Wegovy vs. Ozempic: Differences and Which Is Better

The difference between Wegovy and Ozempic – the same but different. What are the side effects and possible benefits, plus which is better?

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
April 23, 2024
February 15, 2024
— Updated:

Table of Contents

Wegovy, Ozempic, and semaglutide are all words that have become popular in the mainstream media over the past two years. From A-list celebrities to Real Housewives, it seems like the list of people using the weight loss drug is a mile long. But the drug was not created for small amounts of weight loss for vanity’s sake. 

When it comes to managing type 2 diabetes and obesity, medications like Wegovy, Ozempic, and other similar drugs (Mounjaro, Zepbound) have gained popularity as effective treatment options. 

Wegovy and Ozempic contain semaglutide, a compound known for its ability to regulate blood sugar levels and assist in weight management. While they share this key ingredient, Wegovy and Ozempic are slightly different. In this article, we'll discuss the differences between these two medications and explore which might be more suitable based on an individual’s needs.

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Ozempic vs. Wegovy: Uses

Ozempic and Wegovy are pharmaceutical GLP-1 receptor agonists designed to address different healthcare needs, each with its own unique set of applications and benefits. Both drugs are manufactured by Novo Nordisk and contain the active ingredient semaglutide. They are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for different uses. 

Ozempic

This drug primarily serves as a treatment for people who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Its main function is to help regulate blood sugar levels in these individuals. It is sometimes prescribed off-label for chronic weight management. 

By mimicking the action of a naturally occurring hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), Ozempic helps stimulate insulin production and reduce glucose production in the liver, thereby aiding in managing blood sugar levels. 

Type 2 diabetes is associated with an increased risk of heart attack. In addition to its role in diabetes management, Ozempic offers an additional benefit in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with type 2 diabetes. This dual action makes it a valuable tool in addressing the immediate symptoms and long-term complications associated with diabetes. 

Wegovy

Wegovy is one of several weight loss medications on the market. Other weight loss medications include Zepbound and Mounjaro, which are brand names of the medication tirzepatide.

Wegovy is FDA-approved to be used by people who are obese or overweight. Those with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater are eligible under this approval, along with those with a BMI of 27 or greater with comorbid weight-related conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.

Wegovy is specifically tailored for people struggling to lose weight with conventional methods. Unlike Ozempic, which primarily targets blood sugar regulation, Wegovy's primary objective is to assist individuals in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. This medication is particularly beneficial for individuals who have been unsuccessful in achieving weight loss through diet and exercise alone. 

Like Ozempic, Wegovy does affect blood sugar regulation through the same mechanism of action, but it has also been shown to reduce food cravings. Delayed gastric emptying makes the user feel full for longer and unable to eat as much. This, along with decreased cravings, helps to reduce calorie intake, resulting in weight loss. 

Although controversial, Wegovy is approved by the FDA for use in adolescents as a tool for combating obesity at an early age, potentially reducing the risk of obesity-related health complications later in life. However, the long-term side effects of the drug are unknown, and the effects it may have on an adolescent’s growth and development have yet to be determined. 

Wegovy addresses one aspect of health, offering additional support for people who have struggled to lose weight or improve metabolic health conditions through changes to eating habits and physical activity. Although the drug has been shown to be effective at promoting weight loss, results are best maintained when the drug is accompanied by sustainable lifestyle changes. 

Wegovy vs Ozempic: Dosage

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While the dosing of semaglutide in Wegovy and Ozempic are different, they both start with a small dose and gradually increase over time. The dose is administered through a once-weekly subcutaneous injection. 

Wegovy is often prescribed in higher doses compared to Ozempic. These doses are gradually increased over a period of several months until a maintenance dose is reached. Dosing should be directed by medical advice from your doctor.

