In recent years, the landscape of weight management and type 2 diabetes treatment has seen significant advancements with the introduction of medications like Ozempic and Wegovy.

Both medications belong to the class of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) and have garnered attention for their efficacy in promoting weight loss and improving glycemic control.

In this article, we will explore and compare the key features, mechanisms of action, dosing regimens, and clinical efficacy of Ozempic and Wegovy to provide insights into their respective roles in managing weight and diabetes.

Differences Between Ozempic and Wegovy

ParametersOzempicWegovy
Cost (manufacturer’s suggested retail price)$935.77 per month$1,349.02 per package
Active ingredientSemaglutideSemaglutide
Approved indicationsAdults with type 2 diabetes, including those with known heart conditions.Adults with obesity or overweight with weight-related conditions, and obese adolescents aged 12-17.
Ease of useWeekly injectionWeekly injection
EffectivenessAfter 68 weeks, patients on a 1.0 mg dose lost 7% of their weight.After 104 weeks, patients on a 2.4 mg dose saw an average weight reduction of 35 lbs.
Side effectsNausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation occurred in at least 5% of patients.Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, and headache.
Dosage and administrationBegins with a 0.25 mg weekly injection, which may increase to 0.5 mg weekly, with a maximum of 2 mg weekly.Begins with a weekly dosage of 0.25 mg, gradually raised to 1.7 mg or 2.4 mg per week within 17 weeks.
Weight loss onset4 to 5 months.1 to 2 months

Efficacy in Weight Loss

In this section, we explore how effective Ozempic and Wegovy are in facilitating weight loss, based on studies and clinical investigations.

Ozempic

Ozempic (semaglutide) isn’t specifically studied for weight loss because it’s primarily prescribed for managing type 2 diabetes. However, weight loss has been observed as a side effect during treatment. 

Below are investigations into semaglutide’s efficacy regarding weight reduction:

  • SUSTAIN 1: This global trial compared semaglutide once-weekly to placebo in type 2 diabetes patients who had never used medications before. Over 30 weeks, those on 0.5 mg and 1.0 mg lost 8.23 lbs and 9.99 lbs, respectively, while those on placebo lost 2.16 lbs.
  • SUSTAIN 2: In a 56-week trial, patients on weekly injectable semaglutide saw greater weight reductions compared to daily oral sitagliptin. Semaglutide 0.5 mg and 1.0 mg led to reductions of 9.48 lbs and 13.45 lbs, respectively, while sitagliptin users experienced an average reduction of 4.19 lbs.
  • SUSTAIN 3: In this trial, subjects with type 2 diabetes taking oral antidiabetic drugs were randomly assigned to either semaglutide 1.0 mg or exenatide ER 2.0 mg for 56 weeks. Mean body weight (211.2 lbs at baseline) decreased by 12.35 lbs with semaglutide and 4.19 lbs with exenatide ER.
  • SUSTAIN 4: This trial evaluated the efficacy and safety of semaglutide versus insulin glargine in patients with type 2 diabetes insufficiently controlled with metformin (with or without sulfonylureas). At week 30, semaglutide at doses of 0.5 mg and 1.0 mg resulted in weight reductions of 7.65 lbs and 11.39 lbs, respectively, while patients on insulin glargine experienced a weight gain of 2.54 lbs.
  • SUSTAIN 5: This trial assessed the efficacy and safety of semaglutide as an add-on to basal insulin. Mean body weight decreased with semaglutide 0.5 and 1.0 mg vs. placebo from baseline to end of treatment by 8.16 lbs, 14.11 lbs, and 3.09 lbs, respectively.

Wegovy

The STEP program investigated the efficacy of Wegovy for weight loss. Participants were selected based on their body mass index (BMI), excluding individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, except for STEP 2. The trials used a weekly experimental dose of 2.4 mg administered subcutaneously.

Here are the findings from the STEP trials:

  • STEP 1: The 68-week study examined how semaglutide compares to a placebo. On average, those taking semaglutide lost 33.73 lbs, while those on the placebo only lost 5.73 lbs.
  • STEP 2: In this trial, participants diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and overweight or obese were compared over 68 weeks. Those on the higher dose of semaglutide (2.4 mg) experienced an average reduction of 21.38 lbs, compared to 5.51 lbs in the 1.0 mg group and 2.87 lbs in the placebo group.
  • STEP 3: Participants in this trial were randomly assigned to receive either semaglutide 2.4 mg or a placebo, along with intensive behavioral therapy to promote healthier lifestyle habits. By week 68, those on semaglutide experienced an average weight reduction of 37.04 lbs, compared to 13.67 lbs in the placebo group.
  • STEP 4: In this trial, participants initially received semaglutide 2.4 mg for 20 weeks before being randomly assigned to continue with semaglutide or switch to a placebo for 48 weeks. Those who stayed on semaglutide lost an average of 15.65 lbs by week 68, while those who switched to placebo gained 13.45 lbs.
  • STEP 5: In the trial, semaglutide was compared to a placebo, with both groups following a reduced-calorie meal plan and increased physical activity for two years. Participants on semaglutide achieved an average weight loss of 35 lbs by week 104, whereas the placebo group saw a reduction of only 6 lbs.

