Victoza (Liraglutide) - Subcutaneous

Warning:

Victoza (liraglutide) has been found to cause thyroid C-cell tumors in rat and mouse studies. It is unknown whether Victoza can cause thyroid C-cell tumors, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), in humans, but the medication carries a boxed warning due to the potential risk. For this reason, Victoza should not be used in people who have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 or a history of MTC.


What Is Victoza?

Victoza (liraglutide) is a prescription drug used with diet and exercise to improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes who are aged 10 years and older. It can also be used to lower the risk of major heart events, such as heart attack and stroke, in adults with type 2 diabetes who have heart disease.

Victoza is available as a prefilled pen for injection under the skin (of the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm). It works by:

  • Slowing food leaving the stomach, which can help control blood sugar and may decrease appetite
  • Preventing the liver from making too much sugar
  • Helping the pancreas produce more insulin when blood sugar is high

Victoza contains the ingredient liraglutide. It is in a drug class called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Liraglutide

Brand Name(s): Victoza, Saxenda

Administration Route(s): Subcutaneous

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Antidiabetic

Available Generically: No

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Liraglutide

Dosage Form(s): Solution

What Is Victoza Used For?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Victoza to:

  • Improve blood sugar control (along with diet and exercise) in people with type 2 diabetes who are 10 years or older.
  • Lower the risk of major events like heart attack and stroke in adults with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Victoza is not indicated to treat type 1 diabetes. It should not be used with other medications that contain liraglutide, such as Saxena or Xultophy.

How to Take Victoza

Before starting Victoza, read the patient information that comes with your prescription. Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions. Make sure to take Victoza exactly as instructed. Your healthcare provider will show you how to administer the medication.

Victoza is available as an injectable pen. When administering Victoza, remember to:

  • Prepare your injection just before you are ready to administer it. Check the medication before using it to make sure it is not discolored and does not have any particles. If it does, call your pharmacist.
  • Inject Victoza subcutaneously (under the skin of the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm)
  • Use a new needle for every injection. When finished, put the needle in a sharps container. Dispose of the container according to state or local laws.
  • Never share an insulin pen, syringe, or needle, even if the needle on the pen has been changed.

Talk to your healthcare provider about low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). If your blood sugar is low, you may feel hungry, shaky, dizzy, or irritable. A fast-acting source of carbohydrates/sugar, such as glucose tablets or apple juice, can treat low blood sugar. Your healthcare provider may prescribe glucagon for use in an emergency low blood sugar situation. Make sure your family, friends, and/or caregivers know how to use it. Also, look for signs of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), such as increased thirst, hunger, and urination.

Do not change your dose or medication schedule unless you talk to your healthcare provider. Call your healthcare provider if you become ill and have vomiting or diarrhea.

Storage

Store the unopened Victoza pen in the refrigerator. Once opened, you can store the pen at room temperature for up to 30 days or in the refrigerator. Do not freeze Victoza. Throw it away if it becomes frozen. Keep Victoza out of the reach of children.

How Long Does Victoza Take to Work?

Victoza may start lowering blood sugar as soon as two weeks. Your healthcare provider will instruct you on blood sugar monitoring.

What Are the Side Effects of Victoza?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

The most common side effects of Victoza are:

  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Stomach problems: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, indigestion
  • Headache 
  • Decreased appetite
  • Common cold/upper respiratory infection
  • Back pain
  • Injection site reaction
  • Increased levels of bilirubin
  • Increased levels of amylase and lipase (digestive enzymes)

Severe Side Effects

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Hypersensitivity reaction or anaphylaxis: Symptoms can include rash, hives, swelling around the lips, tongue, face, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms require emergency medical attention. 
  • Angioedema: Swelling under the skin
  • Kidney failure, or worsening kidney failure
  • Gallbladder and pancreas problems: Call your healthcare provider immediately if you have severe, sudden pain in the upper stomach that may spread to the back, nausea, vomiting, fever, or yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes.
  • Dehydration: Call your healthcare provider right away if you feel very thirsty or hot, cannot urinate, or are sweating heavily.
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts: This is more likely to occur in people being treated off-label for weight loss. Call your healthcare provider right away or get emergency medical help if you have sudden changes in mood or behavior or suicidal thoughts.
  • Thyroid tumor: In nonhuman animal studies, liraglutide caused thyroid tumors, but it is not known whether this could occur in humans.

Long-Term Side Effects

In rare cases, some side effects may not occur right away. Some are considered mild, such as:

  • Appetite loss
  • Flu
  • Infection
  • Back pain
  • Heartburn
  • Cough
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety

Other long-term or delayed side effects are considered moderate and may include:

  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Gallstones
  • Changes in liver enzymes and digestive enzymes
  • Liver problems
  • Swelling.

Some people experience orthostatic hypotension. This is when you have low blood pressure and dizziness when standing up quickly. If this happens, stand up slowly, and make sure you can support yourself while standing.

