Victoza, Trulicity, and Saxenda are injectable non-insulin medications used to treat high blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Each of these medications is part of a class referred to as GLP-1 agonists. If you need medication to combat these symptoms, it helps to know the difference between Victoza, Trulicity, and Saxenda.
HOW GLP-1 Agonists Work
GLP-1 stands for glucagon-like peptide, which is a type of hormone that is lower than average in individuals with type 2 diabetes. GLP-1 agonists are an incretin mimetic, which is a classification of drugs that help the pancreas release the optimal amount of insulin. The body relies on insulin because it transports glucose to body tissues where it is used for energy. Insulin also slows the rate at which food leaves a person’s stomach. GLP-1 agonists help to mimic similar impacts on the following organs:
- GLP-1 agonists transmit a signal to the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain responsible for appetite and thirst. By controlling these urges, taking GLP-1 agonists frequently results in weight loss. Because GLP-1 agonists decrease the sensation to drink, however, people should take care to make sure they drink an adequate amount of water to stay hydrated.
- GLP-1 stimulates the creation of glucose in the body, which involves the conversion of fats to sugars, which the body uses for fuel. Increasing this process helps to lower blood sugars.
- Liver- GLP-1 agonists lower glucose output in the liver, which also reduces blood sugars.
- When GLP-1 agonists interact with glucose, the pancreas secretes more insulin which lowers the amount of glycogen in the blood. GLP-1 agonists also decrease the secretion of glucagon, which is a hormone that prevents blood sugar levels from dipping to dangerously low levels.
- GLP-1 decreases the secretion of acid in the stomach and increases the rate at which food empties from the stomach. This increases the sensation of fullness, which can reduce how much a person ends up eating or drinking.
Trulicity and Type 2 Diabetes
First approved in 2014, Trulicity is the brand name for dulaglutide. Truclity is not a recommended first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes. Despite this, when combined with a proper diet and adequate exercise, Trulicity can improve glycemic control. Administered via injection on a once a week basis, Trulicity comes in the form of either a single-dose pen or prefilled syringe.
The Role of Victoza/Saxenda
Victoza was first approved in 2010. Used as an injectable, the medication can improve blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes. In contrast to Trulicity, Victoza can also be used to decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes in adults with heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Administered weekly, the medication is often begun at a low dosage and increased as needed.
Both Victoza and Saxenda contain the same Liraglutide molecule. The Liraglutide molecule can treat type 2 diabetes and promote weight loss in certain patients.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends Victoza to combat lower blood sugar levels in combination with diet, exercise, and other diabetes medicines. Victoza is not recommended as a first-line choice for diabetes type II but instead is only recommended for patients needing supplemental treatment to other diabetic medications.
The higher dose Saxenda is designed for weight loss, but Victoza is acknowledged as having weight loss as an associated side effect. The FDA approves Saxenda for weight loss, but the medication can also help with sugar control. Saxenda is recommended for individuals with a body mass index in the obese range of 30 and over or for individuals who have a 27 body mass index and weight-related conditions like hypertension. This small difference determines who should use Saxenda and who should use Victoza.
Some parties should not use liraglutide and as a result, should stay away from both Saxenda and Victoza. This includes people who have multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 or have a family history of medullary thyroid cancer.
The Common Side Effects of Trulicity and Saxenda/Victoza
Both Trulicity and Victoza/Saxenda have some associated side effects.
Many people who take Trulicity experience nausea shortly after beginning the medication. Studies reveal that 8% to 29% of people using Trulicity experience nausea within a few days of the first dose. For most patients, nausea subsides within a week or two. Besides nausea, some other common side effects associated with Trulicity include abdominal pain, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Some of the side effects commonly associated with Victoza/Saxenda include:
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- Injection site reactions or redness
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
The Differences Between the Two Medications
There are several differences between Trulicity and Victoza/Saxenda, which include:
- Reason for a prescription. Both medications are GLP-1 receptor agonists. While Trulicity is used to treat type 2 diabetes, Victoza/Saxenda is used to treat type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risks.
- Common side effects. There are more commonly associated side effects with Victoza/Saxenda than Trulicity. Both medications commonly result in decreased appetite, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Some additional side effects of Victoza/Saxenda include constipation, indigestion, and upper respiratory tract infections.
- Victoza/Saxenda cost slightly more than Trulicity. The average price of Trulicity is $806 for two 0.5 ml of 1.5mg/0.5ml pens, while the average price of Victoza/Saxenda is $995 for three 3 ml of 18 mg – 3 ml pens.
- Dosage frequency. While both medications are administered through injection, their frequency varies. Trulicity is administered weekly while Victoza/Saxenda is administered daily. As such, reaction site redness and tenderness are more common with Victoza/Saxenda.
As you create a healthcare plan, remember to be open and honest with your medical professional. This way, you can make the most informed decisions possible regarding medication, dosages, and surgical options. Choosing a GLP-1 receptor agonist can be difficult, but with a medical professional’s help, you can make the most informed decision possible.