Ozempic vs. Victoza

Authored by The Rx Advocates, / Medically Reviewed by Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS
Last Updated: August 4, 2022

Early treatments for type 2 diabetes typically use oral medication coupled with a suggested diet and exercise regimen. More recently, oral medication has been replaced by drugs that can be injected under the skin. 

Ozempic and Victoza are two injectable medications that have been successful in treating the symptoms of diabetes in patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. These medications can also reduce other more serious risk factors. A physician can help individual patients decide which is the best medication for them.

 

Similarities between Ozempic and Victoza 

  • Both Ozempic and Victoza are injectable GLP-1 agonists that help with blood sugar management while reducing the risk factors that cause heart and chronic kidney disease.
  • Both have reported weight loss during use.
  • Neither interact with any food and may be taken with or without food.
  • Initially, both medications may cause nausea or intestinal discomfort, but these symptoms usually subside after a few weeks.
  • Both may be used alone or with other diabetes medications as approved by a physician.
  • Both may cause side effects such as pancreatitis, kidney problems, hypoglycemia, allergic reactions, and thyroid cancer.
  • Both are currently only available as brand-name medication and may be expensive.

 

Differences between Ozempic and Victoza

  • Victoza is injected under the skin daily while Ozempic is administered once a week.
  • Victoza has been approved for children 10 years old and up.
  • Ozempic has been reported to have slightly better results lowering blood sugar and contributing to weight loss than Victoza.
  • Ozempic is more likely to cause side effects that cause patients to stop treatment.

 

Side Effects of Ozempic and Victoza

Serious side effects are not common and the benefits outweigh the minor discomforts. Those using any diabetic medication should be closely monitored by their physician who can determine if a patient should discontinue the use of the medication.

Possible side effects of Ozempic are: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Stomach upset
  • Constipation
  • Flatulence (passing gas)

Possible side effects of Victoza are:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite

These side effects usually subside in a few days or a couple of weeks. The prescribing physician should be consulted if side effects become more severe or do not go away.

 

Common Diabetes Medications

Short- or long-term insulin, usually injected, is the most common treatment for type 1 diabetes.

There are several types of medications used to manage type 2 diabetes, in both tablet form and injection.

Following is a list of common diabetic medications:

  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors break down starchy foods and sugar.
  • Biguanides decrease how much sugar is produced by the liver. The biguanide Metformin is often the first line of defense for a newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic.
  • Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors help the pancreas produce more insulin.
  • Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists increase how much insulin is used by the body, delays stomach emptying, and decreases appetite.
  • Meglitinides help the body release insulin (but may cause blood sugar levels that are too low).
  • Sulfonylureas stimulates the pancreas to make more insulin.
  • Thiazolidinediones decreases glucose in the liver and encourages fat cells to use insulin more efficiently.

 

Description and Symptoms of Types of Diabetes

The term diabetes refers to a disease that affects how the body processes blood sugar, known as glucose. The body requires glucose which provides energy to muscles and tissue cells and fuels the brain. Too much sugar in the blood, however, can lead to many health problems, some of which are quite serious.

The body receives glucose from what we eat and is also produced by and stored in the liver. When the body has not received glucose from food, the liver gives up some of the stored glucose to help the body maintain a normal glucose level. Once sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, insulin helps it enter the cells.

The main function of the pancreas is to produce the proper amount of insulin to regulate blood glucose levels. Sometimes the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to regulate glucose levels or the body does not utilize the insulin which results in a form of diabetes.

There are three main classifications of diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are considered chronic and there are treatments used to help the body process glucose and hopefully prevent other diabetes-related complications.

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and symptoms often disappear once the baby is delivered. The mother and child of a diabetic pregnancy may develop Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Prediabetes is a condition that occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than recommended but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Prediabetes is considered reversible with care and treatment. Often the condition can be reversed with a change in one’s diet, increased exercise, and weight loss.

 

Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes types 1 and 2 have similar symptoms but different causes and risk factors.

