Victoza Review: Do Diabetes Injections Work?

Victoza Review: Do Diabetes Injections Work?


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Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice. All statements are merely the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to prescription medication.

Victoza is an injectable prescription medication that's approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat type 2 diabetes. The generic form of the drug is called liraglutide.

We’ll use the terms liraglutide and Victoza interchangeably throughout this article, as they refer to the same active drug ingredient.

But is Victoza proven to reduce blood sugar levels in clinical trials? And if so, by how much? Does the drug cause any side effects? And how do real Victoza users rate and describe their experience?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze medical studies to determine whether or not Victoza decreases blood sugar levels, and if so, by how much.

We'll discuss dosage, side effects, whether Victoza causes weight loss and also feature patient reviews of the drug.

We'll document the price of Victoza at the time of updating this article, and share a resource page from the drug's manufacturer that can help patients access the drug at lower cost.

Is Victoza Effective for Diabetes?

Victoza has been studied in many clinical trials for its effectiveness in treating type 2 diabetes.

medical review published in the Health Technology Assessment journal found that Victoza at both of its prescribed doses was effective for reducing blood sugar levels.

The researchers noted that the drug also reduced systolic blood pressure which could be considered a potential secondary benefit for patients with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

A 2020 meta-study examined whether Victoza could be a beneficial adjunctive treatment to insulin in patients with type 1 diabetes. This means that both medications were used concurrently. 

After analyzing data from over 2,400 patients, the study authors found that patients using Victoza and insulin experienced reduced blood sugar levels compared to patients using insulin alone. Those taking Victoza also required less daily insulin.

A 2020 clinical trial examined the long-term effectiveness of Victoza for diabetes, testing the drug's effects on blood sugar over five years.

Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels, which is a marker for blood sugar, decreased from an average starting point of 7.9 to 7 at the end of the trial. This represents a blood sugar decrease of 11.4%. The researchers also noted that fasting blood sugar levels experienced a “significant reduction.”

We will conclude from the available research that Victoza is effective for managing diabetes, which should be expected given that the drug is FDA-approved for that indication.

Victoza is effective for type 2 diabetes, and potentially effective for type 1 diabetes, but the drug is only approved by the FDA for treating type 2 diabetes because it has more research backing for that condition.

Does Victoza Cause Weight Loss?

Patients are often curious about whether Victoza can cause weight loss, given that the same active drug ingredient in Victoza (liraglutide) is FDA-approved for weight loss at a higher dose, in the form of the drug Saxenda.

The medical review cited in the previous section on the long-term outcomes of Victoza also reported on body weight changes.

The study authors documented that average body weight in the overweight and obese trial population decreased from 203 pounds to 192.5 pounds, representing 5% weight loss over five years.

The study authors noted that women experienced greater body weight decreases while on Victoza than men.

Another medical review, published in the Obesity Facts journal, examined Victoza’s weight loss effects in overweight patient populations at various doses. 

After four months, patients on the 1.2 milligram (mg) dose lost an average of 16.3 pounds. Patients on the 1.8 mg dose lost an average of 17.2 pounds.

Victoza seems to be effective for weight loss, but it’s not FDA-approved for weight loss so we wouldn’t recommend using the drug for weight loss alone. This would constitute an "off-label" use.

Patients interested in liraglutide for weight loss should speak with their doctor about Saxenda.

While Victoza isn’t FDA-approved for weight loss, this can still be a potential secondary benefit of the drug for overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes. This benefit may make this drug more favorable than other diabetes medications which don’t have a weight loss effect in overweight and obese patient populations.

Real People Review Victoza

A YouTube creator named "The Diabetic Caucus" explains why she stopped using Victoza:

A YouTube creator named "ALL THINGS ARRIE" shares her experience using Victoza for insulin resistance:

Does Victoza Cause Side Effects?

Victoza does cause side effects in some patients, as documented in clinical trials.

medical review published in the Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome reported that the most common side effects of Victoza are relatively mild: nausea, vomiting, dyspepsia (indigestion), constipation and diarrhea. 

The rare side effects are more concerning in our opinion. The research review above reports an increased risk of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), gallbladder, liver disease and heart rate. 

The increased risk in terms of percentage was not reported for these side effects, so we assume them to be rare.

Additionally, Victoza’s FDA label contains a “black box” warning indicating increased risk of thyroid C-cell tumors. This type of warning is the most severe issued by the FDA, and indicates a side effect that’s potentially life-threatening.

The black box warning for Victoza notes that this risk was only shown in animal and not human studies, but it seems logical for patients with a personal or family history of thyroid disorders to speak with their doctor about alternative type 2 diabetes medications which may not confer this risk.

Victoza vs. Ozempic

Ozempic is another injectable medication used to treat type 2 diabetes.

As we detailed in our recent Ozempic for weight loss reviews article, patients are often curious about which of these two drugs are more effective, given that they’re in the same drug class and prescribed for the exact same condition.

There have been clinical trials directly comparing their efficacy.

A 2021 medical review compared the effectiveness of the two drugs for treating type 2 diabetes, and found that Ozempic was superior. 

Blood sugar levels were 0.47% lower with Ozempic 1 mg compared to Victoza 1.2 mg, and 0.3% lower with Ozempic 1 mg compared to Victoza 1.8 mg.

clinical trial compared the weight loss effects of the two drugs and found that Ozempic caused significantly greater weight loss than Victoza. 

Based on the available research, we would recommend that patients speak with their doctor about Ozempic rather than Victoza, as it may be more effective.

