victoza can help lower your blood sugar levels to help you better manage your diabetes.
If you have questions about your diabetes treatment plan, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.Alex Brewer, PharmD, MBAAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.