Victoza Review: Are Anti-Diabetic Injections Effective?

Victoza Review: Are Anti-Diabetic Injections Effective?


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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, and is also the active ingredient in a prescription weight loss medication called Saxenda.

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

In this article we’ll review published medical studies on Victoza to provide our determination on whether the drug is effective for treating type 2 diabetes. We’ll highlight potential side effects of the medication, compare the effectiveness of the drug to other diabetes medications such as Ozempic, and share a real user review of Victoza.

Is Victoza Effective For Diabetes?

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

One 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.

Another meta-study from 2020 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 recent medical study examined the long-term effectiveness of Victoza for diabetes, which was a useful inquiry because clinical trials can often be short in duration. The researchers examined the efficacy of the drug over the course of 5 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. It 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.

Is Victoza Effective for Weight Loss?

Patients are often curious about whether Victoza is effective for weight loss, given that the same active drug ingredient 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.

This isn’t a tremendous decrease over the course of 5 years, but it’s still a significant body weight decrease of around 5% which can be a useful secondary benefit of the drug for overweight diabetic patients. The study authors also 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. The sample sizes used in this study were relatively low, which makes the data weaker in our opinion.

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.

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 U.S., 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 Side Effects

Victoza does cause side effects in some patients, as would be expected from a medication which is injected directly into the bloodstream.

A thorough 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 side effects which are more rare 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 proven 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 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 also more likely to cause side effects.

Typically doctors will start a patient on the lowest dose of Victoza to monitor response, and gradually increase the dose if the patient isn’t experiencing benefit. If a patient can achieve successful outcomes at the lowest dose, this is generally considered to be the best solution, because it will lower the risk of side effects.

Victoza Real User Review

Victoza has been reviewed on YouTube by a channel called "The Diabetic Cactus." The creator shares her personal experience using this drug, and the review appears unsponsored:

Victoza Vs. Ozempic

Ozempic is another GLP-1 medication which is prescribed for type 2 diabetes. As we detailed in our recent Ozempic for weight loss reviews article, patients often ask about which of these two drugs are more effective, given that they’re in the same drug class and prescribed for the exact same conditions.

Thankfully, there have been clinical trials directly comparing their efficacy.

medical review published in 2021 compared the efficacy 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.

A 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.

Is a Generic Version of Victoza Available?

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

An extensive 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.

Victoza Cost

The cost of Victoza can be relatively high without health insurance in the U.S. GoodRx reports the average retail price to be $1,162.70 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 nothing at all.

Some patients may qualify for a lower price by applying for the Patient Assistance Program on the drug manufacturer Novo Nordisk's website. There used to be a Victoza Savings Card available, but unfortunately that program was discontinued in April of 2021.

Victoza User Reviews

Victoza has been reviewed over 500 times on Drugs.com, which is a website where patients on prescription medication can publish personal reviews of their experience. The average rating of Victoza for type 2 diabetes is 7.6/10, which is a relatively high rating.

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.”  

Blood Sugar Support Supplement

Cinnamon extract is a dietary supplement that can help support healthy blood sugar levels. We are not suggesting this supplement should be used to treat any disease or medical condition, but we would like to share some clinical research on the effects of cinnamon supplementation and blood sugar.

A medical review published in the Annals of Family Medicine journal found that cinnamon consumption reduced fasting blood sugar levels, reduced total cholesterol levels and reduced triglyceride levels.

A clinical trial from 2006 found that cinnamon extract caused a 10.3% blood sugar reduction in type 2 diabetics, while placebo pills only caused a 3.4% reduction.

For consumers interested in cinnamon extract supplements, we recommend choosing a ceylon cinnamon extract rather than a cassia cinnamon extract, because ceylon cinnamon has negligible levels of a toxin called coumarin that's high in cassia cinnamon. A medical review published in the Nutrition Journal concluded that ceylon cinnamon was safer for this reason.

Illuminate Labs manufactures a ceylon cinnamon extract supplement that's potent (standardized to minimum 8% flavonoids) and is third-party tested to ensure purity and label accuracy. 

Interested consumers can check out Illuminate Labs Ceylon Cinnamon Extract at this link.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Victoza is effective for managing 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.

This medication causes side effects in some patients such as nausea and indigestion. It may also increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer.

Victoza appears to be inferior to Ozempic for both type 2 diabetes and weight loss based on the clinical 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 from users of the medication are more favorable than reviews of most drugs we’ve analyzed on Illuminate Health.




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