How Much Does Victoza Cost?

The cost of Victoza can be relatively high without health insurance in the US.

GoodRx reports the average retail price to be $1,153 at the time of updating this article. Many health insurance plans will partially or fully subsidize this retail price so the patient ends up paying a lower price or paying nothing at all.

Some patients may qualify for a lower price by applying for the Patient Assistance Program using the drug manufacturer's website.

There used to be a Victoza Savings Card available, but unfortunately that program was discontinued in April of 2021.

We typically recommend that patients speak with their doctor about the generic version of drugs, because generics can be significantly cheaper than brand-name drugs, and should be equivalently effective.

A 2019 meta-study that we often cite on Illuminate Health compared patient outcomes from branded and generic drugs, using data from over 3 million patients, and found the two categories of drugs to be equally effective.

Unfortunately, at the time of updating this article, there doesn't appear to be a generic version of Victoza for sale according to GoodRx. Drug manufacturers often have exclusive rights for a period of years after a drug hits the market.

Users Review Victoza

Victoza has been reviewed over 500 times on Drugs.com at the time of updating this article. This website allows patients on prescription medication to publish personal reviews of their experience.

The average rating of Victoza for type 2 diabetes is currently 7.7/10.

We cannot verify the legitimacy or accuracy of any reviews on this site.

The top positive review of Victoza is written by a user named “T2D under control!” who claims that the drug was a superior alternative to Metformin for them:

“diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 4 yrs ago. I was prescribed Metformin, then added glipizide, which made me gain a half a pound a day until I quit taking it 30 days & 15 lbs later. Then I was prescribed Victoza. The first 3 weeks, I was sick to my stomach, all day, every day. I had NO energy at all. I would get out of bed, get dressed & then lay back down - it was really THAT bad. BUT after around the 4th week, I started feeling normal again. My A1C went from 9.2 to 5.4 in just 5 weeks.”

The top negative review of Victoza is from a user named “Lolo” who claims that the side effects of the medication were unpleasant:

“Finished 2 weeks on victoza. 0.6 for one week then 1.2 for a week. I'm nauseous 24/7. No appetite. No energy. Nothing tastes good anymore. I stopped talking this med. After 1 day without it, the nausea was gone, my energy returned, my appetite came back and food had flavor again.”  

How Does Victoza Work?

Victoza, when injected, stimulates insulin secretion in response to glucose.

According to StatPearls, which is one of the largest free medical databases in the US, this normalizes the insulin and glucose interaction after eating, which is dysregulated or totally absent in type 2 diabetics.

Victoza falls into a class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists. GLP-1 receptors in the pancreas stimulate insulin release, so agonizing these receptors is the mechanism of action of this drug.

According to StatPearls, this type of medication can directly improve cardiovascular function by improving endothelial function and cardiac output, which is potentially why reduced blood pressure was noted as a secondary benefit of the drug in some of the above-linked research trials.

Victoza Dosage

According to Victoza’s official website, the medication is a once-daily injection that’s available at three separate doses: 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg and 1.8 mg.

Doctors will prescribe Victoza at one of these doses based on severity of type 2 diabetes and level of insulin dysfunction experienced by the patient.

As would be logically expected, higher Victoza dosing is likely to be more effective, but may also increase the risk of side effects.

Typically doctors will start a patient on the lowest dose of Victoza to monitor response, and gradually increase the dose until the patient experiences benefit.

If a patient can achieve successful outcomes at the lowest dose, this is generally considered to be the optimal solution, because it may lower the risk of side effects.

Our Blood Sugar Support Picks

Magnesium is a mineral that is clinically shown to improve insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes, and is clinically shown to reduce fasting blood sugar levels.

Bulletproof Magnesium is our top magnesium supplement pick, because it's affordable (under $15 at a subscription rate at the time of updating this article) and has no inactive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

Control Glucose by Mend is our top premium blood sugar support supplement.

This supplement contains chromium, which is clinically shown to reduce the risk of insulin resistance, and Salacia chinensis extract which reduced post-meal blood sugar levels by 34% in a 2016 clinical trial.

Because this supplement provides a relatively high level of chromium, consumers may wish to speak with a doctor before using it for extended periods of time.

Cinnamon was shown in a medical review published in the Annals of Family Medicine journal to reduce fasting blood sugar levels, reduced total cholesterol levels and reduced triglyceride levels.

Illuminate Labs Ceylon Cinnamon Extract is our Ceylon cinnamon supplement that only costs $15 on a subscription basis.

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy or unsafe.

We're not suggesting that dietary supplements should be used to treat any medical condition, or that they're as effective as any FDA-approved medication; rather, we're just sharing information that individuals averse to prescription medication can speak with their doctor about.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Victoza is effective for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and may cause weight loss as a secondary benefit in overweight and obese patients.

Since normalizing weight has favorable effects on blood sugar and metabolism, this drug may be superior to other type 2 diabetes medications which do not cause weight loss.

Victoza causes side effects in some patients such as nausea and indigestion. It may also increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer according to the black box warning on the drug's label.

Ozempic has more impressive clinical data for both type 2 diabetes and weight loss based on the research we could identify. Ozempic is another prescription injectable drug which is a member of the same drug class as Victoza.

The reviews of Victoza on Drugs.com are more favorable than patient reviews of most medications we’ve analyzed on Illuminate Health.

At the time of updating this article, Victoza has a retail price over $1,000, but health insurance can reduce that price, and the manufacturer also has a resource page that we linked to in this article, which can help low-income patients access the medication at discounted rates in some cases.