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Last updated: Jul 25, 2022
5 min read

Wegovy vs. Ozempic: which is right for you?

If you have weight-related health concerns, you aren’t alone. About 74% of adults in the US have obesity or overweight, and for those with excess weight, losing even 5–10% of body weight has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease (Fryar, 2020; FDA-a, 2021).  When exercise and dietary changes aren’t enough to make […]

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you have weight-related health concerns, you aren’t alone. About 74% of adults in the US have obesity or overweight, and for those with excess weight, losing even 5–10% of body weight has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease (Fryar, 2020; FDA-a, 2021). 

When exercise and dietary changes aren’t enough to make an impact, healthcare providers may prescribe medications to help people lose weight and keep it off. One such medication is semaglutide. Semaglutide injection was first approved under the brand name Ozempic in 2017 as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. In 2021, the FDA approved it under the brand name Wegovy as a weight loss medication.

Keep reading for more details about Wegovy vs. Ozempic. 

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What are Wegovy and Ozempic?

Wegovy and Ozempic are both brand-name injectable prescription drugs. They both contain the same active ingredient: semaglutide. Both belong to a class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. Examples of other drugs in this class include Rybelsus, Byetta, Bydureon, Saxenda, Trulicity, and Victoza (FDA, 2022; FDA-b, 2021). 

What is Wegovy?

Wegovy is an injectable prescription drug used to help with weight loss in adults. Here is a summary of Wegovy’s basic facts (FDA-b, 2021):

  • Active ingredient: semaglutide
  • Form: disposable, single-dose injector pen with built-in needle
  • Route: subcutaneous (under-the-skin) injection in your stomach or thigh
  • Dosing schedule: once a week
  • Starting dose: 0.25 milligrams per 0.5 milliliters (mg/mL)
  • Maximum maintenance dosage: 2.4 mg weekly

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is an injectable prescription drug used to help improve blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. Here is a summary of Ozempic’s basic facts (FDA, 2022):

  • Active ingredient: semaglutide
  • Form: multiple-use injector pen
  • Route: subcutaneous (under-the-skin) injection in your stomach or thigh
  • Dosing schedule: once a week
  • Starting dose: 0.25 milligrams per 0.5 milliliters (mg/mL)
  • Typical maintenance dosage: 1 mg weekly
  • Maximum dosage: 2 mg weekly

How are Wegovy and Ozempic similar?

Wegovy and Ozempic are very similar. Both contain semaglutide and are given the same way, as once-weekly injections. And both cause similar side effects.

Because Wegovy and Ozempic contain the same drug, they are not meant to be used in combination with each other, other weight loss drugs, nor with any other injectable or oral GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs (FDA-a, 2021; FDA, 2022).

How are Ozempic and Wegovy different? 

Wegovy and Ozempic differ in what the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved them for treating. We’ll explain this in more detail below.

Another notable difference is how you use Ozempic and Wegovy pens. With Wegovy, each injection pen has a built-in needle. After you use the pen once, you’ll dispose of it in a sharps container. 

Ozempic, on the other hand, comes with needles that you’ll attach to the injector pen before each dose. Then you’ll dispose of the needle in a sharps container, but continue using the same pen several times. The exact number of doses per pen varies depending on your dosage. Note that you should not share an Ozempic pen with another person, as this can spread disease, even if the needle is changed (FDA, 2022).

Conditions treated with Wegovy and Ozempic

Ozempic and Wegovy are FDA-approved for different indications or uses (FDA-a, 2021; FDA, 2022).

The FDA approves Ozempic for:

  • Controlling blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Reducing the risk of major cardiovascular health problems, such as heart attack, stroke, and death in adults with type 2 diabetes and heart disease

Ozempic can be prescribed off-label to help with weight loss. 

