A recent study published in JAMA Network Open highlights that weight management treatments (WMTs) are associated with a significant increase in the probability of achieving 5 percent or greater weight loss among patients with obesity. This finding underscores the importance of effective treatment options in combating obesity, a condition that continues to challenge global health.

Among the array of WMTs, Saxenda, and Wegovy stand out as two promising pharmacological interventions. These medications, which operate through different mechanisms, offer new hope for individuals struggling with weight loss.

This article will compare Saxenda and Wegovy and explore their efficacy, safety profiles, and suitability for patients seeking weight loss treatments.

Key Takeaways

  • Although both Saxenda and Wegovy are medications used for weight loss management, they have different mechanisms of action and varying clinical efficacy data.
  • When comparing Saxenda and Wegovy, it’s essential to consider their mechanisms of action, clinical efficacy, safety profiles, and practical considerations.
  • Understanding the differences in their safety profiles, dosing schedules, patient selection criteria, and cost can help medical professionals determine the most suitable treatment. 

Mechanism of Action

Weight loss.

Saxenda acts like GLP-1, a hormone your body naturally makes, signaling that you’re full. This action helps control your appetite, making you eat less and leading to weight loss. Saxenda slows down gastric emptying, prolonging the feeling of satiety after meals. By delaying stomach emptying, it reduces the frequency of hunger signals sent to the brain.

Liraglutide also enhances insulin secretion in response to meals and suppresses glucagon release, contributing to better blood glucose control. This effect is particularly beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

Meanwhile, Wegovy contains semaglutide, another GLP-1 receptor agonist similar to liraglutide but with a slightly different molecular structure that gives it a longer half-life, allowing weekly injections. Semaglutide also targets GLP-1 receptors in the brain, reducing appetite and increasing satiety. This mechanism is highly effective in decreasing food intake and promoting weight loss.

Like liraglutide, semaglutide slows gastric emptying, extending the feeling of fullness after eating and reducing overall calorie consumption. Semaglutide improves insulin secretion and inhibits glucagon release, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. This dual action benefits weight management and glycemic control, particularly in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Clinical Efficacy

Weight loss.

Saxenda, a weight loss injection prescribed for long-term weight management, shows promise. Clinical trials highlight its role as an effective treatment option. Patients using Saxenda experienced considerable weight reduction.

A study comparing liraglutide and semaglutide showcased the former’s capability, albeit with lower outcomes than Wegovy. Known results indicate that while both medications are grounded in enhancing GLP-1 hormone activity, leading to suppressed appetite and increased satiety, efficacy differs.

Wegovy shows promising results in weight loss, with studies highlighting its effectiveness. Wegovy patients shed almost 16% of their body weight in a significant trial. This showcases how Wegovy stands out among weight loss injections, offering a more impactful solution for those looking to manage obesity.

This performance is notable when compared to Saxenda’s outcomes in similar settings. The data pinpoints Wegovy not just as an option but as a potent tool in the arsenal against obesity, making it a cornerstone for long-term weight management plans prescribed by medical professionals.

Safety Profiles

Weight loss.

Saxenda and Wegovy have different safety profiles, which show the side effects people might face. Keep reading to learn more about these treatments for weight loss.

Common side effects include:

  • Nausea: Many people feel sick to their stomach during the first few weeks after starting Saxenda.
  • Diarrhea: A quick or loose bowel movement can occur, especially early in the treatment.
  • Constipation: Some who get these treatments may struggle with bowel movements.
  • Headache: It’s common for headaches to happen as your body gets used to Saxenda or Wegovy.
  • Vomiting: Throwing up may happen along with feeling nauseous.
  • Fatigue: Feeling very tired or weak is a side effect some people report.
  • Dizziness: You might feel light-headed or dizzy at times.
  • Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar): Especially in patients with type 2 diabetes, low blood sugar levels can be a concern.
  • Injection Site Reactions: The area on your skin where you inject Saxenda might get red, swollen, or itchy.

After discussing the common side effects, practitioners and patients must be aware of the possible severe effects these treatments can cause.

