It’s big news for anyone considering prescription medication to help their weight loss journey: In 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved tirzepatide, under the brand name Zepbound™, as the latest prescription weight loss drug. Eli Lilly’s tirzepatide is also prescribed for type 2 diabetes under the brand name Mounjaro®. Before Zepbound’s approval, semaglutide, sold under the brand name Ozempic®, was considered a first-line anti-obesity medication. However, new studies suggest Zepbound may offer even more significant weight loss results than Ozempic.
So, when it comes to Zepbound vs Ozempic, how are they different? How do they work? Which one is more affordable? And will Zepbound become today’s most sought-after prescription weight loss drug? At Found, we use a doctor-designed weight loss program and a proprietary metabolic health analysis, MetabolicPrint™, to match members with the right medication to address the root causes of their weight challenges. We’ve gathered resources to help you understand the difference between Zepbound and Ozempic for weight loss.
Ozempic is a brand name for the type 2 diabetes drug semaglutide that’s used off-label for weight loss. Health care providers also prescribe semaglutide for weight loss under the brand name Wegovy, which is FDA-approved to treat obesity and long-term weight management.
Semaglutide, a GLP-1 agonist, triggers glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptors by mimicking the body’s natural hormone. When activated, these receptors signal your body to produce insulin, lowering blood sugar, decreasing hunger and appetite, and making you feel fuller. As a result, Ozempic helps you eat fewer calories.
Zepbound is a dual-agonist (GLP-1/GIP) mimicking two of the body’s hormones, which trigger two different receptors. Like Ozempic, it targets the GLP-1 receptors, with similar effects on appetite and blood sugar. But Zepbound is also an agonist that activates the glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) receptors in the stomach and brain.
Like GLP-1, GIP helps regulate blood sugar by increasing the body’s insulin response. But GIP also seems to affect how your brain regulates the way your body uses energy. It may also decrease fat storage while increasing the body’s energy use independent of diet. As a result, dual agonists may be more effective against obesity than GLP-1 agonists alone.
In the 2021 STEP 3 clinical trial of Ozempic, participants lost an average of 16% of body weight over 68 weeks. The placebo group in the same trial lost 5.7% of body weight, so Ozempic helped participants lose more than 10% more weight than lifestyle changes alone. But almost 14% of those taking Ozempic lost less than 5% of body weight, underscoring that your unique biology may not be the best fit for a GLP-1 for weight loss.
In the 2023 SURMOUNT-3 trial of Zepbound, participants lost an impressive 24% of body weight over 72 weeks, compared to 4.5% for the placebo group. Zepbound was nearly 20% more effective than diet and exercise changes alone. But the study also found that in almost 29% of participants, tirzepatide led to a loss of less than 5% of body weight. Not every weight-loss drug works equally for everyone.
As of now, there aren’t any published studies that directly compare these medications’ effectiveness for weight loss. Still, indirect comparisons of the studies above indicate that Zepbound may be one of the most effective medications available for weight loss. Since GLP-1s and Zepbound don’t work for everyone’s weight care journey, it’s important to have a prescription weight loss plan tailored just for you. Found’s clinical team designs treatment plans personalized to your unique biology and needs and the root cause of your weight gain—to help you lose weight safely and sustainably.
Both medications may take some time before you start to see significant weight loss.
If your Found-affiliated health care provider prescribes Ozempic, typically, you’ll start on a .25 mg dose, increasing the dosage every four weeks to a maximum of 2 mg. While this approach helps reduce side effects, at lower doses, Ozempic may not be as effective for reducing appetite, so you may not see significant change until you reach a higher dose.
With Zepbound, you’ll follow a similar program starting on a low dose (typically 2.5 mg) that will gradually increase, as needed, by 2.5 mg every four weeks to a maximum dose of 15 mg. Higher doses are typically more effective for weight loss while using Zepbound as well, so you may see more results as your dose increases. However, not all drugs work for everyone when it comes to weight management. The best medication is the one that matches your unique biology. Taking the MetabolicPrint quiz will help your Found-affiliated clinician determine which personalized prescription weight loss plan is right for you.
Zepbound and Ozempic have similar side effects, including nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux. More serious but less common side effects include pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, and worsening of diabetic eye disease. Those with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasias should not use these drugs. People who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are nursing should not use these drugs. Find detailed side effects and risk information for specific medications here.
These side effects are more likely with both medications when you first start taking them or when your dose increases. You may experience side effects with one weight loss drug that you don’t experience with the other. Or you might find that neither of these drugs helps you lose weight. This is one reason your health care provider gradually increases the dose—giving your body time to adjust to the medication, and to see which one is best tailored to your needs.
Which of these two obesity treatment medications is more affordable? If your insurance doesn’t cover it, both medications are expensive out of pocket. The manufacturer list price for Ozempic is $935.77 for a four-week supply; for Zepbound, one month’s supply is $1,059.87. However, both medications can cost as little as $25/month with either the Ozempic savings card, the Zepbound coupon, or insurance.
Although clinical studies and average weight loss for participants provide helpful information, they can’t tell you how well a medication will work for you personally. Which one is best for your weight management depends on a variety of individual factors—and your prescription should be personalized.
That’s why your MetabolicPrint™ profile is an essential part of your weight loss plan at Found Health. This unique metabolic health assessment helps your Found-affiliated provider identify your metabolic challenges and develop the personalized prescription plan that best supports your health 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.
GLP-1 prescriptions, filled through your local pharmacy, are now available as part of Found's weight-loss toolkit. While GLP-1s can be 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 and lab work. If a GLP-1 is not appropriate for you, our providers will work with you to determine an effective medication for your health profile.