Semaglutide is just as effective as Wegovy and Ozempic — because semaglutide is the active ingredient in both prescription medications. Ozempic and Wegovy are the brand names for two versions of semaglutide.
Originally, semaglutide was developed to treat Type 2 diabetes. Under the brand name Ozempic, semaglutide was approved in 2017. During the next few years, researchers began to notice that semaglutide also promoted weight loss through the reduction of users’ cravings and hunger. Because of this, the Food and Drug Administration approved it under the name Wegovy in 2021 as a treatment for weight loss. Keep reading to learn a little more about the various versions of this revolutionary medication.
What Is Semaglutide?
As a GLP-1 receptor agonist, semaglutide increases the production of insulin and the disposal of blood sugar, thus improving glycemic control. It’s used for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes under the name Ozempic and for weight management under the name Wegovy. In most cases, semaglutide is administered by injection, although versions that can be taken by mouth were approved in the United States in 2019.
What Is Ozempic?
Ozempic is the brand name for a version of semaglutide with relatively lower doses. It’s used to treat Type 2 diabetes, though it may also result in weight loss. Its use also reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke in adults with heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Ozempic is highly effective at supporting weight management.
To qualify for an Ozempic prescription, you must have Type 2 diabetes, an uncontrolled A1C level, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, heart failure, or a high risk of cardiovascular disease. Patients with a history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 should not take Ozempic.
Typically, health care providers start patients off with a low dose of 0.25 mg per week. That dosage can be increased by up to 0.25 mg every month up to a maximum weekly dose of 1.0 mg. Two injection pens are available for Ozempic: one with 1 mg of medication and one with 4 mg.
As with all semaglutide medications, common side effects may include abdominal pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea and vomiting. More serious side effects that require a visit to a doctor include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of lower extremities or face
- Yellowed skin or eyes
- Decreased urination
- Rapid heartbeat
What Is Wegovy?
Wegovy is the brand name of the version of semaglutide designed specifically for weight management. In fact, it’s the first medication for weight management to receive FDA approval since 2014. Wegovy is available in higher doses than Ozempic.
To qualify for a Wegovy prescription, you must have a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or higher. For reference, a BMI of 27 is classified as overweight, while the obese classification begins at a BMI of 30. In addition, patients must have at least one of the following: high blood pressure, high cholesterol or Type 2 diabetes. As with Ozempic, patients with a history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 should not take Wegovy.
Wegovy dosages start at 0.25 mg per week, just like Ozempic, but they can go much higher than the 1.0-mg cap for Ozempic. Over a period of 4 to 5 months, your doctor may increase your weekly dose to as much as 2.4 mg. The slow, gradual increase minimizes the likelihood of side effects. Wegovy’s side effects are the same as those for Ozempic. Unlike Ozempic, Wegovy is available in five different strengths, ranging from 0.25 mg to 2.4 mg for each injection pen.
During 16 years of research, Wegovy has proven itself very effective for weight loss and management. Different trials showed that patients taking Wegovy lost 6.2% to 12.4% of their body weight, with obese patients losing at a higher rate. Wegovy also lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke.
How Semaglutide Works
Semaglutide, whether under the brand names Ozempic or Wegovy or as a generic medication, helps the pancreas to release insulin appropriately to bring down high blood sugar levels. The insulin released moves sugar out of the blood and into other organs and tissues to be used as energy. At the same time, the medication keeps your liver from releasing sugar, maintaining balance in your system. In addition, semaglutide slows the rate of gastric emptying, or the movement of food out of your stomach.
Although semaglutide was first investigated for treatment of diabetes, researchers quickly discovered that it was more effective in promoting weight loss than most anti-obesity meds then on the market. Initial results showed that 37% of patients lost 20% of their body weight. This is far higher than the 5% requirement that the FDA imposes before approving a medication for weight loss.
Semaglutide works through reducing patients’ appetite and cravings, helping them feel more full and reducing their energy intake. In addition, those taking semaglutide often find themselves preferring foods other than carbohydrates and fatty foods, which are big culprits in weight gain. The higher doses allowed with Wegovy produce greater weight loss than Ozempic’s lower doses, but with no greater risk.
The Similarities and Differences Between Ozempic and Wegovy
Both Ozempic and Wegovy are versions of semaglutide marketed by Novo Nordisk. Both are safe and effective for weight loss when paired with exercise and healthy eating. Even though they contain the same active ingredient, the approval requirements for each medication limits the purposes they can be used for.
Both medications are delivered via prefilled, single-dose pen injectors to be administered by the patient. In both cases, dosages start at 0.25 mg per week and can be increased slowly over several weeks. There are some slight differences between the two medications, however.
Where Ozempic is specifically designed for treatment of Type 2 diabetes, Wegovy is designed for the treatment of obesity and weight loss. Ozempic, which was first approved in 2017, is designed for use by adults with Type 2 diabetes, helping to improve their glycemic control and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Wegovy is intended for use by obese or overweight patients who also have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or Type 2 diabetes. It was initially approved for use in 2021.
Ozempic is available in 1 mg and 4 mg injection pens, with dosages ranging from 0.25 mg to 1 mg per week. Wegovy, on the other hand, is available in injection pens containing 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 1.7 mg or 2.4 mg.
Both medications can help people lose weight, and both require commitment to changes in diet and exercise. Some people may lose more weight with Wegovy because of the higher dosages. Patients typically reach maximum effectiveness for Ozempic in 12 weeks and for Wegovy in 21 weeks.
Splitting the Difference: Semaglutide for Weight Loss
Semaglutide, no matter what you call it, clearly holds incredible promise for those whose bodies need a little extra help losing that stubborn weight. However, the brand name medications Ozempic and Wegovy aren’t particularly affordable for everyone.
Ozempic typically costs about $800 per month. Because it’s a treatment for diabetes, Medicare will cover Ozempic in most cases, and most private insurance plans cover it as well. Your co-pay, however, may still be significant.
If you’re looking to take semaglutide for weight loss, though, you may not be as lucky. Very few health insurance plans cover weight management medications — and Medicare does not cover them at all. On top of that, because the dosages are higher for Wegovy, the costs are also higher, with a month’s supply of Wegovy costing more than $1,500 per month in some cases.
At Hormonally Balanced, we’re prepared to offer a different solution. We can offer you generic semaglutide for weight management, cutting the price point by about half. That moves this highly effective solution into the realm of possibility for far more people, for whom the brand name options may be out of reach. Remember, Ozempic and Wegovy are essentially just fancy names for semaglutide. When you come to us, you receive the same medication, just with a different name.
Semaglutide is safe for patients of any age and ethnicity, and it’s effective across a wide range of BMI measurements. It’s the most effective weight loss medication on the market, with success rates that are near those for the far riskier, far more expensive and far less available option of bariatric surgery.
We care about our patients, and we want to help you reach optimal health. For many people, that means losing some unwanted weight. At Hormonally Balanced, we believe in using everything that modern medicine offers to help move you toward health and well-being, and we’re excited about the safe and effective treatment that semaglutide is providing for so many people. And we also believe in providing health care at a price that most people can afford — so we look for ways to cut our patients’ costs without cutting back on quality of care. That’s what we’re doing in making generic semaglutide available to our patients.
Contact us today to see whether this effective weight loss medication is the right choice for you — and learn how we can help you to save money through the entire process.