Saxenda (liraglutide) and Ozempic (semaglutide) are brand-name solutions for subcutaneous injection. Saxenda is approved for weight management. Doctors may prescribe Ozempic off-label for this purpose, but it’s only approved for uses related to type 2 diabetes.

This article explains the main similarities and differences between Saxenda and Ozempic. If you’re considering using one of these drugs, discussing this information with your doctor can help you decide whether one of these treatments may be right for you.

Note: For more comprehensive information about these two drugs, you can refer to our Saxenda and Ozempic articles.

Key differences between Saxenda and Ozempic

These are a few of the main differences between Saxenda and Ozempic:

  • Conditions treated: Saxenda and Ozempic can be used for weight management. While Saxenda is approved for this use, Ozempic is not. Doctors may prescribe Ozempic off-label for weight management, but the drug is only approved for uses related to type 2 diabetes. (See the “Uses of Saxenda vs. Ozempic” section.)
  • Dosage: Saxenda is used more often than Ozempic. (See the “Dosages, forms, and administration” section.)
  • Side effects: Saxenda and Ozempic may cause some of the same digestive side effects, such as nausea and vomiting. But each drug may also cause unique side effects. (See the “Side effects of Saxenda vs. Ozempic” section.)

Note: Off-label use is when doctors prescribe a drug for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.

Here’s information about the generic status of Saxenda and Ozempic, as well as details on their active ingredients.

SaxendaOzempic
Generic availablenono
Active ingredientsliraglutidesemaglutide
Drug classglucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonistGLP-1 receptor agonist

Saxenda and Ozempic have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the following uses in adults.

Doctors may prescribe Ozempic off-label to help with weight loss and long-term weight management, along with diet and exercise.

Saxenda or Ozempic and children

Saxenda is FDA-approved to help with long-term weight management in certain children. Specifically, it’s used along with diet and exercise in children ages 12 years and older who:

  • have obesity (equal to an adult BMI of 30 or higher)
  • weigh more than 60 kg (about 132 lb)

For reference, 1 kilogram (kg) is about 2.2 pounds (lb).

Ozempic is not FDA-approved for any uses in children. Your doctor can recommend whether Ozempic may be used off-label for weight loss and long-term weight management in children.

Note: For more information about the drugs’ approved uses, see our articles about Saxenda and Ozempic. To learn about Ozempic’s off-label use for weight management, see this article.

Saxenda and Ozempic are approved for different uses. Saxenda is approved for weight management. While Ozempic is sometimes prescribed off-label for this purpose, the drug is only approved for uses related to type 2 diabetes. Off-label use is when doctors prescribe a drug for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.

Both drugs come as a solution that’s given as a subcutaneous injection. Your doctor will show you or a caregiver how to inject Saxenda or Ozempic at home. You’ll inject either drug under the skin of your thigh, abdomen, or upper arm.

Saxenda is usually injected once daily, while Ozempic is injected once weekly. Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Saxenda or Ozempic that’s right for you.

For more information about dosages for the drugs’ approved uses, see our dosage articles about Saxenda and Ozempic. To learn more about Ozempic’s dosage for weight management, see the “Using Ozempic” section of this article.

Both Saxenda and Ozempic may be prescribed for weight management. (This is an off-label use for Ozempic.) These drugs can cause some of the same side effects, as well as some different ones. Some of the side effects reported in clinical trials of these drugs are mentioned below.

For more details about side effects of the two drugs, see our side effect articles about Saxenda and Ozempic. You can also refer to the Saxenda prescribing information and Ozempic prescribing information.

Mild side effects

The following table lists some of the more commonly reported mild side effects of Saxenda and Ozempic. The table may also include mild side effects that are less common but that you might have concerns about in some cases.

Mild side effectsSaxendaOzempic
diarrhea??
nausea or vomiting? ?
constipation??
headache?
indigestion? ?
dizziness? ?
abdominal pain? ?
gastroenteritis (inflammation of the intestines and stomach)?
injection site reactions, such as discoloration or discomfort around the injection area? ?

These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. If the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

The following table lists the reported serious side effects of Saxenda and Ozempic.

Serious side effectsSaxendaOzempic
suicidal thoughts or behaviors?
increased heart rate??
hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)??
pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)??
worsening of diabetic retinopathy?
acute (sudden) gallbladder disease, such as gallstones??
severe digestive problems, which may lead to dehydration and acute kidney injury??
risk of thyroid cancer*? ?

If you have serious side effects while using Saxenda or Ozempic, call your doctor immediately. If the side effects feel life threatening or you believe you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

* Saxenda and Ozempic have a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more, see the “Precautions for Saxenda and Ozempic” section below.

ALLERGIC REACTION

For some people, Saxenda or Ozempic can cause an allergic reaction. Although this side effect wasn’t reported in Ozempic’s clinical trials, it has occurred since the drug was approved.

In general, symptoms of allergic reaction can be mild or serious. You can learn more about possible symptoms in this article.

Ways to manage

For mild allergic reaction symptoms, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may recommend treatments to help manage your symptoms. They’ll also let you know whether you should keep using the medication.

