Ozempic and Mounjaro are both popular injectable medications used to treat blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
However, they have different active ingredients, can cause different side effects, and have slightly different mechanisms of action.
It can be difficult to know which medication is more appropriate for you.
This guide will explain the key differences between Ozempic and Mounjaro and help you decide which medication you should choose.
What are the active ingredients in Ozempic versus Mounjaro?
Ozempic and Mounjaro are similar drugs but they cannot be combined or used at the same time. This is because they have different active ingredients and mechanisms of action.
The active ingredient in Ozempic is semaglutide. Semaglutide mimics the glucose-like peptide (GLP)-1 hormones in the body.
The active ingredient in Mounjaro is tirzepatide. Tirzepatide mimics both the GLP-1 and the glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) hormones. Its nickname is “twincreatin” because it mimics two hormone groups.
GIP hormones aid GLP-1 hormones in their digestive and metabolic action. This enhances their ability to regulate appetite and prevent overeating.
Why do people take Ozempic or Mounjaro?
Ozempic and Mounjaro are both used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
They are liquid, injectable medications that help lower blood sugars and A1C levels that are taken subcutaneously (just under the skin.)
Another notable effect is that they also slow digestion and suppress appetite. As a result, many people who take these medications experience weight loss.
Ozempic and Mounjaro help lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
People may be prescribed Ozempic or Mounjaro “off-label”—which means it is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration—to improve insulin resistance and blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss.
However, neither medication is FDA-approved as a weight loss drug.
People are not prescribed both medications. You take one or the other. Never mix the two medications.
How are Ozempic and Mounjaro similar?
Ozempic and Mounjaro can be used alone or in conjunction with other diabetes medications.
The two medications are similar in the following ways:
Lower blood sugar and A1C levels
Both Ozempic and Mounjaro have been proven to lower blood sugar and A1C levels.
The average person who takes the maximum dose of Mounjaro (15 mg per week) has been reported to lower their A1C by 2.3%.
The people taking Ozempic on average can lower their A1C between 1.4-2.1%.
These medications do this by increasing insulin secretion. This action prohibits the liver from releasing glucose into the bloodstream and increasing insulin sensitivity.
May cause weight loss
Neither medication is FDA-approved as a weight loss drug. However, studies have shown that both medications have been proven to help people lose weight.
Ozempic suppresses appetite and slows digestion, which aids in weight loss.
One study reports that over the course of 40 weeks, people taking 1 mg weekly of Ozempic lost an average of 13 lbs. Those taking 2mg weekly lost an average of 15 lbs.
In other studies, Mounjaro helped people lose 12–15 lbs on the 5 mg weekly dose, between 15–21 lbs while on the 10 mg weekly dose, and between 17–25 lbs while taking the 15 mg weekly dose.
There is no recommended dose to take for weight loss since these medications aren’t approved for weight loss by the FDA.
Talk with your doctor if you’re interested in losing weight.
Lower cardiovascular risks
These medications support cardiovascular health, which is important for people living with diabetes.
Studies report that after one year of consistent use, people on the maximum dose of Mounjaro (15 mg per week):
- Lowered their total cholesterol by about 5.6 percent
- Lowered their triglycerides by 22.5 percent
- Lowered their LDL cholesterol by 7.9 percent
- Lowered their VLDL by 21.8 percent
- Increased their HDL by 10.8 percent
Additionally, a meta-analysis from The Lancet found that Ozempic lowered cardiovascular risk and even decreased the risk of death in people with diabetes and heart disease.
The American Diabetes Association recommends GLP-1 agonists for people who have type 2 diabetes and heart disease to lower cardiovascular risk.
In addition to taking Mounjaro or Ozempic, a healthy diet and an increased amount of physical activity can go a long way to improving your heart health.
May cause adverse side effects
Both Ozempic and Mounjaro can cause mild to severe side effects, especially when you first start taking the medication.
Side effects of these medications include:
- Low blood sugar, especially when used in conjunction with insulin
They also may cause serious side effects, including:
- Kidney problems
- Increased risk of thyroid cancer
- Allergic reaction
They do not replace insulin
Ozempic and Mounjaro do not replace insulin.
If you decide to begin treatment with one of these medications, you will still need to continue taking your other diabetes medications as prescribed.
Your insulin needs may go down over time as a result of improved insulin sensitivity, but you’ll most likely not stop insulin treatment altogether.
They can be taken with or without food
Unlike insulin, these medications do not cause acute low blood sugar levels and they can be taken with or without food.
Eat something bland like toast, a banana, or crackers to alleviate the nausea you may experience after your injection.
They may worsen diabetic retinopathy
These medications may cause or worsen diabetic retinopathy, especially when you first start taking them.
Similarly, the active ingredient in Mounjaro (tirzepatide) can make diabetic retinopathy worse.
Although this does not happen in all patients who take these medications, they do come with an increased risk of vision changes and worsening vision.
Talk with your doctor if you have early-stage diabetic retinopathy or are worried that taking Ozempic or Mounjaro may threaten your eye health.
How are Ozempic and Mounjaro different?
It is important to note the key differences between these medications so you can make the healthiest and best choice for you.
The two medications are different in the following ways:
The dosing will differ
Ozempic and Mounjaro have completely different dosing schemes, and they are not interchangeable.
The doses for Ozempic are the following:
- New to treatment: 0.25 mg once per week for the first four weeks.
- Ongoing treatment: 0.5 mg once per week starting on week five. If your doctor thinks you require more, there are doses available in 1mg and 2mg pens.
Read more: Ozempic Dosage Guide
The doses for Mounjaro are the following:
- New to treatment: 2.5 mg once per week for the first four weeks.
- Ongoing treatment: 5 mg once per week starting on week five. If your doctor thinks you require more, there are doses available in 7.5mg, 10mg, 12.5mg, and 15mg pens.
Read more: Mounjaro Dosing Guide
Since the active ingredients are different, these doses are not interchangeable and it can be very dangerous if you attempt to do so.
They have different active ingredients
The active ingredient in Ozempic is semaglutide and the active ingredient in Mounjaro is tirzepatide.
Tell your doctor if you are allergic to one or the other’s active ingredients so that they can prescribe you an alternative.
Can I switch between the two drugs?
This may be possible, as long as you do not have any allergies to the ingredients of the other medication.
If you’re experiencing severe adverse side effects on one drug, you may wish to try another to see if your body will adjust better to it.
However, if you’ve been taking Ozempic, you will need to wait a full week from your last dose before beginning your first dose of Mounjaro.
Only switch medications under the guidance of your doctor. The dosing is completely different between the two medications and it does not translate between them.
Even if you’re on the highest dose of Ozempic, your doctor will probably start you on a small dose of Mounjaro (and vice versa) until your body gets used to the new active ingredient.
Can I get off my other diabetes medications if I lose enough weight on Ozempic or Mounjaro?
This is possible but doesn’t usually happen.
Losing weight can help improve both insulin resistance and blood sugar levels. Sometimes this makes your insulin or other diabetes medications unnecessary.
Ozempic and Mounjaro won’t cure diabetes.
However, you may be able to lower your insulin needs or stop taking insulin completely if you’ve lost a significant amount of weight and your blood sugars are in great control.
This will only apply to people who have type 2 diabetes, as people with type 1 diabetes are insulin-dependent for life.
Check-in with your doctor if you have questions about taking your other diabetes medications while on Ozempic or Mounjaro.