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Wegovy vs. Ozempic: Exploring Differences, Including Weight Loss Effects

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedFebruary 29, 2024

In recent years, Wegovy and Ozempic have emerged as prominent contenders in weight management and diabetes treatment.

These medications contain semaglutide as their active ingredient and are administered as once-weekly injections. However, they are not interchangeable, and their approved uses and dosing differ significantly.

This article explores the six key differences between Wegovy and Ozempic to help you decide which medication is right for you.

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🔑 Key Takeaways:

  • Wegovy approved for chronic weight management in adults and adolescents 12+ with BMI 30+ for obesity. Ozempic is primarily for Type 2 diabetes in adults and not for those under 18 or non-diabetic use.
  • Wegovy's dosage starts at 0.25 mg once weekly during the first month and gradually increases, while Ozempic also starts at 0.25 mg weekly in the first month.
  • Wegovy is associated with significant and sustained weight loss, especially at a 2.4 mg dose. At the same time, Ozempic can also promote weight loss but tends to result in a less substantial reduction in body weight compared to Wegovy.
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1. Approved Uses

Wegovy and Ozempic were developed and studied for distinct purposes during clinical trials, leading to their separate approved uses.

Wegovy

Wegovy has received approval for the chronic management of weight in both adults and adolescents aged 12 and above.

Clinical trials have demonstrated its effectiveness in both individuals with and without diabetes. On average, adults taking Wegovy lost nearly 15% of their initial body weight during clinical trials, while adolescents lost around 16%.

Wegovy is a powerful tool in the battle againstobesity, providing a potential solution for individuals struggling with excessive weight.

Ozempic

Ozempic is primarily approved for treating Type 2 diabetes in adults and can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in those with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Ozempic's main focus is improving blood sugar (glucose) levels, particularly the reduction of hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C), which reflects average blood glucose levels over three months.

2. Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility for Wegovy and Ozempic varies based on specific criteria and individual health conditions.

Wegovy

To be eligible for Wegovy, adults usually need a BMI of 30 or higher, indicating obesity. However, those with a BMI of at least 27 and one or more weight-related medical conditions, likehigh blood pressure, high cholesterol, or Type 2 diabetes, may also qualify.

Notably, Wegovy can be prescribed as part of a weight management plan for individuals with Type 2 diabetes, even without specific approval for diabetes treatment. The STEP 2 trial confirmed its effectiveness, demonstrating substantial weight loss and improved A1C levels in individuals with Type 2 diabetes.

Furthermore, Wegovy is approved for adolescents aged 12 and older with a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for their age and sex. This extends the potential benefits of Wegovy to a younger population dealing with obesity.

Ozempic

Ozempic is primarily prescribed for adults with Type 2 diabetes to help regulate blood glucose levels. It is not approved for use in individuals under 18, and its use in people without diabetes is considered off-label.

3. Dosage Differences

Wegovy and Ozempic have distinct dosage schedules that patients should follow under medical supervision.

Wegovy

Wegovy's dosage schedule starts with a low dosage of 0.25 mg once weekly during the first month as the starting dosage.

Over the subsequent months, the dosage gradually increases as follows:

  • 0.5 mg in the second month
  • 1 mg in the third month
  • 1.7 mg in the fourth month
  • 2.4 mg once weekly from the fifth month onwards

You can change your Wegovy dose day if your last dose was 2 or more days ago.

If you miss a dose and the next one is over 2 days away, take the missed dose. But if the next dose is within 2 days, skip the missed one. If you miss doses over 2 weeks, restart your usual day or consult your healthcare provider.

Ozempic

For adults with Type 2 diabetes, Ozempic's dosage schedule begins with a lower dosage of 0.25 mg once weekly in the first month.

In the second month, the dosage is increased to 0.5 mg once weekly. If necessary, your healthcare provider may further increase the dosage to a maximum of 1 mg once weekly, depending on your specific case.

Administer Ozempic once weekly on the same day, at any time, with or without meals. The maximum recommended dose is 2 mg per week.

You can change the weekly administration day if needed, with at least 2 days (48 hours) between doses.

If you miss a dose, take it within 5 days of the scheduled date. If more than 5 days pass, skip the missed dose and continue on the regular once-weekly schedule.

4. Side Effects

Wegovy and Ozempic have potential side effects that individuals should be aware of when considering these medications for weight management or diabetes treatment.

Wegovy

Wegovy may cause serious side effects, including the possibility of thyroid tumors, including cancer.

If you notice a neck lump, hoarseness, swallowing issues, or shortness of breath, these may signal thyroid cancer.

Wegovy and similar drugs can lead to thyroid tumors. It's uncertain if Wegovy poses this risk in humans, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC).

Do not use Wegovy if you or your family have a history of MTC or a condition called Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).

Common side effects of Wegovy may include belching. It's important to note that not all belching is necessarily a side effect, and the experience of side effects can vary among individuals.

Ozempic

Ozempic may also have serious side effects like pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis). If you experience severe abdominal pain that doesn't subside, with or without vomiting, during Ozempic treatment, you should immediately contact your healthcare provider.

Another potential side effect of Ozempic is vision changes. If you notice any changes in your vision while using Ozempic, inform your healthcare provider.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can occur with Ozempic, especially when combined with other medications that lower blood sugar. Signs of low blood sugar include dizziness, blurred vision, anxiety, sweating, confusion, shakiness, weakness, and rapid heartbeat.