For severe allergic reaction symptoms, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms require immediate medical care because they can become life threatening. If you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to Saxenda or Ozempic, your doctor may recommend taking a different medication instead.

Below are answers to some common questions about Saxenda and Ozempic.

How do Saxenda and Ozempic compare with other similar drugs, such as Wegovy and Mounjaro?

Saxenda, Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro are brand-name medications. They have some important similarities and differences.

Below are a few ways these medications compare.

SaxendaOzempicWegovyMounjaro
Active ingredientliraglutidesemaglutidesemaglutidetirzepatide
Drug classglucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonistGLP-1 receptor agonistGLP-1 receptor agonistdual glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide and GLP-1 receptor agonist
Formsolution given as a subcutaneous injectionsolution given as a subcutaneous injectionsolution given as a subcutaneous injectionsolution given as a subcutaneous injection
Approved usesto help with long-term weight management in certain adults and children? to help manage blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes
? to reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular problems in certain adults with type 2 diabetes
? to help with long-term weight management in certain adults and children
? to reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular problems in certain adults with obesity or overweight
to help manage blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes

All these drugs have a boxed warning for the risk of thyroid cancer. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more, see the “Precautions for Saxenda and Ozempic” section below.

If you have other questions about how these medications compare, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also see our articles that compare Ozempic to Mounjaro and Wegovy.

Does Saxenda or Ozempic have better weight loss results?

Whether Saxenda or Ozempic leads to better weight loss results will depend on certain factors, including how your body responds to the drug.

Your doctor can help you decide whether Saxenda or Ozempic may be a better option for weight loss.

Keep in mind that weight loss is an off-label use for Ozempic. To learn more about the uses for each drug, see the “Uses of Saxenda vs. Ozempic” section above. You can also refer to these detailed articles about Saxenda and Ozempic.

Keep reading for details about the effectiveness of Saxenda and Ozempic.

Review of studies: Saxenda has not been directly compared with Ozempic for weight management. A review of studies found that Ozempic may lead to more weight loss than Saxenda.

However, keep in mind that results of research studies may not apply to your health situation. Your doctor can help determine whether Saxenda or Ozempic may be right for you.

Prescribing information: For details about how these drugs performed in separate clinical trials, see the prescribing information for Saxenda and Ozempic. Keep in mind that trial results may not apply to your individual health situation.

Treatment guidelines: Another way to see whether a drug is considered effective is to look at treatment guidelines. When an organization includes certain drugs in treatment guidelines, this means that research has shown the drug to be safe and effective.

Guidelines from the American Gastroenterological Association recommend liraglutide (the active ingredient in Saxenda) and semaglutide (the active ingredient in Ozempic) as treatment options. They’re recommended for weight management in people with overweight or obesity. Keep in mind that weight management is an off-label use for Ozempic.

How much Saxenda or Ozempic costs depends on the treatment plan your doctor prescribes, your insurance plan, and your pharmacy. You can visit Optum Perks* for price estimates of Saxenda and Ozempic.

Both Saxenda and Ozempic are brand-name drugs. They are not currently available in generic form.

* Optum Perks is a sister site of Medical News Today.

Saxenda and Ozempic may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. The two drugs share some of the same precautions, but they also have different ones. Some of these precautions are mentioned below.

Boxed warning: Risk of thyroid cancer

Saxenda and Ozempic have a boxed warning for the risk of thyroid cancer. A boxed warning is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Animal studies have shown that using liraglutide (the active ingredient in Saxenda) or semaglutide (the active ingredient in Ozempic) may increase the risk of thyroid cancer. However, the risk of thyroid cancer in humans using Saxenda or Ozempic is not known for certain. This is because animal studies will not always predict what happens with humans.

To be safe, doctors typically won’t prescribe Saxenda or Ozempic for people with health factors that increase their risk of thyroid cancer. These include:

Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of thyroid cancer during treatment with Saxenda or Ozempic. Examples include a lump in your neck, trouble swallowing, or a hoarse voice. They may perform tests to check for thyroid cancer.

To learn more about this warning, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Precautions

In addition to boxed warnings, Saxenda and Ozempic have other warnings.

If any of the following medical conditions or other health factors are relevant to you, talk with your doctor before using Saxenda or Ozempic.

PrecautionSaxendaOzempic
if you’ve had an allergic reaction to either drug or any of its ingredients??
if you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant??
if you’re breastfeeding or thinking about breastfeeding??
if you’ve ever had pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)? ?
if you have diabetic retinopathy?
if you have kidney disease??
if you have liver disease?
if you have gastroparesis?
if you’ve ever had depression or suicidal thoughts?

Note: For more comprehensive information about these two drugs, you can refer to our Saxenda and Ozempic articles.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

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Switching between Saxenda and Ozempic might be possible.

If you’d like to know more about switching between Saxenda and Ozempic, talk with your doctor. They can give you additional details and help determine the best course of action for your personal situation. Even if two drugs treat the same condition or are in the same drug class, your body can still respond differently.

It’s important that you do not stop, start, or switch any of your drug treatments without your doctor’s recommendation.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today 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.