The Independent Pharmacy

Saxenda vs Ozempic: How Do These Weight Loss Treatments Compare

Daniel Hurley
Daniel HurleyMPharm IPPharmacist Independent Prescriber

Reviewed on 11 Oct 2023

Navigating the world of weight loss solutions can be overwhelming, and it's okay to feel that way. Remember, everyone's journey is unique. Take a deep breath. Help is available whether you’re grappling with obesity, managing type 2 diabetes, or just aiming to lose some weight. In this article, we focus on two promising prescription medications: Saxenda and Ozempic.

They’ve helped many people achieve weight loss and improve their overall health. We’ll guide you through how these medications work, what to expect, and how they differ. So, come along.

Let’s explore the benefits of Saxenda and Ozempic.

How Do Saxenda and Ozempic Compare?

Saxenda, with its active ingredient liraglutide, and Ozempic, with its main ingredient semaglutide both assist with weight loss. However, there are key differences between the two medications. Let's compare them across several factors:

Comparison Points Saxenda Ozempic
Active Ingredient Liraglutide Semaglutide
Who Can Use Approved for chronic
weight management in obese
or overweight adults with at
least one weight-related condition.
Approved for type 2 diabetes.
Effectiveness 5-10% weight loss over 1 year. 12-15% weight loss over 68 weeks.
Speed of Working Noticeable differences within
3-6 weeks.
Initial weight loss within 1-2 weeks,
with full effects in 2-3 months.
Ease of Use Requires a daily injection. Requires a weekly injection.
Dosage Starts at 0.6 mg daily, increased
to 3 mg daily over 5 weeks.
Weekly dose of 1 mg, can be increased
to 1.7 or 2 mg if needed.
Side Effects Nausea, diarrhoea, constipation,
vomiting, low blood sugar, increased
heart rate.
Nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting,
constipation, low blood sugar.
Usage Recommendations Combine with diet and exercise,
adhere to proper injection
techniques, and stay hydrated.
Pair with healthy eating and
exercise, follow prescribed dosing
schedules, and rotate injection sites
weekly.
Key Difference Requires daily dosing. Requires weekly dosing and generally
leads to slightly more weight loss.

Who Can Use

Saxenda

Saxenda is approved by the NHS for chronic weight management in obese adults or overweight adults with at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol. It should be used along with diet and exercise, not as a standalone weight loss solution. It's important to note that Saxenda might not be suitable for everyone, especially those with a personal or family history of specific medical conditions. Always consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best approach for you.

Ozempic

Ozempic is currently only approved for improving blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes in the UK. However, there are alternatives for chronic weight management, such as Wegovy, which has the same active ingredient semaglutide. Since it helps lower blood sugar and A1C (a test that measures average blood sugar over 2-3 months) levels, it may benefit obese patients with or without diabetes. However, it has not been studied long-term for weight loss specifically. As with Saxenda, Ozempic requires complementary lifestyle changes to be effective.

Effectiveness

Saxenda

Clinical trials have shown that Saxenda can be effective for many, but it's essential to remember that individual results can vary. Everyone's body and circumstances are different.

One 56-week study compared obese and overweight patients taking Saxenda to those taking placebo. The Saxenda group lost an average of 8% of their body weight compared to 2.6% in the placebo group. Over 60% of those taking Saxenda lost ≥5% of their initial weight.

At the same trial, more than 14% of patients in the Saxenda group lost 15% of their body weight on average, compared to 3.5% for placebo. Total weight loss was more than 6 kilograms greater with Saxenda. The effects persisted for the study duration among those who adhered to the treatment regimen.

Ozempic

Like Saxenda, Ozempic works by activating GLP-1 receptors, which increase insulin production and suppress appetite. By slowing digestion, Ozempic helps you feel full longer, which can help you eat fewer calories.

In studies, people using Ozempic lost more weight than those who didn’t take the medication. People taking Ozempic lost an average of 12-15% of their starting body weight over 68 weeks.

In a 2-year clinical trial, Ozempic helped overweight or obese patients with type 2 diabetes lose a mean of 12 pounds compared to placebo when following a reduced-calorie meal plan.

83% of the Ozempic group lost at least 5% more body weight than 32% of those who received placebo. Patients on Ozempic also saw greater improvements in blood sugar levels and HbA1c (a test that measures average blood sugar over 2-3 months) compared to the control group.

However, Ozempic has not been studied specifically for long-term weight loss in a dedicated trial. The available results demonstrate weight loss as a secondary benefit for diabetes control rather than the primary outcome.

