Wegovy and Ozempic are glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists that help people better manage their blood sugar levels, lower HbA1c levels, improve insulin sensitivity, fight insulin resistance, and lose weight.
While remarkably similar, the two medications have several key differences that may affect your choice. So: Wegovy or Ozempic: which one should you choose?
This article will explain the similarities and differences between these two drugs so you can make the best choice for yourself.
What are the active ingredients in Wegovy and Ozempic?
Wegovy and Ozempic both have the same active ingredient, semaglutide, which is a GLP-1 agonist.
These are sister medications, and they are both produced by Novo Nordisk. Do not take either Wegovy or Ozempic if you’re allergic to semaglutide.
Why do people take Wegovy or Ozempic?
Wegovy and Ozempic have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat different conditions.
Wegovy is approved for the treatment of obesity for weight loss and chronic weight management. Wegovy may lower blood sugar levels and improve A1C, but it is not a diabetes medication.
People must meet certain body mass index (BMI) criteria to become eligible for Wegovy, including people who have a BMI of 30 or higher.
You may also qualify for Wegovy if your BMI is 27 and you have one or more weight-related medical conditions, such as high cholesterol, hypertension, or type 2 diabetes.
Wegovy is approved for chronic weight management in people 12 years and older. To qualify for Wegovy, the adolescent must have a BMI at or above the 95 percentile for their age and sex.
Ozempic is only FDA-approved for adults with type 2 diabetes. While many people lose weight while taking Ozempic, it is not approved by the FDA as a weight loss drug.
If you’ve been prescribed Ozempic but do not have diabetes, you are using it “off-label” (without FDA approval). Ozempic is only approved for use in people 18 years and older.
How are Wegovy and Ozempic similar?
Wegovy and Ozempic are remarkably similar. The following are the similarities between these two drugs:
They do not replace insulin
While only Ozempic is an approved drug to treat type 2 diabetes, many people with diabetes may be prescribed Wegovy. However, if you’re on insulin therapy, these medications do not replace the need to take insulin.
They may, over time, reduce the amount of insulin you require but they are not insulin nor are they replacements for insulin.
They are injectable medications, taken once weekly
Both of these drugs are only available in injection form and are taken subcutaneously. They are only taken once per week at the same time, on the same day (ideally).
They have similar side effects
The side effects of Ozempic and Wegovy are similar, and they may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, suppressed appetite, and low blood sugar, especially when you first start taking the medication until your body gets used to it.
If you’re experiencing debilitating side effects that are negatively affecting your life, contact your doctor who can either lower your dose or find an alternative medication for you.
They cause weight loss
In studies both Wegovy and Ozempic cause weight loss in patients by suppressing appetite and inhibiting the liver from releasing glucagon.
In one study, adult participants taking Wegovy lost 15% of their starting weight on average. In a separate study, adolescents taking Wegovy lost 16% of their starting weight on average.
Studies show that Ozempic also causes weight loss, but since it is not FDA-approved as a weight loss drug, there is no recommended dose to achieve weight loss.
They lower blood sugars and A1C
Both medications improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, and improve A1Cs. During clinical trials, Ozempic lowered the average A1C by 1%.
On the other hand, the STEP 2 trial looked at Wegovy’s effects on blood sugars and A1Cs in people who have type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that participants taking the medication not only lost weight but saw statistically significant improvements in their blood sugars and A1C levels as well.
They can be taken with or without food
They can be taken with or without food and won’t cause acute low blood sugar levels.
However, if you’re struggling with nausea after taking your medication, it may be helpful to take it after eating a meal or to have a snack of something bland to coat your stomach, such as crackers, soup, toast, or rice, to help alleviate any nausea you may feel.
How are Wegovy and Ozempic different?
While remarkably similar, Wegovy and Ozempic are different medications that require different prescriptions. They are FDA approved to treat different conditions.
The concentration of semaglutide is different
They contain the same active ingredient, semaglutide, but in different concentrations. At the maintenance dose, Wegovy is given at 2.4mg once weekly and Ozempic can vary between 0.5mg, 1mg, or 2mg once weekly.
They are not interchangeable and doing so can cause adverse side effects.
The side effects of Wegovy may be more severe
Both Ozempic and Wegovy can cause adverse side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. These side effects tend to increase along with higher doses of semaglutide.
An increase in side effects was also noted in the clinical trial for Wegovy.
Adverse side effects are most common when you first start taking semaglutide, until your body has a chance to get used to the medication.
They usually lessen or go away after a few weeks. If you notice that your side effects are not going away or are getting worse after taking either medication for a month or more, you should call your doctor.
Frequently asked questions
Unlike Ozempic and Victoza, Ozempic and Wegovy are not interchangeable. This is especially the case if you take Ozempic for type 2 diabetes, as Wegovy is not approved for diabetes.
If you’ve been prescribed Wegovy for obesity or chronic weight management treatment and also happen to have type 2 diabetes, that is usually fine.
If you regularly take Ozempic for type 2 diabetes treatment, it is not advisable to switch to Wegovy without the guidance of a doctor.
If you’re on Wegovy only for weight loss, switching to Ozempic will be less effective for your treatment.
No. You should never take these two medications at the same time.
Unlike other diabetes and weight loss medications, combining Ozempic and Wegovy can cause serious side effects like debilitating nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and even low blood sugar which can become fatal if not treated immediately.
If you have accidentally taken both of these medications at the same time or within a 2-day timeframe, call your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical attention.
If you take Ozempic for type 2 diabetes and are interested in losing weight, talk to your doctor to see if you qualify to take Wegovy instead.
If you take Wegovy for obesity or chronic weight management treatment and are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your doctor will help guide your treatment options.
Ultimately, this choice must be made between you and your doctor. It will depend on your diagnosis, health history, health goals, lifestyle, and preferences.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you’ll most likely be prescribed Ozempic, and if you’re struggling with being overweight or obese but do not have diabetes, you’ll most likely be prescribed Wegovy.
If you have type 2 diabetes and struggle with being overweight or obese, working with your doctor to make the best medication choice for yourself is advised.
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