Ozempic vs. Wegovy: Which Is Better for Weight Loss (2023)
Time to read 10 min
Time to read 10 min
Sometimes, it's hard to shed the extra pounds you put on with age. If you're an overweight person who suffers from diabetes, it can be even more challenging to lose weight.
Thousands have turned to popular weight loss medications like Ozempic and Wegovy.
However, most people have difficulty choosing between them because they're so similar.
In this article, we'll go over everything you need to know about Ozempic vs. Wegovy, and help you choose the best option to kickstart your weight loss journey.
Ozempic is a prescription drug manufactured by Novo Nordisk that helps treat diabetes through the active ingredient, semaglutide. It's typically prescribed with a healthy diet and a moderate exercise schedule.
Ozempic helps you control your blood sugar levels to avoid diabetes-associated complications such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and other cardiovascular disease complications.
Over time, due to the common side effect of weight loss, Ozempic also became known as a weight loss drug, which is an off-label use.
Wegovy also contains semaglutide, the same active ingredient in Ozempic, and is manufactured by the same pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk.
The active ingredient is present in a higher concentration in Wegovy, so the dosage is different.
However, unlike Ozempic, Wegovy is mainly used for weight loss, exercise, and meal planning.
Despite having the same active ingredient, Ozempic and Wegovy have two different FDA-approved uses.
In December 2017, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) officially approved Ozempic for treating type 2 diabetes. It was also approved for preventing cardiovascular disease in type 2 diabetics.
Clinical trials overseen by the FDA have proven Ozempic's effectiveness in managing blood sugar levels and improving diabetes. Over three months, people taking Ozempic had a lower HbA1c by over 1%.
This might not seem like a lot, but 1% could make the difference between a diabetic and a completely healthy individual.
Studies have also shown that Ozempic can reduce the likeliness of major adverse cardiovascular events, like stroke, in diabetics.
Ozempic's off-label use for chronic weight management is not FDA-approved.
However, many people who took Ozempic noticed that they lost weight as a side effect, and from there, the off-label use as a weight loss drug began.
In June 2021, the FDA approved the official use of Wegovy for chronic weight management (not an off-label use like Ozempic).
However, to use Wegovy, you have to fulfill one of these two conditions:
Having a BMI of at least 30 kg/m2, or
Having a BMI (body mass index) of at least 27 kg/m2 plus a weight-related condition such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol
Studies outlined in the New England Journal of Medicine showed Wegovy's effectiveness as a weight loss medication. Patients taking Wegovy lost about 15% of the body weight they started out with, which is impressive compared to other weight loss medications.
Although Wegovy isn't FDA-approved for treating diabetes, you should also see some improvement in your blood sugar level control.
Ozempic contains an active ingredient called semaglutide, which is a GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1) receptor agonist.
This means that semaglutide looks like and has the same mechanism of action as a natural hormone in your body called GLP-1.
When Ozempic enters your body, it searches for GLP-1 receptors and activates them.
These receptors are responsible for insulin production and insulin sensitivity in diabetics.
The produced insulin helps lower blood sugar levels, especially after meals, giving you more glycemic control.
As a GLP-1 receptor agonist, Ozempic also prevents your liver from producing too much glycogen, which is then turned into glucose. This helps keep your blood glucose levels in check.
Ozempic also slows down digestion, leading to an increased feeling of satiety (decreased appetite). This, along with its ability to reduce sugar cravings, helps you lose weight and can help you eventually reach your ideal body mass index.
Wegovy has the same mechanism of action as Ozempic since they're both brand names for medications containing semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist.
However, Wegovy's dosing regimen accentuates the slowed digestion and delayed gastric emptying effects, which promote weight loss.
This is because the longer food stays in your stomach, the fuller you'll feel and the less likely you are to overeat.
Since Wegovy and Ozempic contain the same drug, they have the same side effects. However, these side effects are dose-dependent, meaning a higher dose is more likely to cause a side effect.
Since Wegovy doses are typically higher, reaching up to 2.4 mg/week, side effects are reported much more frequently with Wegovy than with Ozempic.
Here are some of the possible side effects to look out for.
Ozempic and Wegovy side effects are typically related to the stomach and intestines since both drugs mimic the gut hormone called GLP-1.
However, these side effects are usually more profound at the beginning of treatment and can also occur when you up the doses. Your healthcare provider will adjust your doses gradually to minimize these side effects.
Some people taking Ozempic have reported having an "Ozempic face", which is mild sagging or aging facial skin.
This is usually caused by the rapid loss in body weight, which is more pronounced in the face. While this is commonly reported with Ozempic, being a new drug, most rapid weight-loss methods can have the same effect.
Some of the ways you can avoid Ozempic face or the facial side effects of weight-loss drugs include:
Drinking more water (at least 1-2L per day)
Following a healthy diet with high protein content
Talking to your dermatologist about fat transfer or using a face filler
In some cases, combining Wegovy or Ozempic with diabetes medications, such as insulin or oral diabetes drugs, can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels).