Side Effects

Individuals should know the potential side effects of Ozempic or Wegovy.

Man Experiencing Nausea on Couch

Ozempic

Adverse reactions which occurred in at least 5% of patients treated with Ozempic in placebo-controlled trials include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation

Other side effects include:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Injection site reactions
  • Increases in amylase and lipase
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fatigue, dysgeusia, and dizziness
  • Other gastrointestinal adverse reactions (dyspepsia, eructation, flatulence, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and gastritis)

Ozempic may also have potential risks or safety concerns that users need to be aware of, such as:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Acute Kidney Injury
  • Risk of Thyroid C-Cell Tumors
  • Hypersensitivity

Wegovy

Common adverse reactions in adult clinical trials with Wegovy, occurring more frequently than in placebo-treated patients and with an incidence of 2% or higher, include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dyspepsia
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal Distension
  • Eructation
  • Hypoglycemia in T2DM
  • Flatulence
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
  • Gastritis (includes chronic gastritis, gastritis, gastritis erosive, and reflux gastritis)
  • Gastroenteritis Viral
  • Hair Loss

In addition, here are adverse reactions noted in 3% or more of pediatric patients treated with 2.4 mg Wegovy.

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Nasopharyngitis
  • Dizziness
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Constipation
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
  • Sinusitis
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Ligament sprain
  • Anxiety
  • Hair Loss
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Eructation
  • Influenza
  • Rash
  • Urticaria

Other observed reactions in adults and/or pediatric patients include:

  • Acute Pancreatitis
  • Acute Gallbladder Disease
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Acute Kidney Injury
  • Retinal Disorders in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes
  • Increase in Heart Rate 
  • Hypotension and Syncope
  • Appendicitis 
  • Gastrointestinal Adverse Reactions
  • Injection Site Reactions
  • Hypersensitivity Reactions (anaphylaxis, angioedema)
  • Dysgeusia
  • Laboratory Abnormalities (increased Amylase and Lipase, and Liver Enzymes)

It’s also important for users to consider potential risks or safety factors associated with Wegovy, such as:

  • Risk of Thyroid C-Cell Tumors 
  • Diabetic Retinopathy Complications in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes 
  • Suicidal Behavior and Ideation

Active Ingredient and Mechanism of Action

Ozempic and Wegovy both contain the active ingredient semaglutide, which belongs to the class of medications known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs).

The mechanism of action for both medications involves mimicking the action of the hormone GLP-1 in the body. GLP-1 is naturally produced in the intestines in response to food intake and helps regulate blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin release, reducing glucagon secretion (which lowers blood sugar), slowing gastric emptying, and promoting satiety (feeling of fullness).

By acting as GLP-1 receptor agonists, both Ozempic and Wegovy enhance these effects, leading to improved blood sugar control, reduced appetite, and potential weight loss.

Approved Indications

Ozempic and Wegovy were developed for specific purposes during clinical trials. This resulted in their distinct approved uses.

Ozempic

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Ozempic for adults with type 2 diabetes to aid in blood sugar management and to reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in those with known heart conditions.

Ozempic comes with certain limitations regarding its use. These are:

  • Ozempic is not recommended as the initial therapy for patients who have not achieved adequate control through diet and exercise alone.
  • It has not been studied in patients with a history of pancreatitis. In such cases, alternative antidiabetic therapies should be considered.
  • Ozempic is not indicated for use in type 1 diabetes mellitus or for the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis.

Wegovy

Wegovy is FDA-approved alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for long-term weight management in two distinct populations:

  1. Adults with an initial body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m² or higher (classified as obese) or 27 kg/m² or higher (classified as overweight) with at least one weight-related comorbid condition such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, or dyslipidemia.
  1. Pediatric patients aged 12 years and older with an initial BMI at or above the 95th percentile standardized for age and sex (classified as obese).

Avoid using Wegovy with other products containing semaglutide or any other GLP-1 receptor agonist, as the safety and effectiveness of such combinations are not established. Additionally, Wegovy has not been studied in patients with a history of pancreatitis.

