Wegovy vs Ozempic: Are They the Same?

We take a close look at two drugs with a lot in common that people with Type 2 diabetes may have heard of. They have the same active ingredient, Semaglutide, help with weight loss, and are even made by the same company. So when we look at Wegovy vs Ozempic – they must be the same, right? No! What sets them apart is they’re prescribed to serve different needs: blood sugar control or chronic weight management.

Below we do a deep dive on Ozempic and Wegovy, how they work, and the key differences and similarities.

Wegovy and Ozempic: How They’re Similar

Active Ingredient

The main thing Ozempic and Wegovy have in common is the active ingredient, Semaglutide.

Semaglutide is an analog to the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) hormone. In other words, Semaglutide acts like the GLP-1 hormone by activating the GLP-1 receptors.

The GLP-1 hormone, produced in the intestines, plays many roles when it comes to blood glucose. This includes telling the pancreas to produce more insulin (a hormone that absorbs blood glucose) and slowing the release of glucagon (a hormone that increase glucose).

The GLP-1 hormone also inhibits (or slows) stomach emptying, which results in glucose breaking down slower. And it also helps make you feel more satisfied in order to help slow food intake.

Helps with Weight Loss

Both Wegovy and Ozempic can help lead weight loss. Below we discuss studies on both medications showing participants saw average weight loss between 9lbs to 35lbs.

Same Company

Wegovy and Ozmepic are both made by the company Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company.

There also both relatively new. Wegovy was FDA approved in June 2021 and Ozempic first FDA approved in 2017. But Ozempic’s higher dose was approved in March 2022.

Side Effects and Warnings

Because they use the same active ingredient, Semaglutide, they have similar side effects and warnings.

We discuss these more below but the more serious side effects may include possible thyroid tumors (including cancer), pancreatitis, gallbladder problems, hypoglycemia, and kidney problems.

Wegovy and Ozempic: How They’re Different

Now that we know what Wegovy and Ozempic have in common, below we look at how they’re different.

Intended use

The main difference is the two medications serve different needs.

Ozempic is a drug for adults with type 2 diabetes and is intended to improve their blood sugar. And while it’s not a weight loss drug, it may also help you lose some weight.

But Wegovy is a weight management medicine. It’s meant for adults that are overweight or obese – at or above body mass index (BMI) of 27 – with weight-related medical issues in order to help with sustained weight loss.

Dosing Schedules

Another difference is the dosing schedule of the two with Wegovy having slightly higher doses.

Wegovy is prescribed in five (5) dose strengths of 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg, 1.7mg, 2.4mg that’s over five months.

The starting dose of 0.25mg is given for one month, and then increased to the next dose strength per month until the maximum dose of 2.4mg is reached.

image of wegovy dosing schedule
Wegovy Dosing Schedule (image credit: wegovy.com)

Ozempic only has only four (4) dose strengths of 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg and 2mg.

Ozempic recommends that dosage increases only up to 0.5mg at 4 weeks and stays there if A1C is under control. But if not, the doctor may increase dosage to 1mg or 2mg to improve glycemic control.

image of 0.25mg and 0.5mg dose schedule
Ozempic Dosing Schedule (image credit: ozempic.com)
image of 1mg dose schedule
Image credit: ozempic.com
image of 2mg dose schedule
Image credit: ozempic.com

Costs

As we discuss below, the list price of Wegovy is a lot higher than Ozempic. But certain medical insurance coverage will bring those costs down.

Wegovy vs Ozempic: Side-by-Side Comparison

Dose Strength & Use

WegovyOzempic
Doses0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg, 1.7mg, 2.4mg0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg, 2mg
FrequencyTaken weekly, once a day with or without food. Taken weekly, once a day with or without food. 
RouteSingle-use injection pen Reusable injection pen

Both are taken using an injection pen, which is like an insulin pen. And because Ozempic’s pen is reusable, be sure to follow instructions on proper storage, temperature, and handling needles.

person holding ozempic pen
Ozempic injection pen

Effectiveness

Wegovy

In the company’s 68-week study, adults lost an avg. 35lbs or 15% body weight. And over 60% lost at least 10% body weight. This study didn’t include people with type 2 diabetes so impacts to blood sugar or A1C wasn’t included.

Ozempic

In the company’s 40-week study comparing to similar medications (dulaglutide), Ozempic resulted in lower A1C and more participants reached below 7% A1C.

The study also showed participants lost an average of 9.3lbs on the 0.5mg dose, and an average of 12.8lb on 1mg dose. This was more weight lost on Ozempic than other similar medications.

Costs

The list price of each is where they differ quite a bit.

WegovyOzempic
$1349Approx. $900

Wegovy

List price is $1349 which makes it a lot higher than Ozempic. But most won’t pay that list price if your health insurance coverage includes weight management and weight loss medications.

Ozempic

List price is about $900 but you’re unlikely to pay that if your insurance covers it. And the company offers a special where you could pay as low as $25 per month.

Side Effects and Warnings

Both have similar warnings and possible serious side effects.

The most serious side effects of Ozempic and Wegovy are possible thyroid tumors including thyroid cancer risk.

If you or your family have a health history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome Type 1, then both medications are not recommended.

The other serious side effects of Ozempic and Wegovy may include pancreatitis, gallbladder problems, hypoglycemia, kidney problems, and allergic reactions. 

And these medications shouldn’t be used if you’ve had serious allergic reactions to semaglutide of if you’re taking other semaglutide medications.

Wegovy

The most common side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, stomach pain, headache, tiredness (fatigue), upset stomach, dizziness, feeling bloated, belching, gas, stomach flu and heartburn.

Ozempic

The most common side effects may include  nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and constipation.

Wegovy vs Ozempic FAQs

Is Wegovy or Ozempic better for weight loss?

Ozempic is not a weight loss drug but is meant to help lower blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes. Wegovy is is meant for weight management so it’s a better option if weight loss is our goal.

How much weight can you lose with Ozempic or Wegovy?

Based on Wegovy’s 68-week study, adults lost an avg. 35lbs or 15% body weight. On a 40-week study on Ozempic, participants lost an avg. 9.3lbs on .5mg and 12.8lb on 1mg.  

Is there a Wegovy shortage?

According the Wegovy manufacturer NovoNordisk, the company has stopped shipments of the 0.25 mg and 0.5 mg dose strengths because of supply and manufacturing issues. The company is doing this to lower demand from new patients so that they can help provide the supply for current patients.

Novo Nordisk expects to have all dose strengths by the end of 2022 and have additional production capacity ready in 2023.

Summary

Wegovy and Ozempic are two similar medications that you may have heard of if you have type 2 diabetes. They both use the same active ingredient Semaglutide that mimics the natural hormone GLP-1 to improve insulin resistance, slow stomach emptying and can help with weight loss. Ozempic and Wegovy also have similar possible serious side effects including thyroid cancer risk, pancreatitis, and others.

But the big difference between the two is who they’re meant for. Ozempic is actually prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes to help control blood sugar. While Wegovy uses a higher sustained dose strength to help people lose weight.

Because Ozempic and Wegovy serve different needs, you’ll need to talk to your healthcare provider about your own health goals. Is a weight loss medication appropriate for your condition? Do you need help with blood sugar control? Is there family history of thyroid cancers?

These are just some of the questions to talk about with your provider as they’ll see if Wegovy vs Ozempic may be appropriate for you.

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