There is an increasing prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes despite several government led interventions and diets. This clearly shows that knowledge of healthy eating and increasing activity does not help. There has been an exponential increase in research looking into effective weight loss medications such as Saxenda®. People have different hunger pattern, metabolism and genes and hence any new medication may not be suitable to every one.

As previous weight loss interventions have not been successful or success has not been sustained, people look for newer medications. There been a huge interest in the medication called Semaglutide following an article in the BBC website. 

People are keen to know what Semaglutide is and how it is different from another injection called Saxenda®?


What is Saxenda®?

Saxenda® is the trade name for Liraglutide 3mg and is licensed for weight loss. Victoza is the trade name for Liraglutide and is licensed for Type 2 diabetes and a lower dose is used.

Liraglutide mimics the naturally produced hormone called GLP-1(Glucagon Like Peptide-1), which is produced by the lining of the intestines. GLP-1 stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin, reduces appetite and also slows the movement of food in the intestines.

What is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide is not the trade name but the actual name of the medication. Semaglutide is current licensed for the management of the 2 diabetes under the trade name Ozempic®. Semaglutide for type 2 diabetes is available as an injection and tablet.

Recent research shows Semaglutide is also effective in weight loss. To know more about Semaglutide, read the article “All about Ozempic®“.

What is the difference between Saxenda® (Liraglutide 3mg) and Semaglutide?

  1. Both liraglutide and Semaglutide are GLP-1 analogues, which means they behave like the naturally produced hormone called Glucagon Like Peptide(GLP-1). However Semaglutide has a longer duration of action.
  2. Semaglutide is not yet licensed for weight loss. When semaglutide is licensed for weight loss, the trade name would be different and it would not be called Ozempic®. While Semaglutide (which is in Ozempic) is currently an off-label treatment for weight management, NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) in the United Kingdom recommended it for obesity treatment in February 2022. This means that Semaglutide (marketed as Wegovy) will soon be licensed and will no longer need to be prescribed off-label.
  3. Semglutide is a once weekly injection. Liraglutide 3mg(Saxenda®) injection has to be given every day. This because Semaglutide has a longer duration of action in the body.
  4. Research shows that Semaglutide is more effective in improving blood glucose control and weight loss compared to Liraglutide.
  5. The dose of Semaglutide for type 2 diabetes is a maximum of 1mg where as the dose used in research for weight loss was 2.4mg.
  6. There was more side effects with Semaglutide when compared to liraglutide, especially nausea and diarrhoea.
  7. We still do not know what the cost of Semaglutide would be for weight loss.

This article will be updated as we get more information

Always consult a diabetes specialist or endocrinologist when starting any weight loss medication or when altering the dosage.

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Dr C. Rajeswaran FRCP(UK);MSc
Consultant Physician
Obesity, Diabetes & Endocrinology