Ozempic alternatives: 5 options to consider if you can’t find Ozempic
LAST UPDATED: Jul 11, 2023
5 MIN READ
HERE'S WHAT WE'LL COVER
Ozempic (see Important Safety Information) is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that helps lower blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. It can also help with weight loss. Unfortunately, Ozempic might be hard to find because of drug shortages, or your insurance doesn’t cover it.
The good news is that Ozempic is not the only medication in its class. There are several other medications that are very similar to Ozempic, which can help manage blood sugar and encourage weight loss, especially when you combine them with a healthy diet and exercise.
Possible Ozempic alternatives for type 2 diabetes include Mounjaro (tirzepatide), Trulicity (dulaglutide), and Rybelsus (semaglutide). If you’re looking for Ozempic alternatives for weight loss Wegovy (semaglutide) or Saxenda (liraglutide) might be options to ask your healthcare provider about.
Ozempic Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.
Get access to Ozempic
Talk to a licensed doctor today and get access to Ozempic, if prescribed.
Weight loss claims apply to branded medications. Limited supply. See Important Safety Information, including boxed warning.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic (semaglutide) is a prescription injection pen that helps people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels. Ozempic also lowers the risk of stroke, heart attack, or death in people with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The pen comes pre-filled with medicine that the person injects into their abdomen, thigh, or upper arm weekly. You can take Ozempic with or without meals.
Ozempic lowers your appetite and, combined with diet and exercise, can help you lose weight. While it isn’t approved by the FDA specifically for weight loss, it is highly effective and helps people lose a significant amount of weight. In one trial, people with diabetes taking 1.0 mg of semaglutide (a common Ozempic dosage), along with diet and exercise, saw an average weight loss of 7% of their body weight over 68 weeks.
Ozempic side effects
Side effects from Ozempic are common but manageable for most people. Ozempic side effects typically include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which may be experienced by around one in three people. Rarer side effects include abdominal pain, constipation, or redness at the injection site. Ozempic may also increase the risk of experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or developing a gallbladder or gastrointestinal disorder. Ozempic is not recommended for those with:
A personal or family history of thyroid cancer
Multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2
Diabetic retinopathy (vision loss caused by diabetes)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a black box warning for Ozempic, the most serious advisory they issue for a medication. Animal studies have found that Ozempic increases the risk of thyroid tumors in mice and rats. While we don’t know if it has the same effect in humans, people with a personal or family history of thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 should not use Ozempic. Ozempic is also not approved in pregnant people and should be stopped at least two months before trying to get pregnant.
Many Ozempic alternatives are GLP-1 receptor agonists, just like Ozempic. These medications work by directing the pancreas to release more insulin when blood glucose levels get too high. This helps bring blood sugar levels back down. At the same time, GLP-1 receptor agonists also limit the release of glucagon, a hormone that raises your blood glucose levels.
Finally, GLP-1 receptor agonists slow down digestion. Since it takes longer for your stomach to empty, you feel full longer, which may lead you to eat less food and experience weight loss.
Popular Ozempic alternatives for blood sugar control include Mounjaro (tirzepatide), Trulicity (dulaglutide), and Rybelsus (semaglutide). If you’re looking for Ozempic alternatives with the goal of losing weight, Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide) might be an option for you.
Ozempic alternatives for type 2 diabetes
Ozempic binds to GLP-1 receptors and tells the pancreas to release insulin into the bloodstream when blood sugar levels spike. Increased insulin in the body brings blood sugar levels back down. Since Ozempic mimics the GLP-1 hormone, it is highly effective at stabilizing blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes.
Here are Ozempic alternatives that work in similar ways and can help with blood sugar control:
While Mounjaro is part of the more prominent GLP-1 drug family, it differs slightly from other GLP-1 agonists like Ozempic. That’s because Mounjaro is a dual GLP-1/GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) receptor agonist, which works on two different receptors.
This may make it more effective at controlling blood sugar levels and subsequent weight loss. Like Ozempic, Mounjaro is injected on a weekly basis. While Mounjaro is currently only approved for treating type 2 diabetes, the FDA is expected to approve Mounjaro for weight loss sometime in 2023 once new data from tirzepatide weight loss trials are available. Until then, health providers may prescribe the drug off-label for weight loss.
Trulicity (dulaglutide) is another injectable medication that helps improve blood sugar levels and weight loss. It should be injected weekly and prescribed in addition to lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.
Like Ozempic, Trulicity is prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes who have not found other treatments successful. The drug works by encouraging your pancreas to make more insulin when your body senses that you’ve eaten glucose or carbohydrates. Trulicity also reduces the risk that people with type 2 diabetes—both with and without heart disease—will experience a major cardiac event like stroke, heart attack, or death.
Rybelsus has the same active ingredient as Ozempic—semaglutide. You usually take Rybelsus once a day in the morning, at least 30 minutes before you eat or drink anything. Rybelsus and Ozempic are both brand names of the same drug, semaglutide, but the biggest difference is that you take Rybelsus by mouth, whereas Ozempic is an injection.
