What is Victoza?
Victoza is an anti-diabetic medicine. An active ingredient of Victoza is “liraglutide” which is a glucagon-like peptide-1. Victoza is available as 6mg/ml solution for injection in a pre-filled pen. One pre-filled pen contains 3ml of solution which contains 18mg Liraglutide.
Uses of Victoza
Victoza is used to lower blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics. It should not be used in type 1 diabetics and patients with diabetic ketoacidosis. Victoza is not a first-line therapy for uncontrolled diabetes but is used in combination with other anti-diabetic drugs like metformin to achieve glycaemic control.
How does Victoza work?
- Victoza stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas which decreases blood sugar levels. Apart from this, it also lowers glucagon secretion (a hormone which increases blood glucose).
- This mechanism also leads to delayed gastric emptying and reduced body weight by decreasing the appetite.
- By controlling the blood glucose levels, Victoza decreases the incidence of kidney damage, heart problems, blindness, nerve problems etc.
How to Take Victoza?
- Victoza can be injected subcutaneously in the abdomen, thigh or upper arm once daily at a fixed time every day.
- Victoza should not be injected while it is cold as it can be very painful. It is always recommended to inject the solution while it is at room temperature.
- Do not inject Victoza if the solution has become cloudy or has clumps in the container. Discard the solution if it is not clear and colourless.
- Before injecting, make sure the site is clean and dry. Do not inject via intravenous or intramuscular route.
- Victoza can be administered along with other oral anti-diabetic drugs like sulfonylureas and metformin but their dose should be altered to prevent hypoglycaemia.
- Non-pharmacologic therapy (dietary modification, weight control, and exercise) is equally essential to reduce blood glucose levels along with Victoza therapy.
Common Dosage for Victoza?
- There is no fixed dose regimen of Victoza for the treatment of diabetes. Constant monitoring of blood glucose levels and dose variation accordingly is a must.
- To reduce the risk of side effects, your doctor may initially start from a low dose and gradually increase your dose based on your condition.
- Victoza insulin is usually administered once a day at the same time every day.
- To reduce the incidence of gastric side effects, the initial dose of Victoza is 0.6mg per day for one week. The dose can be increased to 1.2 mg per day the following week.
- The daily dose can be increased up to 1.8mg per day if glycaemic control is not achieved with 1.2mg per day. A dose higher than 1.8mg is not recommended.
- Dose adjustment of Victoza insulin is needed with a change in physical activity, time and amount of food intake, change in kidney and liver functions.
When to Avoid Victoza?
Victoza should be avoided or used with caution in:
- Patients with allergy to any of its components
- Type 1 diabetics
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (a complication of diabetes associated with building up of acids)
- Severe kidney or liver function disorders
- Patients with a family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma
- Patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndromes
- Pancreatitis patients
Side-effects of Victoza?
In addition to its intended uses, Victoza may cause few undesirable side effects which may include:
- Hypoglycaemia – most commonly observed when patients take Victoza injection along with an increased dose of other hypoglcaemic (blood glucose lowering) drugs. Symptoms of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) include:
- A headache
- Impaired concentration
- Tachycardia (increased heartbeat)
- Other less commonly observed side effects include:
- A headache
- Decreased appetite
- Pain at injection site
In addition, it may cause some other allergic or unwanted effects. In such cases, seek medical attention immediately.
Effect on organs?
- Liver & Kidney – Patients with pre-existing liver and kidney disease should use Victoza with caution as it may cause hepatic and renal impairment.
- Pancreas – increased incidence of pancreatitis has been observed in few patients on Victoza. Patients with pre-existing pancreatitis should avoid the use of Victoza.
Reported Allergic Reactions?
Allergic reactions with Victoza have been reported. Inform your doctor if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Signs of allergic reaction include:
- Rashes/itching of the skin
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Loss of consciousness
- Angioedema (painless swelling under the skin)
Drug Interactions to Be Careful About
- Drug interactions refer to the effect of drugs on each other and on the human body after ingestion. There are large numbers of medicines which have shown to interact with each other.
- It is always advisable that the patient must inform the doctor about all the drugs/over the counter products/vitamin supplements used while using Victoza.
- Interaction studies have not shown any clinically relevant changes in the absorption of other drugs when on Victoza.
Shows Effects / Results In:
Victoza starts showing its effect immediately following its subcutaneous administration and has a long duration of action of 24 hours.
Is Victoza addictive?
No habit forming tendency has been reported with Victoza.
Can I have Victoza with alcohol?
Consumption of alcohol is not recommended when on Victoza therapy as it may interfere with blood glucose levels of patients. It is best not to drink alcohol when on Victoza therapy. Consult your doctor for further recommendations.
Any particular food item to be avoided?
Avoid foods which have high glucose content and follow a strict diet to control blood glucose level along with Victoza therapy.
Can I have Victoza when pregnant?
- Victoza is not recommended during pregnancy as abnormal blood glucose levels during pregnancy are associated with a higher incidence of congenital abnormalities.
- Insulin should be preferred to Victoza in case of need in pregnant females.
- Consult your doctor in case if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant for case-specific recommendations.
Can I have Victoza when feeding a baby?
- Victoza is not recommended for use while you are breastfeeding as it is not known whether Liraglutide is excreted in human breast milk or not.
- Consult your doctor for case-specific recommendations.
Can I drive after taking Victoza?
Victoza intake doesn’t affect your ability to drive. However hypoglycaemia caused due to overdosage or skipping meals and hyperglycaemia due to improper dosage may cause drowsiness, fatigue, impaired concentration, sleepiness etc which may hinder with driving and operating heavy machinery.
What happens if I overdose on Victoza?
- Victoza should never be administered in more than prescribed dose.
- Taking more medication or with increased frequency may cause serious Hypoglycaemia (symptoms of which have been mentioned above)
- If suspected of an over-dosage, seek medical care immediately.
What happens if I take expired Victoza?
- A single dose of expired Victoza may not cause any major adverse effect. However, the potency of the medicine may well have decreased over time and it may cause hyperglycaemia (increased blood glucose levels).
- Please inform your physician regarding the same if expired medicines have been taken chronically for a longer duration.
What happens if I miss a dose of Victoza?
- The medicine may not work well if you miss a dose as it may lead to hyperglycaemia and poor glucose control.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. But, if it’s already time to take the second dose – do not take a double dose.
Storage Requirements for Victoza
- Store at a cool and dry place away from direct heat and moisture.
- Do not freeze the medicine
- Keep medicines away from children and pets.
Pro Tips When Taking Victoza
- Victoza should be administered along with nonpharmacologic therapy (proper dietary modification, weight control and exercise) to achieve best results. In early type 2 diabetes, only non-pharmacologic therapy may well provide ideal results.
- Victoza should be administered with caution in patients with a history of pancreatitis and medullary thyroid carcinoma.