If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor may prescribe Victoza. This drug is used to:
- help manage blood sugar levels in adults and some children, along with a healthy diet and exercise
- lower the risk of severe heart or blood vessel problems in adults who also have heart disease
Victoza comes as a solution that you’ll inject under your skin using a pen. It belongs to a group of diabetes drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists. Victoza is not currently available as a generic.
Read on to learn more about Victoza’s side effects, dosage, and more.
Like most drugs, Victoza may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of Victoza’s more common side effects. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.
Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:
- your age
- other health conditions you have
- other medications you take
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Victoza. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a list of some of the mild side effects Victoza can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Victoza’s prescribing information.
Mild side effects of Victoza that have been reported include:
- upset stomach
- loss of appetite
- hives (raised, itchy patches on your skin)
- low blood sugar levels
Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Victoza can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Victoza, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects of Victoza that have been reported include:
- pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- severely low blood sugar levels
- gallbladder disease
- kidney failure
- boxed warning: risk of thyroid cancer*
- allergic reaction*
* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Side effect focus
Learn more about some of the side effects Victoza may cause.
Victoza caused thyroid tumors in animal studies. The tumors occurred at doses that are typically used in humans. In these studies, the higher the Victoza dose or the longer the treatment lasted, the more likely tumors were to occur. But animal studies don’t always predict what will happen in people.
Thyroid cancer was not reported in human studies of Victoza. Since the drug was approved, a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) has been reported with Victoza. But it’s not yet clear whether Victoza causes this or other types of thyroid cancer in humans.
If you have a personal or family history of MTC, your doctor will typically not prescribe Victoza. This drug may also not be prescribed for you if you have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (a genetic disease that causes MTC).
What might help
Before prescribing Victoza, your doctor will discuss the risks of thyroid cancer with you. Tell them right away if you feel a lump or any swelling in your throat while taking Victoza. Other symptoms to tell your doctor about right away include:
Talk with your doctor about how you can be screened for thyroid cancer while taking Victoza.
Diarrhea is a common side effect of Victoza.
What might help
Tell your doctor if you have diarrhea with Victoza. Also make sure to tell them about all other medications you’re taking. If you’re taking other drugs that can affect your kidneys, they may adjust your medications.
Eating low-fiber foods may help relieve diarrhea. Examples include bananas, toast, applesauce, and soup.
To prevent dehydration from diarrhea, you should replace your lost fluids and electrolytes (minerals). Sports drinks that contain electrolytes may help, or fruit juice that you add water to.
Some over-the-counter drugs may also treat or help prevent diarrhea. But talk with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medication with Victoza.
Nausea is a common side effect of Victoza. It occurs most often when starting the drug and tends to get better with time. Taking too much Victoza can also cause nausea.
Severe nausea can lead to vomiting, which can cause dehydration and kidney problems.
What might help
Your doctor will explain how you should start taking Victoza. To help prevent nausea and other stomach side effects, you’ll start Victoza treatment by taking a low dose for a few days.
As you continue taking Victoza daily, any nausea you have should go away with time. Then your doctor will raise your dose of Victoza.
Follow your doctor’s dosing instructions, and don’t double up on Victoza injections if you miss a dose. If you miss more than three injections of Victoza in a row, talk with your doctor. They’ll likely have you take a lower dose for a while.
A mild allergic reaction may cause a skin rash, itchiness, or flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color).
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:
- swelling under your skin, typically in your face, eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
- swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing
- fast heart rate
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Victoza. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Victoza.
Can Victoza help me with losing weight? What’s the dosage for weight loss and what’s the best time to take Victoza for weight loss?
The active ingredient in Victoza, liraglutide, can cause weight loss. But Victoza isn’t approved to be used for weight loss.
Since this isn’t an approved use of Victoza, there’s no dosage for weight loss. And there’s no best time to take Victoza for weight loss. If you’d like to learn more about how liraglutide can help with weight loss, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
How does Victoza work? And how long does it stay in your system?
Victoza’s mechanisms of action (the ways the drug works in your body) are by:
- activating a receptor (a type of protein) called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). The GLP-1 receptor is in your pancreas. When it’s activated, it releases insulin from your pancreas into your blood. This helps lower blood sugar levels.
- decreasing the release of glucagon in your blood. Glucagon is a protein that helps maintain normal blood sugar levels. By decreasing glucagon, Victoza reduces your body’s ability to raise your blood sugar levels.
- slowing down the rate at which food moves from your stomach to your intestine. This can make you feel more full after eating.
Victoza stays in your body for about 52 to 65 hours after taking a dose. But the drug’s effects don’t last this long.
Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about how Victoza works and how long it stays in your system.
How should I store Victoza? Does it need to be refrigerated?
When you get a Victoza pen, you’ll keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to start using it. It should be refrigerated at a temperature of 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C).