Those with kidney issues should be cautious because Ozempic's side effects, like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, can worsen dehydration, potentially harming the kidneys. Staying well-hydrated is crucial in such cases.

Although rare, serious allergic reactions to Ozempic can happen. If you experience symptoms like facial swelling, difficulty breathing or swallowing, severe rash, fainting, or rapid heartbeat, seek immediate medical attention.

Ozempic may also be linked to gallbladder problems. If you develop symptoms such as upper abdominal pain, fever, yellowing of the skin or eyes, or pale stools, inform your healthcare provider promptly.

5. Effectivity For Weight Loss

Wegovy and Ozempic, used for weight loss, work in distinct ways, offering unique mechanisms and effects.

Wegovy

Wegovy is associated with a substantial and sustained reduction in body weight, as indicated by clinical trials of Wegovy 2.4 mg. These trials showed an average weight loss of 15.8% after 68 weeks of treatment.

Wegovy achieves this significant and lasting weight loss by suppressing appetite and mimicking the action of a gut hormone called GLP-1. This hormone slows food movement in the gut, keeping individuals full for longer.

The weight loss on Wegovy varies depending on individual circumstances, the duration of medication use, and the support received. In a major study (STEP 1 clinical trial), individuals on the maximum dose of Wegovy lost 12% more of their body weight than those not on the medication.

However, it's crucial to note that sustained weight loss may require ongoing dietary and lifestyle changes, as there is evidence of weight regain when people stop using Wegovy.

Ozempic

Ozempic also can promote weight loss but appears to result in a less substantial reduction in body weight than Wegovy.

Clinical trials of Ozempic showed an average weight reduction of 6% after one year of treatment in adults with an average starting weight of 197 pounds on 1.0 mg semaglutide per week.

Ozempic works by mimicking a naturally occurring hormone and sending signals to the brain that the individual is full. It also slows digestion, similar to the effect of bariatric surgery.

While Ozempic is not specifically approved for weight loss, its active ingredient, semaglutide, is approved for weight loss under the name Wegovy. Individuals taking Ozempic for weight loss should know that their bodies may adapt to the medication, potentially causing weight plateaus.

Research indicates that discontinuing Ozempic may lead to weight regain, highlighting the importance of continued lifestyle changes such as proper diet and exercise for sustainable weight management.

6. Insurance Coverage

Insurance coverage for Wegovy and Ozempic may vary depending on your specific plan and the approved uses of these medications.

Wegovy

Insurance coverage for Wegovy varies depending on your plan. Some plans may not cover it for weight management, while others might.

Contact your insurance provider to get details on your coverage and inquire about any available savings cards or patient assistance programs.

Wegovy

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Ozempic

Ozempic may be covered by insurance plans for treating Type 2 diabetes. Since it is primarily approved for this purpose, diabetes-related insurance plans are more likely to cover it.

Similar to Wegovy, savings cards, and patient assistance programs may be available to help reduce the cost of Ozempic.

Ozempic

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📔 Related Articles:

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Final Words

Ozempic and Wegovy both contain semaglutide and are administered weekly, but their main difference is in their approved uses and weight loss effects.

Wegovy is primarily for weight management in adults and adolescents, demonstrating significant weight loss. Ozempic is primarily for Type 2 diabetes, with a secondary effect of weight loss, but with less pronounced results.

The two medications differ in eligibility criteria, dosage schedules, potential side effects, and insurance coverage. The choice between them depends on individual health needs and treatment goals, with Wegovy more suitable for substantial weight loss.

FAQs on Wegovy and Ozempic

Can you use Ozempic in place of Wegovy?

No, Ozempic and Wegovy are not interchangeable despite both containing semaglutide.

Is Ozempic and Wegovy the same medication?

No, Ozempic and Wegovy are not the same medication. They both contain semaglutide, but Wegovy has higher doses and is for weight loss, while Ozempic is primarily for type 2 diabetes.

Why do people stop using Ozempic?

People may discontinue Ozempic due to side effects like nausea and diarrhea, dislike of regular injections, disappointment with weight loss or blood glucose control outcomes, and high treatment costs in the US.

Is Ozempic FDA-approved for weight loss?

No, Ozempic is not FDA-approved for weight loss. It is specifically approved for the treatment of diabetes. For weight loss, Wegovy is the appropriate medication.

Can Wegovy and Ozempic be used during pregnancy?

No, Wegovy and Ozempic, which contain semaglutide, are not recommended during pregnancy. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has cautioned that these medications may pose risks to the fetus, including the potential for birth defects, low birth weight, and miscarriage. Although the evidence primarily comes from limited animal studies, it is advisable to avoid these medications if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

What is the best injection for weight loss?

Semaglutide (1 mg) has been shown in high-quality trials to result in significant weight loss of up to 15%, making it more than twice as effective as other GLP-1 weight-loss injections.

What is the difference between Wegovy and Ozempic?

Wegovy and Ozempic are both semaglutide injections. Ozempic is for Type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy, with higher doses, is approved for weight loss. They cannot be swapped.

What are the common side effects of Wegovy and Ozempic?

Common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, headache, and injection site reactions. Follow your healthcare provider's guidance to minimize them and maintain good hydration and injection practices.

Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
Virtual weight loss solution
A personalized GLP-1 medication program delivered to you via our partner Korb Health
Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
  • Free consultation; program starts at $269/mo
  • Checkmark Inside Circle.Customized online program and wellness coaching
  • Prescription medications and supplies shipped to your door