In specific populations:

  • Pregnancy: Wegovy poses a risk of harm to a developing fetus. Discontinue Wegovy immediately upon detection of pregnancy.
  • Geriatric: In a cardiovascular outcomes trial, participants aged 75 years and older showed a higher frequency of hip and pelvis fractures while using Wegovy compared to the placebo group. Additionally, this age group experienced a higher occurrence of serious adverse reactions than younger adults in both the Wegovy and placebo groups.

In addition to their approved indications, Ozempic and Wegovy have contraindications that need to be considered. Both are contraindicated in individuals with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or in patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2.

For women planning pregnancy, the use of Ozempic or Wegovy should be discontinued at least two months before conception due to the long washout period for semaglutide.

Dosage and Administration

The primary difference in dosage and administration between Ozempic and Wegovy lies in their intended uses and recommended regimens.

Ozempic

Patients typically start with a 0.25 mg injection once weekly for four weeks to begin treatment, followed by an increase to 0.5 mg once weekly.

If further regulation of blood sugar is necessary following a minimum of four weeks on the 0.5 mg dosage, the dose may be increased to 1 mg administered once weekly. The maximum recommended weekly dose is 2 mg.

Wegovy

The Wegovy is the first and only GLP-1 RA designed for chronic weight management, featuring convenient once-weekly dosing. Its single-use design ensures accurate dosing, with the integrated needle providing seamless administration.

The dosage schedule for Wegovy typically involves a gradual escalation over several weeks:

  • Week 1 to 4: 0.25 mg once weekly
  • Week 5 to 8: 0.5 mg once weekly
  • Week 9 to 12: 1 mg once weekly
  • Week 13 to 16: 1.7 mg once weekly

After the escalation period, the recommended maintenance dosage is 2.4 mg once weekly. The 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, and 1 mg once-weekly dosages are only for initiation and escalation purposes.

For pediatric patients, if the 2.4 mg once-weekly dosage is not tolerated, it may be reduced to 1.7 mg once weekly. Discontinuation is necessary if the patient cannot tolerate the 1.7 mg once-weekly dosage.

Comparing the dosing schedule of Ozempic and Wegovy:

MedicationStarting DoseTitration DoseMaximum Dose
Month 1Month 2Month 3Month 4Month 5+
Ozempic0.25 mg once weekly0.25 mg per week0.5 mg per week0.5-1.0 mg per week1.0-2.0 mg per week1.0-2.0 mg per week2.0 mg once weekly
Wegovy0.25 mg once weekly0.25 mg per week0.5 mg per week1.0 mg per week1.0-1.7  mg per week1.7-2.4  mg per week2.4 mg once weekly

Cost

Both Ozempic and Wegovy are manufactured by Novo Nordisk. In the US, Ozempic costs $935.77 per package, while Wegovy is priced at $1,349.02 per package.

Without insurance, obtaining Ozempic or Wegovy can be financially challenging due to their high costs. Many individuals in the US seek more affordable options, often turning to Canadian pharmacies like Pharma Giant.

At Pharma Giant, savings of up to 90% on prescription medications such as Ozempic are available. Customers can also enjoy additional discounts and offers when ordering larger quantities. New customers can use the coupon code FIRST10 for a 10% discount on their first order.

Patients can save even more money when ordering Ozempic on quantity. For example, one Ozempic can costs $429.69 however six pens are available for $2429.94 ($404.94/pen).

Pharma Giant promises expedited delivery, with medications typically arriving within 3-5 business days. Strict measures are taken to package temperature-sensitive medications securely.

For reference, here’s a price comparison of common weight loss drugs available on Pharma Giant with those found in online pharmacies in the US:

Brand NamePharma GiantWalgreensCVS PharmacyRite Aid
Ozempic$429.69$1,141$1,131$1,250
Saxenda$515$1,640$1,590$1,738
Mounjaro$158.99$1,284$1,261$1,044
Victoza$250$969$656$737
Trulicity$282$1,106$1,167$1,263

Weight Loss Onset

Individual factors such as physical activity, diet, and overall health can influence the effectiveness of Wegovy or Ozempic and impact how quickly the medications begin to take effect.

Ozempic

It takes 4 to 5 weeks for Ozempic to reach a steady level in the system. While some individuals may notice improvements within the first four weeks, full effects are usually noticeable after at least eight weeks of treatment. Weight loss typically occurs within the first 4 to 5 months of starting treatment.

Wegovy

Similar to Ozempic, Wegovy also requires time to take effect and typically reaches a steady state in the body after 4-5 weeks, ensuring consistent drug levels and preventing fluctuations.

