Wegovy vs Trulicity: Two GLP-1 medications, but which is best for weight loss?

Wegovy vs Trulicity: Two GLP-1 medications, but which is best for weight loss?

Wegovy and Trulicity are both GLP-1 medications that help with weight loss, but only one is FDA approved for weight management. So does that make it a better option for you? Find out here.

The Found Team
March 17, 2023
5 min read
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You’ve most likely heard of Wegovy® because of its success in helping people lose weight. It may also be top of mind because it’s been hard to get since 2021, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it for chronic weight management. Wegovy’s been in high demand—and on and off the FDA’s drug shortages list—ever since. And in late 2023, Novo Nordisk, which manufactures Wegovy, released a study showing that it can prevent heart attacks and strokes so effectively, many believe it will have a major impact on how doctors treat obesity and heart disease. 

Trulicity® is also a household name for many people with type 2 diabetes or who know someone who does. Trulicity, which Eli Lilly manufactures, is FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes. But it’s also shown promising results for those who are prescribed it off-label to treat excess weight and obesity.

If you’re starting a weight loss journey, which do you take? Having the support of a provider who understands obesity medicine can help you navigate all of the medications available. 

Found-affiliated health care providers specialize in obesity medicine and can match your prescription to target the root causes of your inability to lose weight. As you and your provider decide what drug will work best given your unique biology and needs, it’s helpful to learn about the options and their differences.  

Here’s what we know about Wegovy vs Trulicity for weight loss and how they work to support weight loss. 

What is Wegovy?

Wegovy is a brand name for the drug semaglutide. It’s FDA-approved for weight loss in adults with obesity or overweight with a (a BMI of 30 or higher) or those with a BMI of 27 or above and a weight-related condition like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes. 

Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. It mimics the GLP-1 hormone your body naturally makes, which helps regulate hunger and cravings, blood sugar levels, and slows stomach emptying. By diminishing your appetite, Wegovy (semaglutide) can help support weight loss.

What is Trulicity?

Dulaglutide is the active ingredient and drug name for the brand name Trulicity. It was FDA-approved in September 2014 for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Used off-label, it can also successfully treat overweight and obesity. 

If Trulicity sounds familiar, you may also recognize other GLP-1 meds used to treat type 2 diabetes like Byetta® and Bydureon BCise® (exenatide), Victoza® (liraglutide), and Rybelsus® (semaglutide).  

Like Wegovy, Trulicity’s  part of the GLP-1 receptor agonist drug class. It promotes weight loss by helping with satiety and stimulating the pancreas’s insulin secretion after eating to stabilize blood sugar levels. Along with regulating appetite, dulaglutide works by slowing stomach emptying, which helps you feel fuller longer. 

Wegovy vs Trulicity: which is more effective for weight loss?

Both medications have shown significant weight loss when combined with lifestyle changes like a reduced-calorie diet and physical activity

However, in clinical trials of semaglutide and dulaglutide, people taking semaglutide lost more weight. For example, a 68-week study of semaglutide published in 2021 in The New England Journal of Medicine found that of 1,961 patients, those given a weekly 2.4-mg dose of semaglutide lost an average of 34 pounds (14.9% of body weight) compared to 6 pounds (2.4%) in the placebo group. 

In another study, published in Diabetes Care in 2021, patients taking 4.5 mg of dulaglutide (Trulicity), the highest dose in the trial, lost an average of 10 pounds after 36 weeks. 

Because the two drugs act similarly, it’s important to work with a health care provider who specializes in obesity medicine to choose the most effective treatment for you.  

Trulicity and Wegovy: cardiovascular benefits

In addition to improving blood sugar and supporting weight loss, Trulicity is also FDA-approved for heart health. It reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events like death, heart attack, and stroke in people with type 2 diabetes who have heart disease or cardiovascular risk factors. 

And although it’s not FDA-approved to reduce cardiovascular risk yet, Wegovy has also demonstrated significant cardiovascular benefits. In a 2023 study, Wegovy reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 20% for people with a BMI of 27 or greater who don’t have type 2 diabetes. We know that weight loss can improve cardiovascular health, so it’s not surprising that people who lose weight with Wegovy may also improve their heart health. 

Wegovy vs Trulicity: side effects

Like many drugs in the GLP-1 receptor agonist family, some of the most common side effects for Wegovy and Trulicity are nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. But, there are more serious side effects you should be aware of before taking them. Here’s what to look out for:

Wegovy side effects

Serious side effects:

  • Risk of Thyroid C-cell Tumors
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypersensitivity reactions
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Severe gastrointestinal disease
  • Diabetic retinopathy complications
  • Acute gallbladder disease
  • Heart rate increase

Novo Nordisk also warns in its safety prescribing info that those who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant in the next two months shouldn’t take Wegovy. Neither should patients who are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed.

Trulicity side effects

Mild side effects include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain,  decreased appetite, indigestion, and fatigue.

Eli Lilly recommends following a few tips to help manage these side effects: 

  • Eat smaller meals.
  • Stop eating when full.
  • Avoid fat or fatty foods.
  • Try eating bland foods like toast, crackers, or rice.

Serious side effects: 

  • Risk of thyroid tumors 
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Severe gastrointestinal problems
  • Changes in vision (diabetic retinopathy complications)
  • Acute gallbladder problems

Wegovy and Trulicity carry warnings that if you or any in your family have ever had a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or an endocrine system condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), you shouldn’t take these drugs.

How are Wegovy and Trulicity taken?

