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Wegovy vs Ozempic: Which Is Better For Weight Loss?

Published on
Updated on
Wegovy vs Ozempic: Which Is Better For Weight Loss?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Wegovy and Ozempic are both GLP-1 medications containing the active ingredient semaglutide. 
  • Ozempic is FDA-approved for treating type 2 diabetes in adults, but it can be prescribed off-label for weight management. Wegovy is FDA-approved for treating chronic overweight and obesity in adults and adolescents. 
  • Though clinical trials show Wegovy produces more significant weight loss results, barriers such as increased cost and side effects may make Ozempic a better option for some.

If you’re on a weight management journey, you may have heard of GLP-1 receptor agonist medications like Wegovy and Ozempic.

These medications can help regulate your appetite and food intake, resulting in weight loss. 

There are some differences between the two medications to be aware of, such as dosage, effectiveness, and populations in which they are approved for use. 

This article will cover the similarities and differences between Wegovy and Ozempic, along with how to decide which one to take for weight loss. 

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Wegovy vs Ozempic

Wegovy and Ozempic are two brand-name medications containing the active ingredient semaglutide.

They are in the GLP-1 class of drugs, along with Saxenda, Victoza, and Rybelsus.

Ozempic was created to treat type 2 diabetes, but researchers observed it also helps people lose weight.

After many years of doctors prescribing Ozempic off-label for weight management, Wegovy entered the market in 2021 for treating overweight and obesity.

It contains the same active ingredient but at a higher dose than Ozempic, making it more effective for weight management.  

How Does Wegovy Work?

Wegovy is a once-weekly medication that you administer with an injection into your abdomen, upper arm, or thigh.

Doctors can prescribe Wegovy to treat adults and adolescents with overweight or obesity. 

The active ingredient, semaglutide, works by mimicking glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate appetite and food intake.

As a result, Wegovy slows down the rate of stomach-emptying, helping you feel fuller for longer. 

Wegovy was designed to work in combination with a diet and exercise plan for weight management. 

How Does Ozempic Work?

Similar to Wegovy, Ozempic is also a once-weekly injectable medication containing semaglutide. 

Ozempic was created to treat elevated blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

However, because it can also result in weight loss, some doctors prescribe Ozempic off-label for weight management. 

Because Ozempic is a GLP-1 medication, it behaves like the natural GLP-1 hormone, slowing the rate of gastric emptying.

This helps minimize blood sugar spikes and regulates post-meal blood sugar levels. 

Ozempic stimulates insulin production, which also helps lower blood sugar levels.

In addition, Ozempic can reduce cardiovascular risk in people with type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

Like Wegovy, Ozempic works best in conjunction with dietary and lifestyle changes for type 2 diabetes

Are Wegovy and Ozempic the Same Thing?

Wegovy and Ozempic contain the same active ingredient and are both administered as a once-weekly injection.

The primary difference between the two medications is the dose.

Ozempic is available up to a 2-milligram dose and is used for treating type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy’s recommended dosage is 2.4 milligrams for weight management. 

Differences Between Wegovy and Ozempic for Weight Loss

There are a few key differences between Wegovy and Ozempic to consider when determining which is the best option for you. 

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FDA Approval

Ozempic was FDA-approved in 2017 for improving blood sugar management in people with type 2 diabetes.

It can also be used to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes, in people with type 2 diabetes who have heart disease. 

Wegovy, on the other hand, was approved by the FDA in 2021 to treat:

  • Adults with a BMI of 30 or greater (obesity).
  • Adults with a BMI of 27 or greater (overweight) with at least one other condition like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol. 
  • Children over 12 years old with BMI at or above the 95th percentile for age and sex.

Dosing

Ozempic is available in doses ranging from 0.25 mg to 2 mg, administered as a once-weekly injection.

Doctors advise starting Ozempic at the lowest dose and increasing it every four weeks until the desired level of blood sugar control is reached. 

Wegovy comes in doses between 0.25 mg to 2.4 mg and is administered in the same way as Ozempic.

To minimize side effects, it’s best to start treatment at the lowest dose and increase it every four weeks until you reach a maintenance dose of 1.7 mg or 2.4 mg. 

Average Cost

Most insurance plans cover Ozempic for treating type 2 diabetes, but if you’re using the medication for weight management in the absence of diabetes, you may need to pay for it out-of-pocket.

You can expect Ozempic to cost between $900 and $1000 per month. 

Some insurance plans, including Medicare, do not cover weight management medications like Wegovy.

Without insurance coverage, Wegovy may cost between $1300 and $1400 monthly.

Risks and Side Effects 

Because of the way Ozempic and Wegovy slow down gastric emptying, digestive side effects are the most common. Both medications may cause: 

In addition to these side effects, Wegovy can cause other symptoms because it contains a higher dose of semaglutide.