Symptoms in both types may be:

  • Extreme hunger
  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue and/or irritability
  • Blurry vision
  • Slow healing
  • Recurring skin or vaginal infections
  • Excess ketones in the urine (caused by the breakdown of fat and muscle when not enough insulin is produced)

Diabetes is detected through a blood test that measures A1c levels (estimated glucose) in the blood over the previous 3 months. Doctors prefer the levels to be below 5.7% and a patient is considered prediabetic if levels are between 5.7% and 6.4 %. Those with numbers above 6.4% are considered diabetic, requiring treatment.

 

Type 1 Diabetes

Years ago, type 1 diabetes was referred to as “juvenile diabetes” because it often appeared during childhood or adolescence, though it can develop at any age. Type 1 may be considered an autoimmune disorder because the immune system treats insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as harmful invaders and attacks them.

With little or no insulin detected, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of being used by muscle and fat cells. Weight is not considered to be a factor in the development of type 1 diabetes and many patients mark a significant weight loss before diagnosis.

 

Type 2 Diabetes 

Type 2 diabetes is more common and can also develop at any age, though it is more common in those over 40. In the type 2 diabetic, either the cells have become resistant to the insulin produced by the pancreas or the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin allowing sugar to build up in the bloodstream.

Many factors contribute to the type 2 condition, such as:

  • Being overweight
  • Inactivity
  • Genetics (predisposition) or family history
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Elevated triglycerides (which can cause inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Ethnicity
  • Environmental factors and geography
  • Age

 

Risk Factors and Complications for Diabetes

Diagnosis of diabetes does not mean the patient merely has to watch the consumption of sugar or carbohydrates. That is an important factor but careful attention should be paid to lifestyle alteration and following a doctor prescribed plan which may include medication. Left untreated or undertreated It may result in more serious conditions or complications, some of which are life-threatening.

Some complications are:

  • Cardiovascular disease including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol carry a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage) can cause numbness, a tingling or burning sensation, or pain in the extremities. Neuropathy usually affects arms and legs but some men have experienced erectile dysfunction. Those with neuropathy may not receive normal pain signals to alert them to cuts or blisters that have become severely infected and require amputation.
  • Nephropathy (kidney damage). The kidneys work hard to filter the blood but diabetes can damage the kidneys which may lead to kidney failure and end-stage kidney disease requiring dialysis or the need for a kidney transplant.
  • Retinopathy (eye damage) is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina which can lead to blindness. Incidents of cataracts and glaucoma are also increased in diabetics.
  • Diabetes may also cause a myriad of skin conditions including dry skin, rashes, and bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Chronic dehydration is often experienced by diabetics. It is important to drink plenty of water to help kidney function and cell and skin health.

 

How to Save Money on your Ozempic or Victoza Prescriptions

If your doctor has prescribed either Ozempic (semaglutide) or Victoza (liraglutide), we at The Rx Advocates can help you save on your monthly prescription. Name brand medications can be expensive and paying for those medications can be a great concern.

We have helped people save hundreds of dollars every month on Ozempic and Victoza as well as other diabetes medications.

At The Rx Advocates, we specialize in helping to make our patients’ monthly prescription medications more affordable. We work with patient assistance programs to get discounts for our patients. The patient only pays for our services. Their medications are delivered to them at no additional cost. Please contact us today.

 

Sources:

The Mayo Clinic. Diabetes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms- causes/sync-20371444. 2021. 

The American Diabetes Association (ADA). Understanding Type 2 Diabetes. https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes. 2021.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA). Understanding A1c. https://www.diabetes.org/a1c.

2021.

Medical News Today. How the Pancreas Works. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/ articles/325018. 2021.

American Diabetic Association (ADA). Gestational Diabetes. https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/ gestational-diabetes. 2021.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Diabetes: The Surprising Truth About Prediabetes. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/truth-about-prediabetes.html. 2021

Healthline. A Complete List of Diabetic Medications.  https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes medications-list#type-2-diabetes. 2021.

Medical News Today. Ozempic. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326252. 2021.

Medical News Today. Ozempic Side Effects. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/ 326252#side-effects. 2021.

Medical News Today. Victoza. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326814. 2021.

Medical News Today. Victoza Side Effects. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/

326814#side_effects. 2021.

The Rx Advocates Medication List. https://therxadvocates.com/prescriptions.

The Rx Advocates. https://therxadvocates.com/.

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