Key points about Victoza

  • Victoza is used to treat type 2 diabetes.
  • Victoza is also called liraglutide.
  • Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects.
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Victoza is used to treat type 2 diabetes and to protect you from having a heart attack or stroke. Victoza also protects your kidneys and may help you to live longer. Read more about type 2 diabetes.

Victoza lowers your blood glucose in several ways, including by helping your pancreas produce more insulin after meals, slowing down how quickly food is absorbed and reducing your appetite. This is one reason people on Victoza usually lose weight. Victoza can be used alone or with other diabetes medicines (such as metformin or insulin), along with healthy eating and regular exercise. Victoza is available as an injection given under your skin.


Is Victoza the same as insulin?

Although Victoza is an injection, it is NOT insulin.

  • Victoza helps your body to release its own insulin just when you need it, improving blood glucose control throughout the day.
  • Unlike insulin it won't cause weight gain or low blood glucose levels (hypoglycaemia) when used alone. 

Always use Victoza exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to use, how often to take it and any special instructions.

  • The starting dose is 0.6 mg once a day, for at least one week.
  • Your doctor will tell you when to increase it to 1.2 mg once a day.
  • Your doctor may tell you to further increase the dose to 1.8 mg once a day, if your blood glucose is not adequately controlled with a dose of 1.2 mg per day.

Don't change your dose unless your doctor has told you to. 

Victoza comes as a pen injection

Victoza comes as a ready-to-use injection pen, which is pre-filled with the medicine. One pen has 30 doses of 0.6 mg, 15 doses of 1.2 mg or 10 doses of 1.8 mg.

The Victoza pen has a dose selector that makes it easy for you to select your dose. If you selected a wrong dose by mistake, you can change it by turning the dose selector backwards or forwards until the right dose lines up with the pointer.

Use Victoza once a day

You can have your dose at any time of the day, with or without food. When you have found the most convenient time of the day, it's best to inject Victoza around the same time of the day.

Victoza pens are not pre-fitted with needles

A suitably sized needle has to be attached to the pen. Your pharmacist will advise you on which needles are funded. Always use a new needle for each injection.

Change (rotate) your injection site each day

The best places to give yourself the injection are the front of your thighs, abdomen (tummy), or your upper arm.

Change (rotate) your injection site each day. You can use the same area of your body, but be sure to choose a different injection site in that area. Don't inject into skin that is sore, bruised, red, hard, scarred or skin that has stretch marks or psoriasis plaques.

Image of injection sites







Image credit: Amgen

If you forget your dose of Victoza

If you forget a dose, use Victoza as soon as you remember. However, if it's more than 12 hours since you should have used Victoza, skip the missed dose. Then take your next dose as usual the following day. Don't take an extra dose or increase the dose on the following day to make up for the missed dose.

If you're unwell

Most people tend to have raised blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) when they're unwell, so it's important to continue taking your diabetes medicine.  Victoza usually doesn't cause problems if you are slightly unwell. If you're dehydrated, with vomiting (being sick) and diarrhoea (runny poo) and not eating and drinking as usual, you may need to stop your injections until you feel better. Let your healthcare provider know if this happens so they can advise on whether you need to stop, and when to re-start. 

Read more about sick day plans for people with type 2 diabetes.

Credit: Healthify He Puna Waiora (formerly known as Health Navigator NZ), 2023.

Descriptive transcript: How to take liraglutide. [PDF, 308 KB]

Watch: How to take liraglutide(external link) n te reo Māori.

Pregnancy and contraception

If you're pregnant, think you may be pregnant, or are planning to have a baby, ask your doctor for advice as Victoza is not currently recommended during pregnancy.

Research has found that Victoza may increase the likelihood of some women returning to normal ovulation. If you're sexually active and don't want to become pregnant, you should use effective means of contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancy. Read more about contraception.

Before opening
Store Victoza in the fridge, in the original package. Do not freeze. If your pen has been frozen, do not use it.

During use
You can keep the pen for 1 month when stored at room temperature (below 30°C) or in a refrigerator (2°C– 8°C). Don't freeze it.

When you're not using the pen, keep the pen cap on in order to protect from light.

It's important to get rid of your used needles safely. Keep them out of reach of children and pets, and places where they could hurt others. You can do this by buying a sharps container from your pharmacy. This is a special container made of hard plastic that has a tight-fitting lid so used needles and syringes can be stored securely.

Don't flush used needles down the toilet or put them in household or public rubbish or recycle bins. Once your sharps container is full, take it to your pharmacy for safe disposal. 

Like all medicines, Victoza can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. 

Common side effects

These are usually mild and go away with time. Talk to your healthcare team if these side effects cause you problems or don’t go away.

Nausea (feeling sick)

This is quite a common side effect with Victoza. It is worst for the first 2 or 3 days when you start having the injection and gets better with time. Here are some tips to ease the nausea:

  • eat smaller meals and more slowly
  • stop eating when you are full
  • avoid eating 2 hours before bed
  • avoid fried or fatty foods and alcohol.

Reaction at the injection site

  • Some people may get mild redness, itch or bruising at the injection site.
  • Remember to change the injection site every day.
  • You can use the same part of your body but try not to use exactly the same spot.

Other side effects

  • Runny poo (diarrhoea), constipation, tummy pain, indigestion and headache are also common. 
Rare, serious side effects 

Tell your healthcare team or phone Healthline 0800 611 116 immediately if you notice these side effects and tell them you are taking Victoza.

Signs of low blood glucose (hypoglycaemia)

  • Signs include feeling weak, faint, dizzy or irritable. You may also get a headache, tremor (shakes) or blurred vision.
  • Low blood glucose is very rare if you're taking Victoza alone, but if you're taking Victoza with other medicines for diabetes (eg, glipizide, gliclazide or insulin), there's a risk of low blood glucose.
  • This is most likely to occur if you delay or miss a meal or snack, drink alcohol, exercise more than usual or can't eat because of nausea or vomiting.
  • If this happens, drink something sweet such as a small glass of sweetened soft drink or fruit juice, or eat something sweet like lollies. Follow this up with a snack such as a sandwich. Tell your doctor or nurse if this happens.
  • Read more about hypoglycaemia and diabetes sick day plans.

Other side effects

  • Signs of an inflamed pancreas (pancreatitis) such as severe pain in your stomach and back.
  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat, problems breathing or swallowing, severe rash or itching, fainting or feeling dizzy, or a very rapid heartbeat.


5 questions to ask about your medications

5 questions to ask about your medications

Health Quality and Safety Commission, NZ, 2019

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Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist, Healthify He Puna Waiora. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Dr Ryan Paul, Endocrinologist, Hamilton; Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland

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