Speed of weight loss

Saxenda

Most patients taking Saxenda as prescribed can expect to see noticeable differences on the scale within 3-6 weeks. However, it may take longer for the appetite suppression effects to fully develop. Maximum weight loss results are typically achieved after 3-6 months of consistent Saxenda dosing and lifestyle interventions.

Ozempic

Similarly, most patients taking Ozempic can expect initial weight loss and blood sugar improvements within 1-2 weeks of starting weekly injections. But it may take up to 2-3 months to experience the full effects on blood glucose, insulin levels, and weight.

Ease of Use

Saxenda

With Saxenda you have to give yourself a shot under the skin once every day. This can seem like a hassle compared to just popping a pill. But Saxenda comes in a pre-filled, easy-to-use pen that is simple to learn how to inject properly. You can even have a family member or friend help give the injections if needed.

Having to take Saxenda every day means you'll always need to remember your daily dose. You can't skip days. You'll also need to bring your Saxenda pen if you travel or are away from home for long periods. But taking it daily provides your body a steady amount of the drug.

Ozempic

Only needing one injection per week makes Ozempic more convenient for most people. The pre-filled Ozempic pen also makes it easy to self-inject with minimal training or assistance.

Taking Ozempic weekly allows more flexibility in your schedule. If you miss or forget a dose, you can more easily get back on track with your next planned injection. However, it takes 2-3 weeks for Ozempic to fully leave your body if you have to stop treatment quickly for any reason.

Dosage

Saxenda

The recommended starting dosage of Saxenda is 0.6 mg, injected just under the skin once daily. The dose can be increased gradually over 5 weeks up to 3 mg daily, the standard weight loss dosage. Saxenda should be taken at the same time each day, ideally before the first meal.

Ozempic

The recommended weekly dose for most people taking Ozempic is 1 mg injected under the skin. The doctor may have them increase to 1.7 or 2 mg weekly to improve the weight loss treatment. Taking higher doses of Ozempic generally results in more weight loss though can be associated with more side effects. The final maintanance dose will be decided with you and your doctor.

Side Effects

Saxenda

While many people tolerate Saxenda well, some might experience side effects. It's essential to listen to your body and communicate any concerns with your healthcare provider

The most common adverse effects include:

  • Nausea - Occurs in up to 40% of patients, especially when first starting Saxenda. Taking the injection with food or at bedtime may help.
  • Diarrhea - Reported in up to 20% of users. Staying hydrated can help manage diarrhoea.
  • Constipation - About 20% of Saxenda patients experience constipation. Increasing fibre and fluid intake helps.
  • Vomiting - Around 10% of people taking Saxenda experience vomiting. Taking anti-nausea medication helps control vomiting.
  • Hypoglycemia - Saxenda can lower your blood sugar too much, especially if you’re also taking other diabetes medications like insulin. Checking your blood sugar regularly can prevent low blood sugar levels.
  • Pancreatitis - There is a risk of developing inflammation of the pancreas, a condition known as pancreatitis while using Saxenda. Seek medical attention for persistent stomach pain.
  • Increased Heart Rate - Saxenda may temporarily increase heart rate after dosing. Report palpitations or fast heartbeat to your doctor.

In clinical trials, side effects were mild to moderate and often decreased over time. Discuss any persistent or concerning reactions with your healthcare provider.

Ozempic

Like other weight loss medications, Ozempic may cause certain side effects, including:

  • Nausea - Up to 20% of patients experience nausea, especially when starting Ozempic. Taking the dose with food may help.
  • Diarrhoea - Approximately 12% of Ozempic users report diarrhoea. Staying hydrated can help manage symptoms.
  • Vomiting - Around 9% of people taking Ozempic experience vomiting. Anti-nausea medication helps control vomiting.
  • Constipation - Roughly 7% of patients report constipation on Ozempic. Increasing fibre and fluid intake alleviates constipation.
  • Hypoglycemia - Ozempic can also lower your blood sugar, especially if you take it with insulin or other specific medications. Check glucose levels regularly.
  • Pancreatitis - There is a slight risk of developing pancreatitis while using Ozempic. Seek immediate medical care for severe stomach pain.
  • Increased Heart Rate - Some people may experience a temporary rise in heart rate after Ozempic doses. Contact your doctor if palpitations persist.

In clinical studies, side effects with Ozempic were generally mild to moderate and decreased over time with continued usage. However, advise your doctor of any concerning or severe reactions.

Usage Recommendations

Saxenda

While Saxenda can be a helpful tool, pairing it with positive lifestyle changes can enhance its effectiveness. Remember, it's about finding a balance that works for you, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach. At The Independent Pharmacy, we understand that making these changes can be challenging, but they are crucial steps in your weight loss journey. Eating fewer calories and increasing physical activity levels maximises weight loss. On average, people using Saxenda may experience a weight loss of 5-10% over 3-6 months. It’s important to remember that everyone’s body responds differently, and it’s okay if your progress takes time.