These include:

  • Headache.
  • Fatigue. 
  • Dizziness. 
  • Bloating. 
  • Belching and gas.
  • Stomach flu. 
  • Heartburn. 
  • Runny nose. 
  • Sore throat. 

These medications can both result in serious side effects in rare cases, like pancreatitis, kidney failure, and gallbladder problems.

You should avoid taking Wegovy or Ozempic if you have a personal or family history of thyroid cancer. 

Effectiveness for Weight Loss

Because Wegovy and Ozempic contain different doses of the same medication (semaglutide), the weight loss results vary between clinical trials depending on the dosage used. 

Wegovy

A 2021 randomized controlled clinical trial on Wegovy found that people with overweight or obesity lost an average of 15% of their body weight after 68 weeks of treatment.

This is equivalent to an average of 35 pounds lost. 

Additionally, one out of every three participants taking Wegovy lost over 20% of their body weight in the same trial. 

The participants took the maximum Wegovy dose of 2.4 mg and participated in prescribed diet and exercise habits for weight loss. 

A 2022 study found that most of the participants taking Wegovy maintained the weight they lost after two years on the medication.

However, a follow-up on the 2021 clinical trial found that many participants regained a significant portion of the weight they lost once they stopped taking Wegovy.

Ozempic

Since Ozempic is meant for treating people with type 2 diabetes, the clinical trials on this medication report weight loss in this population. 

A 2018 clinical trial found that participants with type 2 diabetes who took the 1 mg dose of Ozempic lost an average of 12 pounds (5.6 kilograms) over one year of treatment.

Additionally, over half of the patients lost at least five percent of their body weight. 

Another 2018 clinical trial studied the use of 0.5 mg and 1 mg doses of Ozempic in people with type 2 diabetes on insulin therapy.

It found that 66% of patients lost over 5% of their body weight after 30 weeks. 

How to Choose Between Wegovy or Ozempic for Weight Loss 

If you qualify for Wegovy and Ozempic, there are a few factors to consider when deciding with your doctor which option is best for you.

Based on results from clinical trials, taking Wegovy is more effective for weight loss than Ozempic.

However, since Wegovy contains a higher dose of semaglutide, you may experience more significant side effects. 

In a 2021 clinical trial, 17% of the participants taking Wegovy dropped out of the study.

This is compared with 9.4% of participants who discontinued treatment because of side effects in a 2017 clinical trial on Ozempic.

Additionally, Wegovy may be cost-prohibitive since many insurance plans don’t cover weight loss medications.

If you have type 2 diabetes in addition to overweight or obesity, Ozempic may be a more affordable option for you through insurance. 

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Which Is Better?

At the end of the day, you and your doctor can discuss effectiveness, cost, and side effects to determine whether Wegovy or Ozempic is a better fit for you to support your weight management journey. 

Takeaway

Ozempic and Wegovy are GLP-1 receptor agonist medications containing the active ingredient semaglutide.

Ozempic is approved for treating type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy can be prescribed to people with overweight and obesity. 

Clinical trials show that Wegovy may produce greater weight loss results than Ozempic because it contains a higher dose of semaglutide.

However, Wegovy may come with increased side effects and a lower chance of insurance coverage. 

Managing Weight Loss with an RD 

Doctors recommend making diet and lifestyle changes for weight loss to maximize the effects of Wegovy and Ozempic.

A weight loss registered dietitian can guide you in building sustainable and healthy habits. 

Consider finding a dietitian covered by insurance for more support on your journey to better health. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you replace Ozempic with Wegovy?

If you currently take Ozempic off-label for weight loss, you may be able to replace it with Wegovy. 

Wegovy contains the same active ingredient (semaglutide) as Ozempic but at a higher dose that is more effective for weight management.

It was approved in 2017 for treating people with overweight and obesity. 

However, this is not an option for everyone as many insurance plans don’t cover weight loss medications like Wegovy, and the out-of-pocket cost is high. 

The higher dose of semaglutide in Wegovy may also result in more unpleasant side effects when compared to Ozempic.

How much weight can you lose in a month with Wegovy?

You can expect to lose just over 2% of your body weight after a month on Wegovy.

Because it takes a minimum of 16 weeks to ramp up to the recommended dose of 2.4 mg, you may notice the rate of weight loss increase after this point.

A clinical trial from 2021 found that after 68 weeks of treatment with Wegovy, participants lost an average of 15% of their starting body weight.

What is the cost of Wegovy versus Ozempic?

Wegovy is more expensive than Ozempic, costing between $1300 and $1400 per month without insurance.

The out-of-pocket cost for Ozempic ranges from $900 to $1000 monthly. 

Insurance is likely to cover Ozempic if you take it for type 2 diabetes, whereas taking it off-label for weight loss may not be covered.

Many insurance plans don’t cover weight loss medications, including Wegovy.

References

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