After you start using a pen, you can store it at room temperature (59°F to 86°F or 15°C to 30°C) for up to 30 days. You can also keep it in the refrigerator, but you should let it come to room temperature before injecting your dose.
When you’re not using your pen, keep the cap on. And keep it away from direct and excessive sunlight or heat when you’re keeping the pen at room temperature.
Don’t store Victoza with a needle attached to the pen. Storing the pen without a needle attached prevents leaking and helps keep germs from getting onto the needle.
Does Victoza cause fatigue, burping, or joint pain?
No, Victoza doesn’t cause fatigue (low energy), burping, or joint pain. These aren’t known side effects of Victoza. But if you have these symptoms while taking it, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Is Victoza used for PCOS?
Liraglutide, the active drug in Victoza, can be prescribed off-label for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Your doctor might prescribe Victoza either by itself or with metformin to help you lose weight, if you have PCOS.
Is Victoza similar to Januvia or Jardiance?
Yes, somewhat. Victoza is used in people with type 2 diabetes to help manage blood sugar levels. It’s also used to lower the risk of severe heart and blood vessel problems in adults who have heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes.
Januvia and Jardiance are two other medications used to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Jardiance can also be used to lower risk of severe heart and blood vessel problems in adults with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
All three drugs belong to different groups of diabetes drugs. Victoza comes as a solution that you inject under your skin using a pen. Januvia and Jardiance each come as tablets that you take by mouth.
If you’d like to know more about Januvia or Jardiance, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Victoza that’s right for you. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.
Form and strengths
Victoza comes as a solution in a prefilled pen. It contains 6 milligrams (mg) of liraglutide in every milliliter (mL) of solution.
Victoza is used once per day. When starting Victoza, your doctor will have you take a starting dose that’s lower than what you’ll need to manage your blood sugar levels. After a while, they’ll increase your dose. Your doctor can tell you what your maximum dose of Victoza is per day.
Starting with a lower dose helps people get used to stomach side effects that Victoza can cause, such as nausea. If you have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea with Victoza, your doctor might increase your dose very slowly.
Questions about Victoza’s dosage
- What if I miss a dose of Victoza? If you miss a daily injection of Victoza, skip the dose. The next day, you can take your usual dose at your normal time. Don’t take more than one dose of Victoza in 24 hours. If you’re unsure of what to do after missing a Victoza injection, ask your doctor or pharmacist. If you miss more than three doses in a row, talk with your doctor. You’ll likely need a lower dose of Victoza for a while.
- Will I need to use Victoza long term? Diabetes is a long-lasting medical condition. So you’ll likely take Victoza long term. Your doctor can tell you how long you’ll likely need to take it.
- How long does Victoza take to lower blood sugar levels? Victoza starts working to lower blood sugar levels within a few hours after injection. But you may only notice the long-term benefits of Victoza after several months.
You may wonder how Victoza compares with alternative drugs, such as Saxenda.
Victoza and Saxenda both contain the active ingredient liraglutide, but they’re used for different conditions. Victoza is used in people with type 2 diabetes to help manage blood sugar levels. It’s also used to lower the risk of severe heart or blood vessel problems in people with type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Saxenda is used for weight management.
See this article to learn more about the differences and similarities of Victoza and Saxenda. Read on to find out more about other drugs. Make sure to talk with your doctor about which treatment option is right for you.
Victoza vs. Ozempic
Ozempic is another diabetes medication. It’s in the same group of drugs as Victoza, called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1) agonists. And it’s given as an injection under your skin, like Victoza. But these medications contain different active drugs.
If you’d like, check out this comparison between Victoza and Ozempic.
Victoza vs. Trulicity
Trulicity is another medication used to manage blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It’s in the same group of drugs as Victoza, called GLP-1 agonists. Trulicity and Victoza are both given as an injection under your skin. But Trulicity has a different active drug.
To learn more about Victoza and Trulicity, see this detailed comparison.
Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use. To find current prices for Victoza pens in your area, visit GoodRx.com.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the Victoza manufacturer’s website to see if they have support options.
And you can check out this article to learn more about saving money on prescriptions.
Your doctor will explain how much Victoza to inject and how often. Be sure to follow their instructions.
A Victoza pen should only be used by one person.
Victoza injection sites
Victoza can be injected into the thigh, upper arm, or belly. Be sure to avoid the area around your belly button.
Taking Victoza with other drugs
Your doctor may prescribe other medications with Victoza to help you control your blood sugar. Combining medications that work in different ways can help better manage your diabetes. Some other diabetes drugs include:
It’s important to tell your doctor about all medications you’re taking with Victoza. Certain drugs can interact with Victoza. And Victoza can affect medications that you take by mouth. (See “What should be considered before taking Victoza?” below for details.)
