Switching From Saxenda To Wegovy
Wegovy will soon be available in the UK. This weight loss treatment – which contains the active ingredient semaglutide and is combined with regular exercise and a low-calorie diet – is set to be launched in 2023, and can help people achieve and maintain healthier body weight.
You may be wondering if you can switch to using Wegovy from Saxenda, another injectable medicine for people who are obese or overweight with a weight-related medical condition. In this article, we will outline how you would go about switching from Saxenda to Wegovy, and why Wegovy might be a better alternative.
Saxenda vs Wegovy: What’s the Difference?
Let’s start by comparing the two medications:
Wegovy and Saxenda are both weight loss treatments. The two medications both contain active ingredients which are glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. The semaglutide in Wegovy and liraglutide in Saxenda work in a similar way to regulate and reduce appetite. For more information, please read our article ‘How Does Saxenda Work?’.
A study that enrolled over 300 adults compared the effectiveness of Saxenda and Wegovy for weight loss. It was found that – combined with exercise and diet – those who took Wegovy lost more weight (16% of their starting body weight) compared to those who took Saxenda (6%).
A major difference between Wegovy and Saxenda is their dosage. While Wegovy injections are self-administered once per week, Saxenda is injected once per day. Wegovy stays active in the body for seven days, while Saxenda stays active for only 24 hours. Due to the lower frequency of injections required, Wegovy may be a preferable weight loss medication to Saxenda for many people.
The two medications come in injection pens. While Wegovy pens deliver doses of 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1.0 mg, 1.7 mg and 2.4 mg, Saxenda pens are prescribed in strengths of 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg, 1.8 mg, 2.4 mg, and 3 mg.
Wegovy’s active ingredient semaglutide has certain interactions. You should tell your doctor if you are taking medicine including (GLP-1) receptor agonists dulaglutide, exenatide and liraglutide. Semaglutide may also be affected by herbal and vitamin supplements. See here for a detailed list of semaglutide interactions.
Drugs including levothyroxine and phentermine, as well as some supplements, may interact with Saxenda’s active ingredient, liraglutide. A comprehensive list of Saxenda’s interactions can be found here.
As GLP-1 receptor agonists, Wegovy and Saxenda share many of the same potential side effects. Common potential side effects of Wegovy and Saxenda include:
- Itching or swelling at the injection site
Serious side effects from Wegovy or Saxenda are rare, and may include:
- Vision changes
- Severe stomach pain
- Kidney problems
- Gallbladder disease
Why Am I Not Losing Weight on Saxenda?
Saxenda is immediately effective in suppressing your appetite, but it takes longer to help you achieve weight loss. This is because weight loss takes time, and you will gradually move up from the starting daily dose of Saxenda (0.6 mg) to the full dose (3 mg). How long Saxenda takes to work will vary from person to person. A 68-week trial found that on average, Saxenda users lost an average of 6% of their initial body weight.
There are various reasons why you might not be losing weight on Saxenda, from consuming too many calories, to not taking the medication as prescribed, or not getting enough physical activity. It should be emphasised that to be effective, Saxenda should be used in combination with regular exercise and a low-calorie diet.
If Saxenda is not working for you, you should speak to your doctor and allow them to assess your progress. This will allow your doctor to make changes to your treatment if necessary. Your doctor may recommend trying Wegovy instead, as it could help you achieve better results.
The Benefits of Switching From Saxenda to Wegovy
The numerous benefits of Wegovy mean that for some people, it may be a better option than Saxenda for losing weight. These advantages include:
- An injection is administered once per week, rather than the daily injections required by Saxenda
- Research suggests that Wegovy is more effective than Saxenda in helping to achieve weight loss
- Offers cardioprotective benefits such as the potential to reduce heart disease risk by supporting weight loss, regulating blood sugar levels and improving blood pressure levels
Side Effects of Stopping Saxenda
There are potential side effects associated with stopping Saxenda. While you won't get withdrawal symptoms after stopping Saxenda, because it's not an addictive drug, you may experience side effects when stopping your treatment. The unwanted symptoms may include:
- Changes in appetite
It's best to speak with your doctor first before deciding whether to stop Saxenda, continue taking the medication, or switch to Wegovy. You should not stop your treatment without medical supervision.
How Long Does Saxenda Stay In Your System?
Liraglutide, Saxenda’s active ingredient, has a half-life of 13 hours and stays in your system for several days. The strongest 3.0 mg dose of Saxenda stays in your system for three days before your body can eliminate it.
If you decide to stop taking Saxenda – whether you are switching to another weight loss treatment, or not – your doctor is likely to recommend reducing your dose gradually. That’s because stopping the medication abruptly can increase your chance of experiencing side effects such as nausea and vomiting due to the change in your hormone levels. After your digestive system has become accustomed to these changes, these side effects should subside.
How to Stop Taking Saxenda and Start Taking Wegovy
Here’s a look at the step-by-step process for stopping Saxenda and switching to Wegovy:
Step 1 – Talk to Your Doctor
Your doctor will review your treatment and evaluate whether Wegovy could provide a suitable alternative. If your doctor concludes that switching to Wegovy is the best choice for you, they can prescribe your new medication and advise you on the next steps.
Step 2 – Decide How to Stop
While you may choose to stop taking Saxenda right away, typically, you would be advised to gradually reduce your dose. This will help to avoid side effects such as nausea and vomiting.
Step 3 – Plan the Process
Planning your switch from Saxenda to Wegovy with your doctor can make the process easier. You can prepare for stopping Saxenda by stocking up on foods which are easy to digest as your body adapts to hormone level changes.
Timing can also be important. It might be preferable to switch from Saxenda to Wegovy at the weekend, offering more time to manage any side effects should they arise. Your doctor will advise you on the best time to stop Saxenda completely and start taking Wegovy.
Step 4 – Start Wegovy
Your doctor will let you know when to stop taking Saxenda and start taking Wegovy, and how much of a gap you should leave between the two treatments. Follow your dosing schedule carefully. You will gradually increase your Wegovy dose as your body adapts to the medication.
Where Can I Buy Wegovy?
Wegovy isn't currently licenced in the UK, but it will be available later this year (2023), giving you plenty of time to think about if the change is right for you and consult with your doctor. You might wish to use the time before the medication is launched to find out more about Wegovy and plan to switch weight loss treatments.
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