Wegovy and Trulicity are both subcutaneous injections (under the skin). You’ll inject yourself in your upper arm, upper thigh, or abdomen once a week. Your health care provider will walk you through exactly how and when to take the drug when you start it.

Wegovy vs Trulicity: dosing schedules 

Wegovy and Trulicity each have step-up dosing schedules that start you off at a lower dose and increase as your body shows it can tolerate it. 

Trulicity dosing schedule

The recommended starting dose for Trulicity is 0.75 mg once weekly. After four weeks, your provider may increase your dose, depending on tolerability and weight loss, to a recommended maximum dose of 4.5 mg weekly.

Wegovy dosing schedule

The recommended starting dose for Wegovy is 0.25 mg once weekly. After four weeks, depending on tolerability and weight loss, your provider may increase your dose, up to a maximum maintenance dose of 2.4 mg weekly in month five.

Do Wegovy and Trulicity cost the same?

Weight loss results aside, cost is one of the significant differences between these drugs. Trulicity has been around for almost a decade, allowing it time to funnel through the health insurance approval system. Because of this, many insurance companies cover a majority of the cost of Trulicity when prescribed as indicated. According to Eli Lilly, about 92% of monthly co-pays are between $0 and $30 if your insurance plan covers the medication. If you don’t have insurance or your plan doesn’t cover it, the out-of-pocket cost is $977.42 per month. 

On the other hand, getting a prescription for Wegovy may include more hurdles when it comes to cost. First, not all health insurance policies cover the cost of prescription medicine for chronic weight management; neither does Medicare. Second, insurance companies that do cover Wegovy may require step therapy—a process of trying other, less costly treatments first, before approving Wegovy.  

While the list price for Wegovy is $1,349.02 per package, which is a 28-day supply, Novo Nordisk maintains that most people don’t pay the list price because of the Wegovy coupons it offers through its savings program. 

If you and your provider decide that Trulicity or Wegovy are right for you, check your insurance coverage before filling your prescription to get an estimate on how much you may pay out-of-pocket.

Are there other medications you can take for weight loss besides Wegovy or Trulicity?

Many other medications are approved for weight loss, including several other GLP-1 drugs. Other drugs are prescribed off-label for weight management; these are medicines that are FDA-approved for another use but have been shown to also aid weight loss. 

Navigating the many choices for medication-assisted weight loss is easier when you understand the unique biological barriers you face in attaining your goal weight. An obesity medicine specialist can tailor a prescription and treatment plan to work with your body’s biology to help you lose weight. Found Health’s affiliated providers use MetabolicPrint™, a proprietary assessment, to help you and your provider understand the challenges of your biology so together you can choose the best medication to support your goals. 

Trulicity vs Wegovy: which is better?

Clinical studies can only tell you averages: They can’t tell you how a specific medication will work for you. Several factors will influence your decision when choosing medication-assisted weight loss. These factors could include side effects, which you may experience with one drug but not with another. They can also include cost, which could depend on your insurance provider. 

At Found Health, you’ll have access to a Found-affiliated health care provider trained in obesity medicine who understands all the options available, and can use your personal MetabolicPrint to tailor a prescription for you. Found offers a science-backed approach to weight care that's based on your unique biology, psychology, lifestyle, and prescription medication needs. 

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.

About Found

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.

Published date:
March 17, 2023
Meet the author
The Found Team
The Found Team

Sources

  • FDA Approves TrulicityTM (dulaglutide), Lilly’s Once-Weekly Therapy for Adults with Type 2 Diabetes | Eli Lilly and Company. (n.d.). Eli Lilly and Company. https://investor.lilly.com/news-releases/news-release-details/fda-approves-trulicitytm-dulaglutide-lillys-once-weekly-therapy
  • Bajaj, S., Bob, B., & Herman, B. (2023, August 8). Wegovy Cardiovascular Study Has Doctors Seeing New Possibilities In Weight Loss Drug. STAT. https://www.statnews.com/2023/08/08/heart-problems-wegovy-novo/
  • Wilding, J., Batterham, R. L., Calanna, S., Davies, M. J., Van Gaal, L. F., Lingvay, I., McGowan, B., Rosenstock, J., Tran, M. T. D., Wadden, T. A., Wharton, S., Yokote, K., Zeuthen, N., & Kushner, R. F. (2021). Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity. The New England Journal of Medicine, 384(11), 989–1002. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2032183
  • Juan P. Frias, Enzo Bonora, Luis Nevarez Ruiz, Ying G. Li, Zhuoxin Yu, Zvonko Milicevic, Raleigh Malik, M. Angelyn Bethel, David A. Cox; Efficacy and Safety of Dulaglutide 3.0 mg and 4.5 mg Versus Dulaglutide 1.5 mg in Metformin-Treated Patients With Type 2 Diabetes in a Randomized Controlled Trial (AWARD-11). Diabetes Care 1 March 2021; 44 (3): 765–773. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc20-1473
  • Lincoff, A. M., Brown‐Frandsen, K., Colhoun, H. M., Deanfield, J., Emerson, S. S., Esbjerg, S., Hardt‐Lindberg, S., Hovingh, G. K., Kahn, S. E., Kushner, R. F., Lingvay, I., Oral, T. K., Michelsen, M. M., Plutzky, J., Tornøe, C. W., & Ryan, D. H. (2023). Semaglutide and Cardiovascular Outcomes in Obesity without Diabetes. The New England Journal of Medicine, 389(24), 2221–2232. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2307563
  • “Trulicity Cost Information” With or Without Insurance | Trulicity® (dulaglutide) injection. (n.d.). https://www.lillypricinginfo.com/trulicity
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