* Taking Victoza with drugs that act directly on releasing insulin in the bloodstream, such as insulin or glyburide, increases your risk of low blood sugar levels. Due to this risk, your doctor may reduce your dose of insulin or glyburide while you’re taking Victoza.
Should I take Victoza with food? Are there foods to avoid with Victoza?
You can take Victoza with or without food. And there aren’t any foods you need to avoid while taking Victoza.
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about Victoza and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.
Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:
- Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
- How will Victoza affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
- Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
- If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.
Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.
Victoza is used in people who have type 2 diabetes. It can be used:
- to help manage blood sugar levels in adults and children 10 years and older,* along with diet and exercise
- to lower the risk of severe heart or blood vessel problems in adults who also have heart disease
Diabetes affects your metabolism. It causes high blood sugar due to problems making or using insulin in your body. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t effectively use the insulin that your pancreas produces.
Victoza works in several ways. It causes your pancreas and a certain receptor (type of protein) to release insulin. It also decreases the release of a protein that raises your blood sugar levels. (For details see “How does Victoza work?” in the “What are some frequently asked questions about Victoza?” section above.)
* Children have a higher risk of low blood sugar levels with Victoza than adults, even if they’re not taking other diabetes medications. Your child’s doctor will give you more information about this and how to help prevent low blood sugar levels.
Some important things to talk with your doctor about when considering Victoza include your overall health and all medical conditions you have. Also tell your doctor if you’re taking other medications. This is important because some drugs can affect how Victoza works.
Taking a medication with certain vaccines, foods, and other things can affect how the medication works. These effects are called interactions.
Before taking Victoza, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter types. Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Victoza.
Interactions with drugs or supplements
Victoza can interact with several types of drugs. Victoza slows down the movement of food from the stomach to the intestine, so it may interact with any medications you take by mouth. But studies didn’t show any effect on how other drugs were absorbed during Victoza treatment.
If you take any medications by mouth, ask your doctor how to space these out from your Victoza doses, if needed.
Drugs that may interact with Victoza include:
- insulin products, such as insulin degludec (Tresiba) and insulin glargine (Lantus)
- a type of diabetes drug called sulfonylureas, including glyburide (Diabeta) and glimepiride (Amaryl)
This list does not contain all types of drugs that may interact with Victoza. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about these interactions and any others that may occur with use of Victoza.
Victoza caused thyroid tumors in animal studies. But animal studies don’t always predict what will happen in people. It’s not yet clear whether Victoza causes thyroid cancer in humans.
See the “What are Victoza’s side effects?” section above for details.
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 Victoza. Factors to consider include those in the list below.
- Kidney failure. Some people taking Victoza have developed kidney failure or worsened kidney function. Kidney failure often occurred in people who had certain side effects. These included nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration (low fluid level). Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any of these side effects. Also, taking Victoza with other drugs that affect your kidneys, or that can cause dehydration, can worsen your kidney function. Tell your doctor about any other medications you’re taking. And if you have kidney problems, tell your doctor before starting Victoza. They may adjust your planned dosage.
- Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Victoza or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Victoza. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.
- Low blood sugar levels. Adults taking Victoza with certain diabetes medications can cause low blood sugar levels. These medications include glyburide (Diabeta) and insulin. Sometimes blood sugar levels may become severely low. It’s important to note that children have a higher risk of low blood sugar with Victoza even if they’re not taking other diabetes medications. Make sure to talk with your doctor about symptoms of high blood sugar to watch for.
Victoza and alcohol
Before starting Victoza, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it’s safe for you to drink alcohol. Victoza isn’t known to interact with alcohol. But alcohol can cause blood sugar to become low temporarily. This can affect how well your blood sugar levels are managed.
For details on type 2 diabetes and alcohol, talk with your doctor.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Victoza can be used during pregnancy. But it isn’t known how Victoza may affect a fetus. If you have diabetes and you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about the safest way to manage your condition.
Tell your doctor if you’re breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed while taking Victoza. It’s not known if Victoza passes into breast milk. So the risks to a child exposed to Victoza in breast milk aren’t known.
Your doctor will help you decide if the benefits of breastfeeding while taking Victoza outweigh the risks to the child.
Do not take more Victoza than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to serious side effects.
Symptoms of overdose
What to do in case you take too much Victoza
Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much Victoza. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers or use its online resource. However, if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number. Or, go to the nearest emergency room.
If you have questions about taking Victoza, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Your doctor can tell you about other treatments you can use for your condition. This overview of diabetes medications may also be helpful.
Some questions to ask your doctor about Victoza may include:
- I take medications by mouth. How should I space out taking these medications from taking my Victoza injections?
- If I’m traveling on an airplane, how should I store the Victoza pen that I’m using?
- The solution in my Victoza pen is cloudy. What should I do?
- If I lose weight while taking Victoza, should I ask my doctor about lowering my dose?
You can learn more about the uses of Victoza by subscribing to the Healthline diabetes newsletter.
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 another 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.