Severe long-term or delayed side effects may include:

  • Pancreas or gallbladder problems
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Tumors
  • Kidney failure

Report Side Effects

Victoza may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Victoza Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For injection dosage form:
    • For type 2 diabetes:
      • Adults and children 10 years of age and older—At first, 0.6 milligram (mg) injected under the skin once a day for 1 week. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed and until your blood sugar is controlled.
      • Children younger than 10 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes:
      • Adults—At first, 0.6 milligram (mg) injected under the skin once a day for 1 week. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For treatment of obesity:
      • Adults—At first, 0.6 milligram (mg) injected under the skin once a day for 1 week. Your doctor will increase your dose weekly up to 3 mg every week.
      • Children—Use is not recommended.

Modifications

Modifications, or changes, to your dose or treatment plan may be necessary in some cases.

Age

In clinical trials, Victoza had similar safety and efficacy data in older adults (aged 65 years and older) compared with younger adults. However, some older adults may still have greater sensitivity to Victoza. For children, Victoza can be used in those aged 10 and older. However, Victoza has not been studied in children younger than 10 years old.

Pregnancy

Based on nonhuman animal studies, Victoza may harm the fetus if used during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should consult their healthcare provider for medical guidance. If you are already taking Victoza and find out you are pregnant, consult your healthcare provider.

Breastfeeding

There is no data on Victoza and human milk. Consult your healthcare provider for medical advice.

Kidney or Liver Problems

People with kidney or liver problems should consult their healthcare provider for medical advice before using Victoza. 

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of Victoza, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Victoza?

Too much Victoza can cause severe nausea, vomiting, and low blood sugar.

What Happens If I Overdose on Victoza?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Victoza, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses, has a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t wake up after taking too much Victoza, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is very important that your doctor check your or your child's progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

Do not use Saxenda® if you are also using Victoza® . They contain the same medicine.

It is very important to carefully follow any instructions from your health care team about:

  • Alcohol—Drinking alcohol may cause severe low blood sugar. Discuss this with your health care team.
  • Other medicines—Do not take other medicines during the time you are using liraglutide unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This especially includes nonprescription medicines such as aspirin, and medicines for appetite control, asthma, colds, cough, hay fever, or sinus problems.
  • Counseling—Other family members need to learn how to prevent side effects or help with side effects if they occur. Also, diabetic patients may need special counseling about diabetes medicine dosing changes that might occur because of lifestyle changes, such as changes in exercise and diet. Furthermore, counseling on contraception and pregnancy may be needed because of the problems that can occur during pregnancy in patients with diabetes.
  • Travel—Keep a recent prescription and your medical history with you. Be prepared for an emergency as you would normally. Make allowances for changing time zones and keep your meal times as close as possible to your usual meal times.
  • In case of emergency—There may be a time when you need emergency help for a problem caused by your diabetes. You need to be prepared for these emergencies. It is a good idea to wear a medical identification (ID) bracelet or neck chain at all times. Also, carry an ID card in your wallet or purse that says that you have diabetes and a list of all of your medicines.

Check with your doctor right away if you have a mass in the neck, difficulty with swallowing, hoarseness, or trouble breathing. These may be symptoms of a serious thyroid problem.

Pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas) may occur while you are using this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have sudden and severe stomach pain, chills, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, or lightheadedness.

This medicine may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, hoarseness, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth after using this medicine.

This medicine does not cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). However, low blood sugar can occur when you use liraglutide with other medicines that can lower blood sugar, such as insulin, metformin, or a sulfonylurea. Low blood sugar also can occur if you delay or miss a meal or snack, exercise more than usual, drink alcohol, or cannot eat because of nausea or vomiting. Victoza® may increase the risk for low blood sugar in children 10 years of age and older, even if they are not using other medicines that can lower blood sugar.

  • Symptoms of low blood sugar include: anxiety, behavior changes similar to being drunk, blurred vision, cold sweats, confusion, cool, pale skin, difficulty with thinking, drowsiness, excessive hunger, a fast heartbeat, headache (continuous), nausea, nervousness, nightmares, restless sleep, shakiness, slurred speech, or unusual tiredness or weakness.
  • If symptoms of low blood sugar occur, eat glucose tablets or gel, corn syrup, honey, or sugar cubes, or drink fruit juice, non-diet soft drink, or sugar dissolved in water to relieve the symptoms. Also, check your blood for low blood sugar. Glucagon is used in emergency situations when severe symptoms such as seizures (convulsions) or unconsciousness occur. Have a glucagon kit available, along with a syringe and needle, and know how to use it. Members of your family also should know how to use it.

Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) may occur if you do not take enough or skip a dose of your antidiabetic medicine, overeat or do not follow your meal plan, have a fever or infection, or do not exercise as much as usual.

  • Symptoms of high blood sugar include: blurred vision, drowsiness, dry mouth, flushed, dry skin, fruit-like breath odor, increased urination (frequency and amount), ketones in the urine, loss of appetite, stomachache, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, trouble breathing (rapid and deep), unconsciousness, or unusual thirst.
  • If symptoms of high blood sugar occur, check your blood sugar level and then call your doctor for instructions.