If you notice any symptoms of low blood sugar, such as shakiness, sweating, paleness, or lightheadedness, you should seek medical help immediately. There could be drug interactions you're unaware of between Wegovy or Ozempic and other prescription drugs you're taking.
If you frequently experience eye problems like blurred vision or eye pain and redness, talk to your ophthalmologist about potential eye-related complications.
Some rarer side effects include kidney disease, gallbladder problems, pancreatitis, and thyroid cancer.
However, the chances of these side effects occurring are extremely low. Thyroid tumours have only been evident in rodent clinical trials, not humans.
Scientifically speaking, Wegovy and Ozempic contain the same drug. They just have different brand names and dosing regimens which lead to different FDA-approved uses.
Here are a few key differences between Wegovy and Ozempic:
Both Ozempic and Wegovy come in the form of injectable, pre-filled pens. They're taken subcutaneously in the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm once a week. It's important to take them on the same day of each week to avoid dose fluctuation.
The main differences between Wegovy and Ozempic are the dosing increments and the dosing regimens.
Wegovy pens contain higher drug doses, with the available concentrations being 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1.0 mg, 1.7 mg, and 2.4 mg. They come with a built-in needle, since Wegovy pens are for one-time use only, meaning you throw away the pen after each dose.
The smallest available dose of both drugs is 0.25 mg because in both cases, you start with 0.25 mg per week and gradually increase the dose.
Here's an example of Wegovy's typical dosing regimen:
Month 1: 0.25 mg/week
Month 2: 0.5 mg/week
Month 3: 1 mg/week
Month 4: 1.7 mg/week
Month 5+: 2.4 mg/week (This is the typical maintenance dose you want to reach and maintain)
On the other hand, Ozempic's typical dosing regimen is much more stable.
Here's an example:
Month 1: 0.25 mg/week
Month 2+: 0.5 mg to 1 mg/week
Another difference between Wegovy and Ozempic is the likelihood of being covered by your insurance plan.
As a treatment for type 2 diabetes, your insurance plan will likely cover Ozempic. You might pay as little as $25 per pen with the best insurance plans.
Wegovy isn't typically covered since it's a weight-loss medication. You'll probably have to pay full price.
Since some insurance plans don't typically cover Wegovy or Ozempic for weight loss, you should consider the long-term costs of using these medications. They can be costly.
A typical one-month supply of Wegovy costs around $1,500, while that of Ozempic costs around $1,000. You might be able to find coupons to save you a few hundred bucks, but you'll still pay several thousand dollars during treatment.
Don't forget, you'll need to take these drugs for a long time to get the most weight loss benefits, so plan your budget and insurance coverage ahead of time.
One potential issue you might have with Ozempic or Wegovy is that they're both subcutaneous injections. You'll need to inject yourself with the drugs, which could be problematic if you suffer from needle phobia.
You should talk to your primary care provider if your fear of needles is so intense that you won't be able to self-administer Ozempic or Wegovy.
However, remember that unlike insulin or other diabetes drugs, Ozempic and Wegovy are taken only once weekly. This might help you slowly overcome your needle phobia and is much more bearable than daily or bi-daily injectables.
Keep in mind that Wegovy and Ozempic aren't magic weight-loss drugs and they're not lifelong medications.
Ozempic and Wegovy are meant to help you lose weight in conjecture with healthy food choices, regular physical activity, and some lifestyle changes. Usually, your doctor will prescribe these weight loss drugs for one to two years to get the most benefits.
You should begin to notice some weight loss within a few weeks of using Wegovy or Ozempic.
One study showed that people taking Wegovy lost about 6% of their initial body weight within 12 weeks of using the drug. By 20 weeks, they'd lost about 10% and at the end of the year, they'd lost about 15%. Of course, these results can vary from one person to another, but they're very promising.
Other studies showed that you can lose 12 to 13 pounds within 26 weeks of taking Ozempic. Some people even lost up to 30 pounds, but those cases weren't as common. You can expect to lose about 5% of your body weight within that timeframe.
In some cases, when you stop taking Wegovy or Ozempic, you might experience some minor weight gain. This is usually because the drugs are no longer suppressing your appetite so you start overeating again.
However, if you've been using Ozempic or Wegovy for 1-2 years along with a protein-rich diet and regular exercise, the chances of regaining weight are minimal.
If you're uncertain, talk to your doctor about gradually reducing the doses before stopping altogether.
Wegovy and Ozempic are not interchangeable because they have different doses and dosing regimens.
If you're taking Wegovy for weight loss or Ozempic for type 2 diabetes, you should consult your doctor before switching medications.
Ozempic and Wegovy contain the same active ingredient but have different dosing regimens, indications, and concentrations. However, they're powerful weight-loss medications that can help you shed those extra pounds.
Just remember, even with Wegovy or Ozempic, you still need to put in the time and effort exercising and planning your meals.
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