Ozempic alternatives for weight management
Ozempic also slows digestion and keeps food in the stomach for longer, decreasing appetite. Additionally, Ozempic tells the brain you’re full after eating, which adds another layer of appetite regulation. Because of these effects on appetite and food intake, Ozempic is often prescribed off-label for weight loss, meaning it isn’t approved for this purpose.
Currently, only two GLP-1 medications that work similarly to Ozempic, are FDA approved for weight loss.
Wegovy and Ozempic are brand-name injectable prescription drugs, containing the same active ingredient, semaglutide. So Wegovy works the same way as Ozempic does. By ramping up the body’s levels of GLP-1, Wegovy (see Important Safety Information) keeps food in the stomach for longer and sends signals to the brain, letting it know you’re full. All of that helps regulate your appetite, and leads to significant weight loss.
While Ozempic is only approved for blood sugar management, Wegovy is FDA approved for weight loss. In one clinical trial on Wegovy, participants who took Wegovy combined with lifestyle changes and lost an average of 15% of their body weight by the end of the 68-week trial.
It is important to note that there is currently a Wegovy shortage, expected to last at least through September 2023. Specifically, there is a shortage of the 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, and 1 mg strengths of Wegovy.
Saxenda is FDA-approved for chronic weight management. It also improves blood sugar control, although it is not FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes. Unlike Ozempic, Saxenda is a daily injection for weight loss. Your health provider will increase the dosage every week until the highest maintenance dosage of 3 mg daily is reached.
There is no Saxenda shortage, making this medication a promising alternative for those desperately trying to find Ozempic, or Wegovy.
Ozempic alternatives - these are the side effects
Since many of the Ozempic alternatives in this article work in similar ways, side effects are similar for all of these drugs. In general, side effects are most common when you start using the medications and as you increase your dose.
Common side effects of Ozempic and Ozempic alternatives include:
Diarrhea or constipation
Injection site reactions, such as pain or skin irritation
Serious side effects are possible with Ozempic and Ozempic alternatives, but rare. They can include:
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
Severe allergic reaction
What Ozempic alternative is right for me?
All of the Ozempic alternatives above—either for type 2 diabetes or weight loss—are effective, safe, and well-tolerated. If Ozempic isn’t available to you, either because of a shortage or because your insurance doesn’t cover it, your healthcare provider will help you find the right Ozempic alternative, factoring in your age, health situation, treatment goals, and personal preferences.
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.
Ahrén, B., Carr, M. C., Murphy, K., et al. (2017). Albiglutide for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: An integrated safety analysis of the HARMONY phase 3 trials. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice , 126 , 230–239. doi:10.1016/j.diabres.2017.02.017. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28284167/
Blair, H. A. & Keating, G. M. (2015). Albiglutide: a review of its use in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Drugs , 75 (6), 651–663. doi:10.1007/s40265-015-0370-5. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25777969/
Bridges, A., Bistas, K. G., & Jacobs, T. F. (2022). Exenatide. StatPearls . Retrieved on July 16, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK518981/
Burness, C. B. & Scott, L. J. (2015). Dulaglutide: A review in type 2 diabetes. BioDrugs , 29 (6), 407–418. doi:10.1007/s40259-015-0143-4. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26423061/
Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH). (2019). Pharmacoeconomic Review Report: Semaglutide (Ozempic): (Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.): Indication: For the treatment of adults patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus to improve glycemic control, in combination with metformin (second-line treatment), and in combination with metformin and sulfonylurea (third-line treatment) [Internet]. Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK543967/
Chamberlin, S. & Dabbs, W. (2019). Semaglutide (Ozempic) for type 2 diabetes mellitus. American Family Physician , 100 (2), 116–117. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31305048/
DailyMed. (2022). OZEMPIC-semaglutide injection, solution. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=adec4fd2-6858-4c99-91d4-531f5f2a2d79
Mehta, A., Marso, S. P., & Neeland, I. J. (2017). Liraglutide for weight management: a critical review of the evidence. Obesity Science & Practice , 3 (1), 3–14. doi:10.1002/osp4.84. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28392927/
Min, T. & Bain, S. C. (2021). The Role of tirzepatide, dual GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonist, in the management of type 2 diabetes: The SURPASS clinical trials. Diabetes Therapy , 12 (1), 143–157. doi:10.1007/s13300-020-00981-0. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33325008/
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD). (2016). Pramlintide. LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548949/
O'Neil, P. M., Birkenfeld, A. L., McGowan, B., et al. (2018). Efficacy and safety of semaglutide compared with liraglutide and placebo for weight loss in patients with obesity: a randomised, double-blind, placebo and active controlled, dose-ranging, phase 2 trial. Lancet (London, England) , 392 (10148), 637–649. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31773-2. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30122305/
Scott, L. J. (2020). Dulaglutide: A review in type 2 diabetes. Drugs , 80 (2), 197–208. doi:10.1007/s40265-020-01260-9. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32002850/
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
Wilding, J., Batterham, R. L., Calanna, S., et al. (2021). Once-weekly semaglutide in adults with overweight or obesity. The New England Journal of Medicine , 384 (11), 989–1002. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2032183. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33567185/