In contrast, the FDA approves Wegovy as an adjunct to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management in adults with either:

Risks and side effects of Ozempic and Wegovy

Common side effects of Ozempic and Wegovy include (FDA-a, 2021; FDA, 2022):

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Injection site reactions, such as pain or skin irritation

Other serious side effects are possible with Ozempic and Wegovy, such as: 

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or gallbladder problems
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when taken along with insulin or certain diabetes pills like glimepiride or glipizide 
  • Kidney injury
  • Diabetic retinopathy, a eye problem that can happen in people with diabetes
  • Severe allergic reaction

Both Ozempic and Wegovy carry a boxed warning—the strongest type of warning from the FDA—because studies of these drugs in rats revealed an increased risk of thyroid tumors. It isn’t known for sure if the same risk applies to people, but as a precaution, seek medical advice if you develop any potential signs of thyroid cancer, such as a lump in your neck, painful swallowing, or voice hoarseness.

Wegovy vs. Ozempic for weight loss: which is better?

In a clinical trial that compared weekly use of semaglutide 1 mg and 2.4 mg, semaglutide 2.4 mg (the maximum dose of Wegovy) caused more significant weight loss than semaglutide 1 mg (the typical maintenance dose of Ozempic) (Davies, 2021; Singh, 2022).

In one trial, participants who received lifestyle interventions and reached a weekly dose of 2.4 mg lost an average of 10.6% of their body weight after 20 weeks of continued use. In another trial, people with diabetes who received a lifestyle intervention and reached a weekly dose of 1 mg lost an average of 7.0% of their body weight in 68 weeks (Davies, 2021). 

Both Wegovy and Ozempic can be effective treatment options that help people lose weight. Not only can losing weight make you feel good and give you more energy, but it can also reduce the risk of serious health issues. A healthcare provider can help you determine if one of these medications is right for you. They may also recommend behavioral therapy or lifestyle changes, such as fitness programs and diet modifications, to help you maximize your results.

Comparison of Wegovy vs. Ozempic

We’ve highlighted several key differences and similarities between these two medications. Here is a summary:

*Average retail cost for one carton, according to GoodRx.com. Your actual cost may vary depending on your location, pharmacy, insurance coverage, and eligibility for savings programs (GoodRx-a, n.d.; GoodRx-b, n.d.).

References

  1. Collins, L. & Costello, R. A. (2022). Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists. StatPearls. Retrieved on June 30, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551568/ 
  2. Davies, M., Færch, L., Jeppesen, O. K., et al. (2021). Semaglutide 2.4 mg once a week in adults with overweight or obesity, and type 2 diabetes (STEP 2): a randomised, double-blind, double-dummy, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial. Lancet, 397(10278), 971–984. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00213-0 Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33667417/ 
  3. Fryar, C. D., Carroll, M. D., & Afful, J. (2020). Prevalence of overweight, obesity, and severe obesity among adults aged 20 and over: United States, 1960–1962 through 2017–2018. NCHS Health E-Stats. 2020. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity-adult-17-18/obesity-adult.htm#Citation 
  4. GoodRx-a. (n.d.). Ozempic. Retrieved on July 6, 2022 from https://www.goodrx.com/ozempic  
  5. GoodRx-b. (n.d.). Wegovy. Retrieved on July 6, 2022 from https://www.goodrx.com/wegovy   
  6. Rubino, D., et al. (2021). Effect of continued weekly subcutaneous semaglutide vs placebo on weight loss maintenance in adults with overweight or obesity. JAMA, 325(14), 1414. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.3224. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2777886
  7. Singh, G., Krauthamer, M., & Bjalme-Evans, M. (2022). Wegovy (semaglutide): a new weight loss drug for chronic weight management. Journal of Investigative Medicine, 70(1), 5–13. doi:10.1136/jim-2021-001952. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8717485/ 
  8. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA-a). (2021). Approves new drug treatment for chronic weight management, first since 2014. [Press release]. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-new-drug-treatment-chronic-weight-management-first-2014 
  9. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA-b). (2021). Wegovy (semaglutide) injection, for subcutaneous use. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2021/215256s000lbl.pdf 
  10. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2022). Ozempic (semaglutide) injection, for subcutaneous use. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2022/209637Orig1s009lbl.pdf