Here’s the truth about Ozempic vs other weight-loss drugs

Here’s the truth about Ozempic vs other weight-loss drugs

What is the best weight-loss medicine? Here’s a comparison of Ozempic vs other weight-loss drugs.

The Found Team
January 1, 2024
5 min read
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Ozempic® has become so synonymous with weight loss that it is practically a household name (think “Kleenex®” for tissues, “Pampers®” for diapers, and “Chapstick®” for lip balm). With that kind of popularity plus a proven ability to produce rapid weight loss and reduced risk for serious health conditions, the burning question persists: Will Ozempic—a medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat type 2 diabetes, not obesity—make other drugs used for weight loss obsolete? 

Here’s more on Ozempic vs other weight-loss drugs.

Why Ozempic is so effective for weight loss

Ozempic (semaglutide) is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist or GLP-1, and it mimics a hormone produced in the gut when you eat. Drugs in this class work by prompting your pancreas to produce more insulin while preventing your liver from manufacturing and releasing excess sugar. (This is why GLP-1 receptor agonists are so effective for treating type 2 diabetes.) Ozempic slows digestion, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. 

For weight loss, Ozempic can lead to results that obesity experts consider groundbreaking. In a double-blind study, half of those taking a weekly 2.4 mg dose of semaglutide for 68 weeks, paired with diet and exercise, lost an average of 15% of their body weight, while those making lifestyle changes alone lost 2.4%. The efficacy of Ozempic and other weight-loss medications allows health care professionals to manage obesity much in the same way they manage other chronic diseases like high blood pressure and asthma. 

That’s why medical professionals prescribe Ozempic for weight loss, even though it isn’t FDA-approved for obesity. (It’s a common and legal practice called off-label prescribing.) 

And Ozempic doesn’t stand alone. Wegovy,® which the FDA has approved to treat obesity, also contains the active ingredient semaglutide but in a slightly higher dose. Novo Nordisk manufactures both Wegovy and Ozempic, but unlike Ozempic, Wegovy is not approved to treat type 2 diabetes.

Ozempic vs other weight-loss drugs: Are older medications obsolete?

 Rather than taking over the weight-loss medications market, Ozempic has lifted the veil on the field of anti-obesity medications for chronic weight management—and with it, changed attitudes about them. Other weight-loss drugs, on the market years before Ozempic and other GLP-1 receptor agonists, have gotten a second look.  

As people become more comfortable seeking medical help to manage their obesity, physicians—like those at Found—can prescribe these other medications and include them in modern weight management. Found providers use MetabolicPrint™, a proprietary tool to assess your biology and tailor a prescription and treatment plan for sustainable weight loss to match your unique needs. 

Your Found-affiliated provider will use your MetabolicPrint profile to develop an individualized approach to prescribing drugs based on your unique biology and to address the root cause of your weight gain. GLP-1s are not for everyone, which is why Found offers a range of safe and effective drugs for weight loss beyond the GLP-1 drug class. 

The wide choice of medications and increased demand for medical weight loss allows providers trained in obesity medicine to personalize care by zeroing in on the precise drugs to help each individual with weight management. By uncovering the root cause of your weight gain using your MetabolicPrint profile, your provider can better help you lose weight safely and sustainably.

How Ozempic paves the way for GLP-1 weight-loss drugs

Those who struggle with weight loss and weight management can now access, if clinically appropriate, other drugs in the GLP-1 receptor agonist class. These medications allow people with excess weight or obesity to lose significant amounts of weight. At the same time, these drugs can help people cut their risk of death, heart attack, cardiovascular disease, and other weight-related conditions.  

As the rates of obesity and weight-related medical conditions climb and new medications become available, patients continue to learn about weight-loss drugs. CNBC reports the competition between Pfizer, Amgen, and other pharmaceutical companies to develop new weight-loss drugs continues to heat up. Financial institutions like Barclays and Goldman Sachs predict obesity drugs will become a $100 billion global market by 2030. (A trial published in November 2023 in The New England Journal of Medicine noted Wegovy’s ability to help lower the risk of heart disease and cardiovascular events, which only bolsters these predictions.) 

Ozempic vs other weight-loss drugs: Reasons for more medication choices 

GLP-1s are only one arrow in a quiver of possible treatments for successful and sustainable weight management. GLP-1s, which have often been in short supply, can be expensive and often are not covered by insurance when used off-label for weight loss. Add to that the fact that it’s not always possible to know what drug will work. Not everyone responds the same way to weight-loss medication because everyone’s biology is unique. Your Found-affiliated provider has access to a broad toolkit of medications and will work with you to determine the drug that best fits your unique biology and needs.