Clinical trials have demonstrated that weight loss begins almost immediately with Wegovy. On average, patients experience a 5% reduction in body weight after one month and an 8% reduction after two months.

Wrap-Up

Ozempic and Wegovy are two leading medications for weight management and type 2 diabetes treatment. With shared mechanisms of action, both drugs have demonstrated efficacy in facilitating weight loss and improving glycemic control, offering patients valuable options for managing their health.

Despite their effectiveness, it’s important to note that both Ozempic and Wegovy may lead to adverse effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, particularly during the initial weeks of treatment.

The decision between Ozempic and Wegovy depends on various individual patient factors, including preferences and affordability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Wegovy have more side effects than Ozempic?

Wegovy and Ozempic exhibit comparable side effect profiles, yet Wegovy’s potential side effects may be more pronounced due to its higher semaglutide dosage.

Can I switch from Ozempic to Wegovy or vice versa?

Yes, switching from Ozempic to Wegovy is possible. If your healthcare provider deems it appropriate to switch from Ozempic to Wegovy (or vice versa), they will collaborate with you to determine the suitable dosage. For instance, they might suggest initiating the new medication at a lower dose and gradually adjusting as needed.

Are there other alternatives to Ozempic and Wegovy?

If semaglutide proves ineffective, causes excessive side effects, or is unavailable, patients with type 2 diabetes have several alternative treatment options. These alternatives include other GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Mounjaro (tirzepatide), Rybelsus (semaglutide), and Victoza (liraglutide). The options for weight loss medications include Saxenda (liraglutide) and phentermine.

Should I take Ozempic or Wegovy?

Your doctor will consider various factors before recommending a prescription medication, including your medical records, health history, and current FDA guidelines. These factors are important in determining the most suitable treatment option for you. If your priority is controlling blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes, Ozempic is likely the appropriate choice. However, if weight management is your main concern and you seek a medication to aid in weight loss, then Wegovy may be the preferred option.

Can Ozempic and Wegovy be used together?

No. It’s important not to take Wegovy and Ozempic concurrently. Both medications contain semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist. Using these medications together could lead to potential complications or adverse effects.

Do Ozempic and Wegovy have generic versions?

No. The FDA cautions against using “generic” versions of Ozempic and Wegovy, emphasizing that no approved generic alternatives exist for these drugs.

Is Ozempic better than Wegovy for weight loss?

No. Based on the results of the STEP 2 trial, individuals administered the higher dose of semaglutide (2.4 mg) witnessed an average weight reduction of 21.38 lbs, in contrast to 5.51 lbs in the 1.0 mg semaglutide group and 2.87 lbs in the placebo group.

Can Wegovy or Ozempic interact with other medications?

Yes, because both Wegovy and Ozempic contain the same active ingredient, they also exhibit similar drug interactions. As reported by Drugs.com, both medications share a total of 251 drug interactions. Among these, two interactions are classified as major, 248 interactions are considered moderate, and one interaction is categorized as minor. Commonly encountered drugs in these interactions include losartan, albuterol, and metformin.

Which is safer, Ozempic or Wegovy?

Studies have shown the safety and effectiveness of both Ozempic and Wegovy in clinical trials. Nevertheless, the safety of a medication may differ based on an individual’s medical background, including factors like existing conditions, allergies, and concurrent medications.

What weight loss drug is more effective than Wegovy?

A recently approved weight loss medication, Zepbound, exhibits promising efficacy that surpasses that of Wegovy. Moreover, Zepbound offers a slightly more affordable option than Wegovy, priced at $1,060 for a 28-day supply.

Can you drink alcohol while taking Wegovy or Ozempic?

While the direct interaction between Ozempic or Wegovy and alcohol is minimal, your doctor may advise you to abstain from or reduce alcohol consumption during treatment. This precaution is warranted due to the potential exacerbation of certain side effects associated with Wegovy or Ozempic when combined with alcohol. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance in this matter.

How long do people stay on Wegovy or Ozempic?

The duration for which individuals stay on Wegovy or Ozempic can vary depending on various factors, including their response to the medication, treatment goals, and individual healthcare provider recommendations. In general, these medications are often prescribed as long-term treatments for managing weight loss or type 2 diabetes. Many individuals may continue using Wegovy or Ozempic for an extended period, potentially even indefinitely, as long as they continue to benefit from the medication and experience no significant adverse effects. However, the specific duration of treatment should be determined in consultation with a healthcare professional, who can provide personalized guidance based on individual needs and circumstances.

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