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Saxenda vs Wegovy: Which Weight Loss Injection Is Right For You?

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Saxenda vs Wegovy: Which Weight Loss Injection Is Right For You?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Saxenda and Wegovy are GLP-1 medications that are FDA-approved for weight loss in people with overweight and obesity. They work by slowing the rate of gastric emptying, which helps regulate appetite. 
  • Saxenda is a once-daily injection containing the active ingredient liraglutide, while Wegovy is a once-weekly injection with the active ingredient semaglutide. 
  • Clinical trials show Wegovy may be more effective for weight loss, with participants losing more weight over a 68-week period.

If you’re on a weight management journey, you may have heard about GLP-1 medications, including Saxenda and Wegovy. 

These medications are both FDA-approved for weight loss in people with overweight and obesity, in conjunction with a diet and exercise plan.

Though they are in the same class of drugs, Wegovy and Saxenda contain different active ingredients and doses. 

Continue reading to learn more about the similarities and differences between Saxenda and Wegovy and to find the right option for you. 

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Saxenda vs Wegovy

Saxenda and Wegovy are both in a class of medications called GLP-1 receptor agonists.

Novo Nordisk manufactures both of these drugs, which are approved for use in treating overweight and obesity. 

These medications work by targeting glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a hormone in the body that helps with appetite regulation.

As a result, GLP-1 drugs slow the rate of stomach emptying, helping you stay full longer and regulating the blood sugar and insulin response after eating. 

The primary difference between Saxenda and Wegovy is they contain different active ingredients.

Though they are both GLP-1 medications, they may produce different weight loss results and side effects because of this. 

What Is Saxenda?

Saxenda is a once-daily injectable GLP-1 medication containing the active ingredient liraglutide.

It was approved by the FDA in 2014 for weight loss in people with overweight and obesity. 

Saxenda is meant to be taken in conjunction with a diet and exercise plan for weight loss.

Saxenda was the first GLP-1 medication to be approved for weight management purposes.

Saxenda has the same active ingredient (liraglutide) as Victoza, a type 2 diabetes medication. 

What Is Wegovy?

Wegovy is the brand name for semaglutide, a once-weekly injectable GLP-1 medication for people with overweight or obesity. 

Like Saxenda, doctors recommend making diet and lifestyle changes to maximize the benefit of Wegovy.

The FDA approved Wegovy as a weight loss medication in 2021. It was the first drug approved for treating obesity since 2014 when Saxenda entered the market. 

Wegovy contains the same active ingredient (semaglutide) as Ozempic and Rybelsus, which are GLP-1 medications for treating type 2 diabetes.

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Similarities and Differences Between Saxenda and Wegovy 

Saxenda and Wegovy have many similarities because they are both GLP-1 medications.

However, because they don’t contain the same active ingredient, there are some differences in how they work.  

Active Ingredients  

Wegovy contains semaglutide as its active ingredient.

Semaglutide has a half-life of 165 hours, meaning one dose works for approximately seven days.

This is why Wegovy is a once-weekly injection. 

Saxenda contains the active ingredient liraglutide, which has a much shorter half-life of 13-15 hours.

As a result, Saxenda is a daily injection. 

Both semaglutide and liraglutide mimic the natural GLP-1 hormone in the body, but drug manufacturers replaced an amino acid in semaglutide to give it a longer half-life. 

Approved Uses  

Wegovy and Saxenda are both approved for weight management in the following populations:

  • Adults with obesity (BMI ≥ 30).
  • Overweight adults (BMI ≥ 27) who have a condition such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. 

These medications are also approved for weight management in children 12 years or older, but have slightly different criteria between the two:

  • Wegovy: BMI ≥ 95th percentile for age and sex.
  • Saxenda: Body weight over 132 pounds (60 kg) and obesity. 

Dosage and Administration 

Saxenda is a daily injection that you administer from a pre-filled pen.

You can inject it into your abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. 

Saxenda is available in five different doses ranging from 0.6 mg to 3.0 mg.

Doctors recommend starting at the lowest dose and increasing it once weekly until reaching the recommended dose of 3 mg.

Slowly increasing the dosage helps minimize your side effects. 

Wegovy is administered in the same way, except it is given weekly, not daily.

Five dose options range from 0.25 mg to 2.4 mg.

To reduce the risk of side effects, increase your dose every four weeks

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Side Effects 

Because of how GLP-1 medications slow the rate of stomach emptying, many of the side effects are digestive.

Wegovy and Saxenda can both cause: 

  • Nausea and vomiting. 
  • Diarrhea. 
  • Constipation.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Gastroenteritis (stomach flu).
  • Headache. 
  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness. 

Additionally, Wegovy may cause the following side effects: 

  • Bloating.
  • Belching.
  • Gas. 
  • Heartburn. 
  • Runny nose. 
  • Sore throat.

Saxenda may also result in: 

  • Injection site reaction. 
  • Changes in lipase (an enzyme) levels in blood.
  • Fever (in children).