As such, Ozempic may not work for everyone nor produce the same results due to individual variations in how the body responds to the drug. “The best weight-loss medication for an individual depends on multiple factors, including taking into account known mean efficacy of the medication and an individual’s medical history, comorbidities, contraindications, and personal preferences,” says Ivania Rizo, MD, assistant professor and director of obesity medicine, section of endocrinology, diabetes, nutrition, and weight management, Boston Medical Center.

Side effects of Ozempic 

Sometimes, drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are not the right fit. The FDA warns you should not take semaglutide if you have a family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 or medullary thyroid cancer. Do not use Ozempic if you have insulin-dependent diabetes, or diabetic ketoacidosis. Although rare, semaglutide has been shown to cause thyroid c-cell tumors in animal studies, which is included in Ozempic’s “black box” warning. The most common side effects of semaglutide include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal issues. 

If you take Ozempic or another GLP-1, contact your Found health care provider immediately if you notice serious side effects such as trouble with swallowing or developing hoarseness, swelling, or a lump in your neck. You can find detailed side effect and risk information for Ozempic here

How to know what’s best for you  

Dr. Rizo says other drugs can still have a role in weight management. It’s important to seek advice from a health care provider who is well-versed in these medications and will consider your medical history and preferences into account. 

Found-affiliated providers understand weight loss medications and how to use them to target the underlying issues that keep people from achieving their weight loss goals. “We also know there is still variability in response, and if a medication has not decreased weight by 5% at a therapeutic dose, we discontinue it and pursue other pharmacotherapy or interventions,” Dr. Rizo explains.

Start your medical weight loss journey 

To discover your MetabolicPrint™ and start your journey with Found, take our quiz. 

Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, having served more than 200,000 members to date. 

A Found membership can help you uncover the root cause of your weight loss challenges. Using the MetabolicPrint assessment (a tool designed by Found to help its clinicians determine your weight management plan), and consultations with health care professionals trained in obesity medicine, lets Found create a weight management program that is personalized to you. 

Additionally, Found offers health coaching and an in-app behavior change program that helps you get into a physical activity routine and make other lifestyle changes.  Together, prescription drugs—whether generic or brand name—and support from a provider, health coach, and community—help you follow a weight-management plan that works with your life and your individual biology. 

GLP-1*

GLP-1 prescriptions, filled through your local pharmacy, are now available as part of Found's weight-loss toolkit. While GLP-1s are effective for weight loss, they are not clinically appropriate for everyone. Eligibility for a GLP-1 is based on a thorough evaluation of your medical history, eating behavior, lab work, and insurance coverage. If a GLP-1 is not appropriate for you, our providers will work with you to determine an effective medication for your health profile.

Published date:
January 1, 2024
Meet the author
The Found Team
The Found Team

Sources

  • Wilding, John P.H., et al. Once-weekly semaglutide in adults with overweight or obesity | New England Journal of Medicine, March 18, 2021. https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa2032183
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Developing Products for Weight Management Revision 1, February 2007. https://www.fda.gov/regulatory-information/search-fda-guidance-documents/developing-products-weight-management-revision-1
  • Singh G, Krauthamer M, Bjalme-Evans M. Wegovy (semaglutide): a new weight loss drug for chronic weight management. J Investig Med. 2022 Jan;70(1):5-13. doi: 10.1136/jim-2021-001952. Epub 2021 Oct 27. PMID: 34706925; PMCID: PMC8717485. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8717485/
  • Park, Alice. “A New Genetic Test Could Determine Which Weight Loss Drug Will Actually Work For You.” Time, June 30, 2023. https://time.com/6290767/weight-loss-drug-genetic-test-ozempic-wegovy
  • . Loos, R.J.F., Yeo, G.S.H. The genetics of obesity: from discovery to biology. Nat Rev Genet 23, 120–133 (2022). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41576-021-00414-z#Sec10
  • Acosta, Andres, et al. Selection of Antiobesity Medications Based on Phenotypes Enhances Weight Loss: A Pragmatic Trial in an Obesity Clinic - Wiley Online Library. Accessed October 21, 2023. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.23120
  • Putka, Sophie. “When Wegovy Doesn’t Work for Weight Loss.” MedPage Today, June 27, 2023. https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/features/105218
  • Chen, Elaine. “Why doesn’t everyone lose weight on Ozempic-type drugs? Researchers look for genetic clues.” Stat+, October 18, 2023. https://www.statnews.com/2023/10/18/wegovy-mounjaro-glp1-effectiveness/
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