Victoza Side Effects

by on March 10, 2012


A relatively new medication prescribed to patients with type 2 diabetes, Victoza was federally approved for use in the United States in 2010, a year after it was approved by the European Medicines Agency. Even though it is FDA approved, there are several side effects of Victoza that may pose risks to certain users. Most are mild, gastrointestinal symptoms that will subside with continued use, but recent studies have indicated that more serious risks of thyroid cancer and pancreatitis.

Common Victoza Side Effects

Based on clinical trials conducted over the course of one year, along with other shorter studies including 5 26-week clinical trials, the most common side effects are gastrointestinal and the symptoms typically improve over time. These side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Dyspepsia (bloating, nausea, a full sensation after very little food is consumed, upper abdominal pain)

Depending on the other medications prescribed to the patient, additional Victoza side effects may occur. Some of the most commonly experienced symptoms when Victoza is taken with Glimepiride, Metformin, and similar medications may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Upper respiratory infection

Rarely, Victoza users may experience hypertension or symptoms of anorexia as a result of certain medication combinations. If any of these side effects persist or interfere with your daily activities, contact your doctor to discuss other options that may work better for you.

Serious Victoza Side Effects

Victoza Side EffectsA small number of patients who took part in the clinical trials experienced more severe side effects. These may include:

  • Rash or reddening of the skin around the injection site
  • A slight increase in serum bilirubin levels
  • Acute renal failure
  • Worsening of chronic renal failure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Papillary thyroid carcinoma

Contact your doctor immediately if you notice jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, or if there are any changes in your urination patterns.

Victoza Warnings - Thyroid Cancer & Pancreatitis

In June 2011, the FDA issued a safety alert for Victoza citing the risks of Thyroid Cancer & Pancreatitis.

Thyroid Cancer

The relationship between malignant thyroid C-cell carcinomas and the use of Victoza is still unknown but studies suggest that there may be a risk for some individuals. Patients who take Victoza may experience elevations in the level of serum calcitonin in their body. This is often a sign of thyroid cancer. Calcitonin levels should be assessed before Victoza is prescribed and monitored throughout the use of the medication. Seek the advice of an endocrinologist if these levels are high. Patients with a family history of thyroid cancer or thyroid tumors should speak to their physician about the risks and benefits of Victoza.


At least 7 cases of pancreatitis have been confirmed in Victoza users but it is not clear if the medication was to blame for the condition. Out of 5 acute incidents and 2 that were determined to be chronic pancreatitis, one case resulted in death. The patients that were affected had underlying conditions that imposed increased risks of pancreatitis, so the actual cause cannot be determined. Until further research is conducted, patients at risk for pancreatitis may benefit from examining alternative options. If you are taking Victoza and experience severe abdominal pain, back pain, or vomiting, stop use immediately and seek emergency care.

Victoza and Hypoglycemia

In very rare cases, the side effects of Victoza may include hypoglycemia. Victoza is a glucose-dependent medication, meaning it detects the body’s blood sugar levels and only stimulates insulin production when these levels become too high, so the risk of hypoglycemia is extremely low. However, certain medications that may be prescribed with Victoza, particularly those that also stimulate the secretion of insulin, can increase the chance of developing hypoglycemia.

In most cases, patients who suffer from hypoglycemia as a result of taking Victoza can treat the condition at home without visiting their doctor. Be sure your physician is aware of all medications you are currently taking before beginning Victoza.

Victoza can be very beneficial to patients who suffer from type 2 diabetes. This medication is an effective way to prevent hyperglycemia but there are a number of side effects that may raise concern. Discuss the risks and benefits of Victoza with your doctor before deciding if it is right for you.