If you are considering using weight loss medications to help you lose weight, you may have heard about Ozempic® or Mounjaro®. Ozempic in particular has been in the news recently for its ability to help people lose weight, even though it is not FDA approved for weight loss. Mounjaro, while not as well known, has shown even greater weight loss benefit in clinical trials. Keep reading if you are curious about these two medications, how they work, their possible side effects, and which could be right for you.
Ozempic or Mounjaro? Making the Right Choice for Your Body
Mounjaro and Ozempic are both FDA approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and they share some similarities when it comes to side effects. But these two medications act differently in the way they target hormones in the body.
All About Ozempic
Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable medication which is a type of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. It works by mimicking the hormone GLP-1 that our bodies naturally produce. GLP-1 acts on the pancreas to stimulate the release of insulin which lowers blood sugar and acts on the brain to decrease appetite and cravings. GLP-1 receptor agonists have been widely used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and more recently they have gained attention for their use as weight loss medications.
All About Mounjaro
Tirzepatide, known by the brand name Mounjaro, is a once-weekly injectable medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Mounjaro is in a class of its own when it comes to type 2 diabetes medications. It is the first single molecule that has the ability to mimic two naturally occurring hormones in the body that help to lower blood sugar: Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).
Mounjaro vs Ozempic: Get the Facts
If you are considering getting a prescription for Mounjaro or Ozempic, you will want to understand more about these medications to know which might be right for you.
Ozempic is a medication that is FDA-approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in combination with healthy nutrition and physical activity. It is also FDA-approved to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events (e.g heart attack, stroke, or death) in adults with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease. It contains the same active ingredient (semaglutide) as Wegovy, an FDA-approved medication for weight loss.
Like Ozempic, Mounjaro has been FDA approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The FDA has not yet approved Mounjaro (tirzepatide) for obesity, but that is likely to change in the near future based on how effective this drug has been for weight loss in clinical trials.
Different Forms of Dosage
While both medications are weekly injections, they are administered via different mechanisms. Ozempic comes in a pen with varying doses.There are 3 different Ozempic® pens (0.25 mg/0.5 mg, 1 mg and 2 mg), and each requires a new prescription. The pen that administers both the 0.25 mg and 0.5 mg doses contains a total of 8 doses of 0.25 mg or 4 doses of 0.5 mg. Most patients use this pen to take 4 doses of the starting dose (0.25 mg) then 2 doses of the next highest dose (0.5 mg) before switching to a new pen. The pens for the 1mg and 2 mg doses of Ozempic each contain 4 doses.
Mounjaro also has different dosing options, but each pen is an autoinjector with a single dose. Patients start on 2.5 mg weekly. After 4 weeks, if the medication is tolerated, the dose is increased to 5 mg weekly. This continues every 4 weeks until a maximum dose of 15 mg weekly or a maximum tolerated dose is reached. A new prescription is needed for every dose adjustment.
You may qualify for Ozempic or Mounjaro if you have type 2 diabetes. Please note that even if you have type 2 diabetes, these medications may still not be appropriate for you. Your medical history, current medications, and insurance benefits will be taken into consideration during a discussion with your doctor prior to receiving a prescription.
FDA-approved medications that promote weight loss but are FDA-approved for other indications (such as diabetes or migraines) may be prescribed by FORM doctors. They can help people lose weight by decreasing appetite and cravings, and improving sensitivity to insulin.
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Mounjaro (tirzepatide) and Ozempic (semaglutide) insurance coverage depends on your insurance plan – whether or not it covers certain medications and under what circumstances medications are covered. Note that medication coverage is considered part of the insurance plan benefits. While weight loss medications are often not covered by insurance companies, medications like Ozempic and Mounjaro, which are both FDA-approved for type 2 diabetes, may be covered. To best determine what medications are covered by your plan, you can review your plan’s drug formulary which is a list of generic and brand name prescription drugs that are covered by your prescription drug plan.Even if a medication is noted to be covered with a prior authorization, this is not an assurance that it will be covered for you specifically based on your medical history.
Like all medications, both options carry risks of side effects that need to be taken into consideration.
The most common side effects of both Ozempic and Mounjaro include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, stomach upset, and heartburn. Patients typically start on the lowest dose of the medication to allow the body to adjust, then gradually increase the dose with close monitoring for difficulty tolerating the medication. Rare but more serious potential side effects include gallbladder disease and pancreatitis. It is always important to monitor for side effects and discuss with your healthcare provider should they arise. Ozempic and Mounjaro should not be used if you are pregnant or have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or MEN 2A/2B syndrome. It has also been shown to increase the risk of stomach paralysis and potential for mood disorders.
Avoiding certain foods can help lessen side effects while taking Mounjaro.
Weight Loss Results
The amount of weight one can lose while taking Ozempic or Mounjaro will vary from person to person as weight loss is influenced by a variety of factors including nutrition, physical activity, medical history, and other medications you may be taking. Ozempic has not been specifically studied for weight loss as it was FDA-approved for the treatment of diabetes with the focus being reduction in hemoglobin A1c. However, it is commonly used off-label for weight loss in place of Wegovy® (semaglutide) which contains the same active ingredient as Ozempic. A study found that at the highest dose of Wegovy (2.4 mg), patients lost on average 15% of their total body weight after 1 year. In patients with diabetes, one study showed that taking Ozempic at the highest dose of 2 mg led to on average ~15 lbs (6.9 kg) weight loss after 40 weeks, although it is important to note that patients with diabetes do consistently lose less weight while taking these types of medications.
Mounjaro (tirzepatide) clinical trials that included patients with overweight or obesity, but without type 2 diabetes, showed an average weight loss of 20.9% over 72 weeks for patients on the maximum(15 mg) weekly dose plus healthy lifestyle changes. Study participants receiving placebo plus healthy lifestyle interventions lost an average of 3.1% total body weight in the same period of time.
The Patient’s Experience: Ozempic or Mounjaro
Both Mounjaro and Ozempic can be highly effective medications in treating type 2 diabetes and lowering A1C, with the added bonus of helping patients to lose weight.
Choosing a weight loss medication is a highly individualized decision made jointly by the patient and their doctor, and will be based on their medical history, current medications as well as cost and insurance coverage. There are a few reasons why a healthcare provider may suggest one medication over another:
- Availability: weight loss medication availability is dependent on where you live in the US, and some medications may be available in your area while others are not
- Insurance Coverage: both Ozempic and Mounjaro have a high out of pocket cost, and insurance coverage will vary depending on the provider
- If you have already tried Ozempic to lower blood sugar or for weight loss and it did not work for you, Mounjaro may still help as it targets both the GLP-1 and the GIP receptors
Mounjaro vs Ozempic: Making the Choice for Your Weight Loss Journey
If you are considering medical weight loss to help you meet your health goals, but you aren’t sure where to start, FORM can help. When you join FORM, you will be paired with a board certified doctor specialized in weight loss and a Registered Dietitian with whom you will meet on a regular basis. After getting to know you and your health history, they will create a personalized plan which could include medications like Ozempic or Mounjaro to assist with weight loss.
If you are interested in learning more about FORM, schedule a call or send a message today for more information. You can also take our quiz to see if you are eligible to join FORM.
Ozempic® is a registered trademarks of Novo Nordisk A/S.
Mounjaro® and its delivery device base are registered trademarks owned or licensed by Eli Lilly and Company, its subsidiaries, or affiliates.