  • Pancreatitis is a concern, with some patients reporting severe and painful inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Kidney problems have been noted, including kidney failure in extreme cases that may require dialysis.
  • Gallbladder issues, such as gallstones and cholecystitis, can occur, causing pain and requiring medical intervention.
  • Severe allergic reactions are rare but possible and might include anaphylaxis or angioedema, which demand immediate attention.
  • Heart rate increase has been observed in some patients, which could pose risks for those with cardiovascular conditions.
  • Thyroid tumors, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), have been reported in rodent studies; it’s unknown if this risk applies to humans, but it warrants caution.
  • Depression or mood changes should be monitored as Saxenda can exacerbate these conditions in susceptible individuals.
  • Severe dehydration leading to kidney failure can occur due to nausea and vomiting, highlighting the importance of maintaining hydration.
  • Acute gallbladder disease has emerged in clinical trials, leading some participants to undergo cholecystectomy.

Practical Considerations

Choosing between Saxenda and Wegovy is more than just about their weight loss effects. Think about how each drug fits into your daily life, from when you take it to what it costs.

Dosing Schedules for Saxenda

Saxenda is a daily injectable medication for weight loss. It helps people feel full sooner by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone that signals fullness to the body.

  • Saxenda’s dosing schedule starts at 0.6 mg daily during the first week.
  • Patients increase their dose by 0.6 mg each week.
  • The goal is to reach a maintenance dose of 3 mg daily.
  • This gradual increase helps reduce Saxenda’s side effects.
  • Injection times can be flexible but should be taken simultaneously each day.

Dosing Schedules for Wegovy

On the other hand, patients who are getting Wegovy treatments follow a weekly regimen. The difference in their schedules is one of the most known distinctions between Wegovy and Saxenda.

  • Wegovy is given once a week, which might suit patients who prefer less frequent dosing.
  • Patients start with a low dose of 0.25 mg for the first month to help their body adjust.
  • The dose increases over time to reduce side effects. In the second month, it reaches 0.5 mg.
  • By the third month, the dose increases again to 1 mg.
  • The target dose for Wegovy reaches 2 mg by the fourth month and may continue at this level.

Patient Selection Criteria

Saxenda is a prescription medication for weight loss. Doctors choose it for specific patients based on certain criteria.

  • Adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more qualify for obesity treatment. This process extends to those with a BMI of 27 or more if they also have weight-related health issues like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
  • Patients must be ready to commit to a long-term lifestyle change that includes a low-calorie diet, increased physical activity, and the use of Saxenda.
  • Saxenda isn’t for everyone; it’s specifically not recommended for patients who have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC).
  • Since Saxenda mimics the GLP-1 hormone, individuals with a pancreatitis history should use it with caution.
  • Healthcare providers might choose Saxenda for patients keen on daily dosing rather than Wegovy’s weekly schedule due to personal preference or specific lifestyle needs.

Cost Comparison Between Saxenda and Wegovy

Saxenda can be expensive, with an average monthly cost ranging from $1,000 to $1,300. Like Saxenda, Wegovy’s monthly cost averages around $1,000 to $1,300.

However, actual costs may vary based on insurance coverage, pharmacy discounts, and other factors. Some insurance plans may cover Wegovy or Saxenda for weight management, particularly for patients with type 2 diabetes, while others do not.


Saxenda and Wegovy are effective weight loss medications. They work by controlling hunger. Saxenda is used every day, while Wegogy is used once a week. The cost and side effects differ for each. People looking to lose weight might choose based on these facts.



1. What’s the main difference between Saxenda and Wegovy?

Saxenda and Wegovy help with weight loss but have different active ingredients.

2. Can anyone use Saxenda or Wegovy to lose weight?

These treatments are for folks with certain health conditions or a high BMI.

3. How do you take Saxenda and Wegovy?

You give yourself a shot under the skin with both of them.

4. Are there side effects to using Saxenda or Wegovy?

Yes, things like stomach pain, nausea, or headache can happen.

5. Which one works faster for weight loss, Saxenda or Wegovy?

Saxenda (liraglutide) and Wegovy (semaglutide) lead to weight loss, but their onset of action differs. Saxenda starts working relatively quickly, while Wegovy also shows rapid weight loss effects within the initial weeks of treatment.


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Henderson J, Ehlers AP, Lee JM, et al. Weight loss treatment and longitudinal weight change among primary care patients with obesity. JAMA Network Open. 2024;7(2):e2356183. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.56183

Verywell Health. (n.d.). The differences between Saxenda and Wegovy. Verywell Health. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-differences-between-saxenda-and-wegovy-7564310 

Medical News Today. (n.d.). Saxenda vs. Wegovy: What to know. Medical News Today. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/drugs-saxenda-vs-wegovy