Wegovy made national headlines in June 2021 as the first drug approved for chronic weight management since 2014 after The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave it the green light for treating those with overweight and obesity.
And, although the FDA approved Wegovy in 2021, its active ingredient, semaglutide, entered our orbit with two popular diabetes medications you most likely have heard of—Ozempic and Rybelsus—both produced by the same manufacturer as Wegovy, Novo Nordisk.
Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1) and part of the drug class designed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Other GLP-1 medications have been on the market for over a decade, such as liraglutide (Victoza) and dulaglutide (Trulicity). Under the brand name Saxenda, Liraglutide was also approved for weight management in 2014.
After Wegovy was FDA-approved, a door opened for another medication — tirzepatide, known under its brand name Mounjaro. The FDA approved the drug in May 2022 as a type 2 diabetes medication. Like Wegovy, it may make an even bigger impact in the community for weight management because it shows some magnificent weight loss effects.
An eye-opening tirzepatide study showed outstanding weight-loss results. The findings of the SURMOUNT-1 double-blind, randomized clinical trial were published in 2022 and included over 2,500 participants with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more or a BMI of 27 or more with a weight-related medical condition, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol. The 72-week trial showed a jaw-dropping average body weight loss of at least 20 percent in those who took a 20 mg weekly dose. Those who took the placebo had only a 3 percent weight loss, on average.
To put that in perspective, bariatric surgery results in an estimated 25-30 percent body weight loss in patients by years one to two, according to a study of 1,787 participants in JAMA Surgery.
Interestingly enough, Eli Lilly, tirzepatide’s manufacturer, has shared it’s only a couple of research studies away from being ready to submit the drug to the FDA for approval as a prescription weight loss drug. This could happen as early as this year.
It’s easy to get confused when it comes to Wegovy vs Mounjaro, and you may wonder which one you should take. So, here’s what we know now to help you make the most educated decision when discussing options with your health care providers.
When debating Mounjaro vs Wegovy, it’s important to understand how each medication works and how it can help you lose weight. Let’s review how Wegovy and Mounjaro work to help you understand their similarities and differences.
As mentioned briefly above, Wegovy (semaglutide) is a GLP-1 that mimics the hormone our body releases when we eat and can enhance insulin release, resulting in a slower digestive process (gastric emptying) and increase satiety, encouraging weight reduction.
Wegovy comes as a once-weekly injection. You typically start Wegovy at a weekly 0.25 mg dose and increase the dose every four weeks until you reach the full 2.4 mg dose. However, following the dosing schedule your health care provider recommends is important.
Tirzepatide takes it further as a GIP receptor agonist (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) and GLP-1. A 2022 Eli Lilly press release states, “GIP is a hormone that may complement the effects of GLP-1 receptor agonists.” This is important because the two mimic the hormones GLP-1 and GIP, and work together to bolster weight loss, making it highly effective because it imitates two unique hormones instead of just one.
Mounjaro (tirzepatide) is an injectable medication indicated for use in patients with type 2 diabetes. It’s administered subcutaneously once weekly with a recommended starting dosage of 2.5 mg. After four weeks, your health care provider may increase tirzepatide doses in 2.5 mg increments up to a maximum of 15 mg weekly for the treatment of obesity.
Honestly, neither Wegovy nor Mounjario is a magic injection. However, both drugs have made significant steps in the battle against overweight and obesity. The medications aren’t for short-term weight loss goals. Like all anti-obesity medications (off-label or not), you must also make behavior and lifestyle changes. These changes can include getting enough physical activity and making healthier, whole-food diet choices to support sustainable weight management.
Additionally, semaglutide has been approved for long-term use and has shown most patients tolerate it well. Overweight and obesity are chronic medical, biological conditions, meaning once you take medication and lose weight, the condition doesn’t just “go away” if you stop taking the medication.
Think of it like this: If you’re diagnosed with a mental health condition like bipolar depression and prescribed a mood stabilizer, you’ll likely be on medication for the rest of your life to help combat depression and mania. Even if you start to feel better, you still take your medication to reduce the risk of relapse. This is the same as taking prescription meds for treating overweight and obesity.
So which is better in a Wegovy vs Mounjaro head-to-head competition? The answer to this question comes down to you and your health care provider. The most common side effects of diarrhea and upset stomach are similar for both medications, so it can depend on how well your body tolerates them.
On top of that, your budget and insurance coverage influence your treatment plan and what you decide to try first. Unfortunately, there’s been a major Mounjaro shortage in the U.S., which may limit your access to the medication. Because it’s a diabetes drug, it may be covered by insurance when prescribed off-label for obesity, which adds to its popularity.
Conversely, many major insurance companies have yet to cover medications that treat overweight and obesity, so your out-of-pocket expenses could be much higher for Wegovy. (Wegovy has also been in short supply, but Novo Nordisk is ramping up production.)
Your health care provider will cover all the necessary information and may opt for less expensive and more accessible medications first, like Ozempic. At the end of the day, it’s based on how your body manages the medications and what you feel best on when considering Wegovy vs Mounjaro.
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Access to GLP-1s prescriptions is now available as part of Found's weight-loss program. 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 medical history, eating behavior, lab work, and insurance coverage. If a GLP-1 is not appropriate or affordable for you, Found providers can help determine if another effective medication is.
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