Here are a few tips to help you use Saxenda more effectively and comfortably:

  • Adhering to proper injection techniques to avoid side effects. It's recommended to change the injection site each day to prevent skin irritation and ensure effective absorption of the medication
  • Closely following prescribed dosing schedules. Don’t skip or double up doses.
  • Pairing Saxenda with a nutritious, low-calorie diet and regular exercise for enhanced weight loss.
  • Staying well hydrated to manage temporary GI side effects like nausea or constipation.

Ozempic

Ozempic tends to be more effective when paired with positive lifestyle changes like healthier eating and increased physical activity. We know that change is hard, but every small step counts. Keep in mind that your results may differ based on your personal health and lifestyle.

Some tips for maximising weight loss with Ozempic include:

  • Closely following prescribed dosing schedules. Do not miss doses.
  • Pairing with calorie-controlled, nutritious meals and regular exercise.
  • Staying hydrated to manage temporary GI side effects.
  • Rotating injection sites with each weekly dose to minimise irritation.

What’s the Difference Between Saxenda and Ozempic?

One key difference between Saxenda and Ozempic is the frequency of injections. Saxenda requires daily injections, while Ozempic is a weekly commitment. This difference could impact your decision, depending on your lifestyle and comfort with injections.

In studies, Ozempic led to slightly more weight loss than Saxenda. People lost 12-15% of body weight on Ozempic compared to 5-10% on Saxenda.

Both medications can cause side effects like nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting. But Saxenda’s daily dosing means side effects may happen more often.

While Ozempic can be started at its full dosage, Saxenda requires a process called 'titration', where the dose is gradually increased over several weeks to allow the body to adjust

Overall, Ozempic and Saxenda are quite similar medications for diabetes and obesity treatment. The weekly vs. daily dosing schedule is the most noticeable difference.

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Can You Take Ozempic and Saxenda Together?

For your safety, healthcare providers generally advise against using Saxenda and Ozempic simultaneously, as combining them could lead to complications. Both medications work to regulate blood sugar levels. Taking them together can lead to complications if blood sugar drops too low.

Using Saxenda and Ozempic concurrently may also spike serious side effects and increase rare risks like pancreatitis.

The same class of medication should not be doubled up on. If considering switching between Saxenda and Ozempic, it is important to do so carefully under your doctor’s guidance.

People Also Ask

When comparing Saxenda and Ozempic, you may have questions about which medication is more effective for weight loss and diabetes treatment. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions from people like you:

Is Saxenda better than Ozempic for weight loss?

Both Saxenda and Ozempic effectively promote weight loss, but Ozempic generally leads to greater average weight reduction. In clinical trials, people lost 12-15% of body weight on Ozempic versus 5-10% on Saxenda over 1 year.

Why is Saxenda better than Ozempic?

Saxenda is not necessarily better than Ozempic. Ozempic tends to produce greater weight loss on average. Some benefits of Saxenda may include more dosing flexibility with daily usage and no need to titrate dosage up. But overall, neither medication is clearly superior for all patients.

What is better than Saxenda for weight loss?

Some alternatives that may work better than Saxenda for some people can include phentermine, Qsymia, Mysimba, semaglutide pills, or bariatric surgery options like gastric bypass. However, results vary based on the individual. Consult your doctor to determine the most effective weight loss options for your profile.

Conclusion

If you're facing challenges in your weight management journey, know that you're not alone. Many face similar struggles, and it's okay to seek support and explore different solutions. The array of treatment options can be dizzying, but there’s good news. Both Saxenda and Ozempic offer promising paths for those looking for medical help. Remember, everyone’s health situation and weight loss goals are different. That’s why it’s essential to talk to your healthcare provider to figure out which medication is the right fit for you.

So, what do these medications actually do? Both Saxenda and Ozempic work by activating something called GLP-1 receptors. This helps control your blood sugar and reduces your appetite. Studies show that both medications can lead to meaningful weight loss. Ozempic might have a slight advantage in terms of the average weight you could lose, but both have similar side effects. Nausea is the most common one you might experience.

Now, let’s talk about how often you need to take these medications. Saxenda requires a daily injection, whereas you’d only need to inject Ozempic once a week. This could mean that you might experience side effects more frequently with Saxenda.

The next step? Have a candid conversation with your doctor. They can offer personalised advice on how to use the medication, what dose to take, and how to manage any side effects. With their guidance, medications like Saxenda and Ozempic can become powerful allies in your quest for long-term weight control and better health.

You’re not on this journey alone. Help is available, and you have options to reach your weight loss goals.

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