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"The weight-loss jabs": What are they? Are they legit?

Unlocking the Power of GLP-1 Agonists: Pioneering Weight Loss Solutions

In the ever-evolving landscape of medical science and wellness, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists have emerged as a groundbreaking category of pharmaceuticals, revolutionizing the realm of weight management. These remarkable compounds, often referred to as "weight loss jabs," have garnered substantial attention and acclaim for their ability to tackle the formidable challenge of obesity. Offering a beacon of hope to millions striving to achieve healthier lives, GLP-1 agonists stand as a testament to the relentless pursuit of innovative solutions to one of the world's most pressing health concerns. In this exploration, we embark on a journey to unravel the intricacies of GLP-1 agonists by comparing the two most commonly used GLP-1 agonists in Hong Kong, Saxenda and Ozempic. We will review their mechanisms, benefits, risks, FDA approvals, and administration schedules.

How do they work?

Saxenda and Ozempic, two pharmaceutical marvels prescribed by healthcare professionals, share a common thread as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists. These medications play pivotal roles in managing blood sugar levels and moderating gastric emptying. Nevertheless, the disparities between them are equally significant, including variations in their active ingredients and FDA-approved applications.

Both Saxenda and Ozempic come in convenient pre-filled pens for easy self-administration, resembling insulin pens in appearance. However, their administration schedules diverge. In this exploration, we delve into the nuances differentiating Saxenda from Ozempic, including their intended uses, potential side effects, financial considerations, and accessibility.

Unveiling Saxenda (Liraglutide)

Saxenda, (generic name: liraglutide), stands as a daily injectable prescription medication. This treatment regimen is prescribed together with a reduced-calorie diet and regular physical activity to address weight management. It targets adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, or a BMI of 27 or higher coupled with at least one weight-related serious comorbidity.

Saxenda spurs insulin production, reduces glucagon release from the liver, and retards the emptying of the stomach during digestion. Saxenda's administration is a subcutaneous injection, allowing for injections in the abdomen, upper arm, or thigh. Patients are recommended to alternate injection sites, and it can be taken with or without food.

Introducing Ozempic (Semaglutide)

Ozempic, on the other hand, is a weekly prescription injection tailored for the management of type 2 diabetes. This medication complements dietary choices and exercise routines by facilitating insulin secretion from the pancreas when blood sugar levels surge and curbing glucagon release from the liver. Additionally, it prolongs the process of food leaving the stomach, which can help suppress appetite and, in some cases, lead to weight loss. However, it's important to note that Ozempic is not primarily designated as a weight-loss medication.

Similar to Saxenda, Ozempic is available in a pre-filled pen format, closely resembling an insulin pen. Administration involves a once-weekly injection, to be administered consistently on the same day, with or without food.

How do they compare?

FDA approval

Though Saxenda and Ozempic follow comparable physiological pathways, their divergent FDA approvals make them suitable for distinct health needs. Saxenda is prescribed to individuals with a BMI of 30 kg/m² or higher, or a BMI of 27 kg/m² or higher who exhibit weight-related conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, Ozempic is primarily employed for managing blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients and reducing the risk of cardiovascular events in those with both type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Side effects and risks

Both medications have a similar profile of side effects and risks. Users may experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, injection site reactions, and various other symptoms. Rare but serious side effects, including pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, and thyroid C-cell tumors, warrant attention.

It is worth noting that both medications bear a "black box" warning of thyroid c-cell tumours from the FDA due to animal trial findings, which highlighted an elevated risk of thyroid cancer in mice and rats. However, it remains uncertain whether this risk translates to humans. Both drugs are contraindicated in patients with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid caner or in patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).


Both Saxenda and Ozempic require a prescription from a healthcare provider.

Administration schedule

Both drugs come in pre-filled pen format, closely resembling an insulin pen, for convenient self-administration. Ozempic is administered once a week (consistently on the same day of the week), whereas Saxenda is administered daily. Both drugs can be administered with or without food.


In conclusion, whether Saxenda or Ozempic is the optimal choice hinges on individual health needs and the guidance of a medical professional. Therefore, patients should consider factors such as individual health conditions, lifestyle, risks, accessibility, side effects, and intended usage when making their decision. Always consult a healthcare professional before use.


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