Obesity is a complex, chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide, leading to various health complications such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. If medically appropriate, FDA-approved medications such as Wegovy® and Ozempic® may be prescribed to help a person reach their weight loss goals. In this article, we will discuss the similarities and differences between Wegovy vs. Ozempic.
The Differences between Wegovy vs. Ozempic
Both Wegovy and Ozempic contain the same active ingredient known as semaglutide. Semaglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist which works by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone. Our body naturally makes this hormone that affects body weight and blood sugar control. GLP-1 acts on the appetite center of our brain to decrease hunger and cravings. It stimulates the release of insulin by the pancreas to lower blood sugar. However, there are some differences between the two medications.
Different FDA-approved Indications
Ozempic is FDA-approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes to improve glycemic control and reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (e.g. heart attack, stroke, or death). Wegovy is FDA-approved for chronic weight management in adults with obesity (BMI 30+ kg/m2) or overweight (BMI 27+ kg/m2) with at least one weight-related condition (such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol). Both Wegovy and Ozempic can be used in combination with healthy nutrition and increased physical activity for weight loss. In the case of Ozempic it is considered off-label use. In some cases, a provider may prescribe Ozempic to help manage a person’s weight as a result of medication availability or insurance coverage.
Both Wegovy and Ozempic are administered through an injectable prefilled pen. Pen doses are increased gradually over time to help reduce the risk of gastrointestinal side effects. The starting doses of Ozempic and Wegovy are the same, beginning at 0.25 mg and every four weeks increasing to 0.5 mg and then 1 mg. However, above 1 mg there are different dosages; Wegovy has two higher-strength doses of 1.7 mg and 2.4 mg while Ozempic has 2 mg. It is important to follow the recommended dosing and administration instructions provided by your healthcare provider.
Both Wegovy and Ozempic are expensive medications, and insurance coverage will vary depending on a patient’s plan benefits. Frequently insurance plans require a prior authorization. Even if the medication is covered by insurance there may be copays or a deductible that needs to be reached before it is fully covered. Importantly, while a medication may be considered a covered benefit by the insurance plan, there may be specific eligibility criteria that a person must meet for it to be covered. For example, while Ozempic may be prescribed for weight loss, if you do not have the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes the insurance company may not pay for it. For more information, contact your insurance provider to understand your coverage options.
Wegovy and Ozempic have the same side effects since they contain the same active ingredient. These side effects are also seen with other GLP-1 receptor agonists medications. The most common side effects of both medications include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Rare but more serious potential side effects include gallbladder disease and pancreatitis. Wegovy and Ozempic should not be used if you are pregnant or have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or certain rare genetic syndromes. If you experience any side effects while taking these medications, you should speak to your prescribing healthcare provider.
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Weight Loss Results
Studies have shown that both Wegovy and Ozempic are effective in promoting weight loss. In clinical trials, patients taking 2.4mg of Wegovy lost an average of 15% of their initial body weight within 15 months when combined with a reduced calorie diet, and increased physical activity. This is the most weight loss achieved compared to any FDA-approved weight loss medications to date. Recent data found that compared to GLP-1 receptor agonist Saxenda® (liraglutide), Wegovy was more effective in weight loss (6.4% vs 15.8%). Both Wegovy and Ozempic are intended to be used as part of a comprehensive weight management program, which includes a healthy diet, increased physical activity, and overall lifestyle changes. It is important to continue following a healthy lifestyle while taking either medication to achieve the maximum benefits of weight loss.
Both Wegovy and Ozempic are prescription medications and are only available with a doctor’s prescription. There have been Wegovy shortages in the past, leading providers to prescribe Ozempic off-label which then contributed to shortages of Ozempic. As of the time of this writing, Wegovy is now back in stock in all dosages. Patients should speak with their healthcare provider to determine which medication is best for them.
Wegovy vs Ozempic for Weight Loss
If you are taking or plan to take Wegovy® or Ozempic®, you may want to consider working with a weight management program like FORM that provides personalized support tailored to your needs. In fact, combining medication and comprehensive lifestyle counseling led to 2.5x more weight loss than just medication alone.
At FORM, all patients undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation and work with a doctor board-certified in Obesity Medicine and a Registered Dietitian. Together, you’ll create an individualized treatment plan that includes nutrition, lifestyle changes, mindset shifts, and medication when deemed appropriate. Our specialists emphasize the importance of sustainable lifestyle changes to support healthy weight loss and long-term maintenance. In one year, on average our patients have lost 15% of their body weight.
Get Started with Ozempic or Wegovy
If you have struggled with your weight despite implementing healthy nutrition and lifestyle changes, an Ozempic or Wegovy prescription may be an option for you and is something you should discuss with your doctor. At FORM, all patients undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation. This includes laboratory studies, and participate in frequent visits with a doctor and Registered Dietitian. You clinical team will provide a nutrition plan, accountability, and support for long-term behavior change.
Wegovy® and Ozempic® are registered trademarks of Novo Nordisk A/S.