Truth be told, if you’ve turned on the TV to watch the news, listened on your commute home, or read the latest, both Wegovy and Ozempic have been mentioned almost more than any other current event. So, to say people have the meds on their radar is a major understatement.
Not only a shortage of the drugs, but the fact that people have had incredible weight loss results, has sparked a significant surge in chatter. Wegovy and Ozempic, both manufactured by Novo Nordisk, work similarly and have semaglutide as their active ingredient.
However, they differ in that Wegovy has a higher dose and has been approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for chronic weight management in overweight and obese patients, while Ozempic is FDA-approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes only.
Along with that, these medications are similar to the likes of tirzepatide, sold under the brand name Mounjaro, and liraglutide, sold as Saxenda or Victoza. The latter are a part of the drug class called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1s) receptor agonists (we’ll dive into what that means in just a second).
At this point, though, you’re probably grappling with the fact that Wegovy and Ozempic share the same ingredient and wondering how they’re so different. We’re here to help explain. Here’s what we know.
As GLP-1s, semaglutide drugs work by mimicking the GLP-1 gut hormone. This hormone works in the gut and the brain and makes us feel fuller by slowing digestion. This helps reduce appetite, allowing us to lose weight.
Wegovy is meant to be prescribed for weight management in addition to behavioral changes like diet and exercise in patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater or a BMI of 27 or greater with weight-related medical conditions like high cholesterol and high blood pressure (hypertension).
And, as semaglutide also works to increase insulin production and help lower blood sugar levels, Ozempic supports glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Ozempic also lowers the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events, like heart attack and stroke, in patients with known heart disease.
One fundamental difference between Ozempic and Wegovy is the amount of semaglutide in each dose. Wegovy and Ozempic are once-weekly injectable medications and come in prefilled pens. Here are the dosing schedules:
Dosages for Wegovy
Month one: 0.25 mg/ week
Month two: 0.5 mg/ week
Month three: 1 mg/ week
Month four: 1.7 mg/ week
Month five (and beyond): 2.4 mg/ week (maximum dose)
Dosages for Ozempic
First four weeks: 0.25 mg/ week
Weeks 5-8: 0.5 mg/ week
Weeks 9-12: 1 mg/ week
Week 13 (and beyond): 2 mg/ week (maximum dose)
These schedules are recommended by the FDA and the manufacturer. Your health care provider will discuss all dosages and how to use Wegovy or Ozempic when prescribing them.
Cost is one of the caveats. Even though obesity is a chronic disease—and chronic weight management and intervention are needed to help manage it— Wegovy isn’t always covered by your insurance, so it can be much more expensive. It will depend on your health care coverage and plan. Medicare doesn’t cover Wegovy, and the Affordable Care Act doesn’t require health plans to cover obesity-related medications or surgeries (it does cover obesity screenings).
On the other hand, Ozempic is a type 2 diabetes medication, so it’s often covered by most insurance plans. It can be a much less out-of-pocket expense for you. This is one of the reasons it’s often prescribed off-label to treat overweight and obesity—to save you money. (Insurance coverage may be different if Ozempic is being used off-label.)
Like with other prescription medications, there can be a risk of side effects. The most common for both semaglutide drugs are nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. Still, there are uncommon risks of inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) and thyroid cancer—although extremely rare.
Additionally, semaglutide has shown meaningful results in 1,961 adults with obesity or overweight who were given a 2.4 mg dosage in a clinical trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Of those participants, the average loss was about 15 percent of body weight over 68 weeks compared to 2.4 percent in the placebo group.
When measuring Ozempic vs Wegovy is up to you and your health care provider. As they share the same active ingredient, both drugs are effective for weight management. However, just like both Ozempic and Wegovy labels assert, it’s important to pair any weight loss drug with behavioral changes, like a reduced calorie diet, exercise, and taking care of your mental health. Obesity is a disease that needs to be cared for and treated as one, no matter which medication you receive.
*GLP-1 Note: "Found is not currently prescribing GLP-1 medications for weight loss, but we are considering it as a part of our strategy to help members meet their weight-loss goals in the future. Stay tuned for updates on a potential GLP-1 rollout at Found. Until then, we can still help you meet your weight-loss goals with our current online weight loss program."
Found offers a science-backed approach to weight care that's based on your unique biology, psychology, lifestyle, and prescription medication needs. The average Found member loses 10 percent of their body weight during their first 12 months on the program. In total, members have lost 800,000 pounds to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.