This medicine may cause gallbladder problems, including gallstones. Call your doctor right away if you have stomach fullness, gaseous stomach pain, recurrent fever, or yellow eyes or skin.

If you are using Saxenda® :

  • Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using this medicine, tell your doctor right away.
  • This medicine can increase your heart rate while you are at rest. Your doctor should check your heart rate while you are using this medicine.
  • It may also cause some people to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies or to become more depressed. Tell your doctor if you develop any mood changes, strange thoughts, or any unusual behavior while you are using this medicine.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Victoza?

Victoza is not appropriate for everyone. You should not take Victoza if you are allergic to liraglutide, any other GLP-1 agonist, or any of the inactive ingredients in Victoza.

People with the following should also not take Victoza:

Some people may be able to take Victoza with caution, under close monitoring of their healthcare provider. Examples of situations where Victoza may be prescribed with caution include:

  • Kidney problems
  • While taking a medication that can harm the kidneys
  • Severe stomach disease
  • Severe gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying)
  • Risk of pancreas inflammation

Before taking Victoza, tell your healthcare provider about any medical conditions you have as well as your medical history.

What Other Medications Interact With Victoza?

Before you take Victoza, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements.

Victoza causes delayed gastric emptying, so it can affect the absorption of any medications taken by mouth at the same time. Ask your healthcare provider how you should time your medications to avoid absorption issues. Victoza can also lower blood sugar, and the risk is higher when you also use insulin or take another drug that lowers blood sugar. A dosage adjustment may be required.

This is not a full list of drug interactions. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for a complete list of drug interactions.

What Medications Are Similar?

Victoza is in a class of medications called GLP-1 receptor agonists. Victoza contains the ingredient liraglutide. Other injectable drugs in the GLP-1 receptor agonist class of drugs include:

  • Adlyxin (lixisenatide)
  • Bydureon (exenatide)
  • Byetta (exenatide)
  • Ozempic (semaglutide)
  • Saxenda (liraglutide): Indicated for weight loss
  • Trulicity (dulaglutide)
  • Wegovy (semaglutide): Indicated for weight loss

Rybelsus is an oral GLP-1 receptor agonist that contains semaglutide. It is used to improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes.

Many oral medications are available to help control blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. They include:

In some cases, people with type 2 diabetes may need injectable insulin to help control blood sugar. There are various types of long-acting and short-acting insulin.

This is a list of drugs also prescribed for type 2 diabetes. It is NOT a list of drugs recommended to take with Victoza. Ask your pharmacist or a healthcare provider if you have questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Victoza used for?

    Victoza is used along with diet and exercise to improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes who are 10 years or older. Victoza can also be used in adults with type 2 diabetes and heart disease to lower the risk of major cardiovascular (heart) events like heart attack and stroke.

  • How does Victoza work?

    Victoza works by slowing food that is leaving the stomach, which can help control blood sugar and may decrease appetite and promote weight loss. Victoza can also help prevent the liver from making too much sugar and help the pancreas make more insulin when blood sugar is high.

  • What drugs should not be taken with Victoza?

    Victoza can affect the absorption of any oral medicine taken around the same time. Ask your healthcare provider how to space your medications to avoid any interactions. Victoza can also lower blood sugar, even more so when combined with insulin or another drug that lowers blood sugar. Therefore, a dosage adjustment may be required to help prevent low blood sugar.

  • How long does it take for Victoza to work?

    Victoza may start lowering blood sugar in two weeks. Your healthcare provider will give you instructions on blood sugar testing.

  • What are the side effects of Victoza?

    The most common side effects of Victoza are low blood sugar, stomach problems (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, indigestion), headache, decreased appetite, back pain, and injection site reactions.

  • How do I stop taking Victoza?

    Your healthcare provider will advise you on how long to take Victoza.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Victoza

Before you take Victoza, read the patient information leaflet that comes with your prescription. Consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

If you have never given yourself an injection, it can feel very scary initially. Your healthcare provider will teach you how to administer Victoza. Bring along a family member or a close friend for support and training, if you can.

Give yourself ample time to prepare and administer the injection. Do not rush. Once you get past the first injection, it becomes easier, and after you do it a few times, it will become routine.

Prepare a kit with supplies that you take with you everywhere you go. Include:

  • Blood glucose meter and testing supplies (strips, lancing device, lancets, alcohol wipes)
  • Emergency contact information
  • Glucagon (an injection or nasal Baqsimi)
  • Low blood sugar treatments, such as glucose tablets and juice boxes

Wear a medical alert at all times. This will communicate to responders that you have type 2 diabetes in the event of an emergency. Victoza should be used in conjunction with diet and exercise. Ask your healthcare provider what kind of diet and exercise you should follow. Monitor your blood sugar daily or several times daily as directed.

Before taking Victoza, discuss your medical conditions and medical history with your healthcare team. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medications you take. This helps ensure that Victoza will be prescribed safely.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  5. DailyMed. Label: Victoza- liraglutide injection.