Both Saxenda and Wegovy can lead to rare, more serious side effects, like pancreatitis or kidney issues.

Talk to your doctor about risks and warning signs to look for when starting one of these medications.  

Effectiveness for Weight Loss

A 2022 phase three clinical trial compared the maximum doses of the two medications and found Wegovy to be more effective.

After 68 weeks of treatment, those on Saxenda lost 6.4% of their body weight compared with 15.8% on Wegovy.

A 2023 study compared the weight loss results from the clinical trials on Saxenda and Wegovy and had a similar conclusion.

Participants taking liraglutide (Saxenda) lost 5.4% of their body weight after 56 weeks of treatment.

Those taking semaglutide (Wegovy) lost 12.4% of their body weight in 68 weeks.

The clinical trials on Wegovy and Saxenda included diet and lifestyle changes for weight management.

Talk to a Nourish registered dietitian for tips on maximizing your results on these medications. 

Choosing Between Saxenda or Wegovy: Factors to Consider  

If you qualify for both medications, there are a few considerations to take when deciding whether to choose Saxenda or Wegovy.

Talk to your doctor about personal preference, insurance coverage, and other conditions the medications may help, like type 2 diabetes. 

Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes Status

The active ingredients in Saxenda and Wegovy are present in other brand-name GLP-1 medications at lower doses for treating type 2 diabetes.

Victoza contains liraglutide at 1.8 mg and Ozempic contains semaglutide at 0.5 mg and 1 mg doses. 

These lower doses have not been proven as effective for weight loss, so talk to your doctor about the best dose for you if you are taking a GLP-1 for diabetes and weight management. 

Cost and Insurance Coverage 

If your doctor says Saxenda and Wegovy are both options for you, talk to your insurance about coverage differences between the two medications.

This way, you can determine the most affordable option before getting a prescription.

If your insurance doesn’t cover GLP-1 medications for weight loss, Saxenda and Wegovy have similar out-of-pocket costs.

You can expect to pay around $1,300-1,400 per month for these medications. 

Personal Preferences and Adherence 

Because Saxenda is a daily injection and Wegovy is a weekly injection, you may prefer one over the other.

If you dislike giving yourself shots, Wegovy would involve significantly fewer injections. 

On the other hand, you may find it easier to build a habit around a daily injection rather than trying to remember it once per week. 

Other Medications Being Taken

You should not take Wegovy if you are on any medications that contain semaglutide or if you already take a different GLP-1 receptor agonist drug.

Similarly, avoid taking Saxenda if you are on any medicines containing liraglutide. 

The drug manufacturer also recommends against taking Wegovy and Saxenda alongside with other prescription or over-the-counter weight loss drugs. 

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Alternative Weight Loss Options

If Saxenda and Wegovy aren’t options for you based on insurance coverage, talk to your doctor about other GLP-1 medications that may be prescribed off-label for weight loss.

Examples like Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Trulicity may be covered by your insurance if you have type 2 diabetes. 

As with any weight management plan, diet and lifestyle changes can help you meet your health goals.

Takeaway

Saxenda and Wegovy are both GLP-1 medications that are FDA-approved for weight management in individuals with overweight and obesity.

They are meant to be used in addition to making diet and lifestyle changes. 

Saxenda is a once-daily injection containing liraglutide, while Wegovy is a once-weekly injection made from semaglutide.

The medications work similarly by regulating your appetite, blood sugar, and insulin levels. 

Talk to your doctor about which medication is the best for you based on your medical history, insurance coverage, and personal preference. 

Managing Weight Loss with a Dietitian

You can enhance the benefits of a GLP-1 medication for weight loss by building a healthy diet and lifestyle habits.

A registered dietitian can create a plan for you and help you manage any digestive side effects of the drug. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you lose more weight with Saxenda or Wegovy?

Clinical trials show that Wegovy is more effective for weight loss.

A 2022 phase three clinical trial compared weight loss outcomes between participants who took a once-daily 3.0 mg dose of liraglutide (Saxenda) and those on a once-weekly 2.4 mg dose of semaglutide (Wegovy). 

After 68 weeks, the Saxenda group lost 6.4% of their body weight compared with a 15.8% weight loss in the Wegovy group.

What works better than Saxenda?

Saxenda (liraglutide) is a GLP-1 medication prescribed for weight loss.

Clinical trials show that Wegovy, a different GLP-1 medication approved in 2021 for weight loss, may be more effective. 

Wegovy contains a different active ingredient, semaglutide, and comes as a once-weekly injection.

A 2022 clinical trial comparing the maximum doses of the two medications found that those taking Wegovy lost 15.8% of their body weight, while the Saxenda group only lost 6.4%.

What is the most effective weight loss injection?

Of the two injectable GLP-1 medications that are FDA-approved for weight loss, Wegovy is the most effective.

Clinical trials show that people who took Wegovy and changed their diet and lifestyle lost 15.8% of their body weight over 68 weeks. 

On the other hand, those who took Saxenda for the same amount of time lost 6.4% of their body weight.

References

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