  Ozempic Wegovy
Strengths • 2 mg/1.5 mL
• 2 mg/3 mL
• 4 mg/3 mL
• 8 mg/3 mL
• 0.25 mg/0.5 mL
• 0.5 mg/0.5 mL
• 1 mg/0.5 mL
• 1.7 mg/0.75 mL
• 2.4 mg/0.75 mL
Dose • weeks 1–4: 0.25 mg
• weeks 5–8: 0.5 mg
• weeks 9–12 (if needed): 1 mg
• week 13 and after (if needed): 2 mg
• weeks 1–4: 0.25 mg
• weeks 5–8: 0.5 mg
• weeks 9–12: 1 mg
• weeks 13–16: 1.7 mg
• week 17 and after: 1.7 mg or 2.4 mg

Ozempic vs Wegovy: Cost

Wegovy and Ozempic are both known for their high out-of-pocket cost. Only name-brand medications are available at this time with no generic versions on the market. 

These medications may be covered differently under your insurance plan. Some plans may not cover Wegovy for weight management, but the same plan may cover Ozempic for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. If you’re considering using Ozempic or Wegovy, it’s best to check with your plan ahead of time for specific coverage details.

If you have commercial insurance, you may be able to save on your prescription with a savings card from the manufacturer. That means you could pay as little as $25 for Wegovy and as little as $25 for Ozempic. Patient assistance programs are also available for these medications.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href="ozempic">Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro: What You Need To Know</a>.</p>

Side Effects of Wegovy vs. Ozempic

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Ozempic and Wegovy both contain semaglutide. These drugs may have the same side effects but to a different degree. You may also have different side effects as a result of taking one drug over the other. 

Side effects may be more common with Wegovy because it is typically prescribed at a dose slightly higher than Ozempic. For easy comparison, common side effects that were listed in clinical trials are found in the tables below. 

Mild Side Effects

Some of these mild side effects listed below are uncommon, but it is possible that you may experience them.

Mild Side Effects Ozempic Wegovy
nausea
vomiting
diarrhea
abdominal pain or bloating
constipation
headache  
fatigue
indigestion
dizziness
gas or burping
mild allergic reaction

These side effects are often temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. Side effects usually decrease or subside as your body adjusts to the medication. If your side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, talk with your healthcare provider about adjusting your treatment protocol.

Serious Side Effects

The table below illustrates the potentially serious side effects of Ozempic and Wegovy.

Serious Side Effects Ozempic Wegovy
risk of thyroid cancer
pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
gallbladder disease
acute (sudden) kidney failure
increased heart rate  
severe allergic reaction

Call your doctor immediately if you have serious side effects while using Ozempic or Wegovy. Call 911 or seek medical attention at your local emergency facility if you believe you're having a medical emergency. 

Which Is Better: Ozempic or Wegovy?

Deciding whether Ozempic or Wegovy depends entirely on the needs and health of the individual, plus the goals of treatment. Both medications offer similar benefits, so consulting with a healthcare professional is the best way to make an informed choice that aligns with your health goals.

If you have type 2 diabetes and your primary goal is to manage your blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, Ozempic is probably a better choice.

If you are struggling to lose weight and have chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes, you may benefit from Wegovy. 

A comprehensive health assessment with your primary care doctor or endocrinologist is the best way to determine which medication better suits your needs. 

Learn More About How to Improve Blood Sugar Health With Signos’ Expert Advice

Along with proper diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle choices, medications can play a significant role in managing diabetes, obesity, and blood sugar health. 

Signos CGM empowers you to improve your health by keeping track of your diet, exercise, sleep habits, and blood sugar. Knowledge is power, and a CGM can give you specific information about how your habits affect your health. 

Signos has a team of health experts who compile evidence-based nutrition information to help you improve your health and wellness. Check out the resources here.

Find out if Signos is a good fit for you by taking a quick quiz.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="saxenda-vs-wegovy">Saxenda vs Wegovy: What Is The Difference?</a>.</p>

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References

  1. ElSayed NA, et al. (2023). 9. Pharmacologic approaches to glycemic treatment: Standards of medical care in diabetes—2023).
    https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/46/Supplement_1/S140/148057/9-Pharmacologic-Approaches-to-Glycemic-Treatment
  2. Grunvald E, et al. (2022). AGA clinical practice guideline on pharmacological interventions for adults with obesity.
    https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(22)01026-5/fulltext?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fpubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov%2F
  3. Ozempic (semaglutide) injection, for subcutaneous use. (2022).
    https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2022/209637s012lbl.pdf
  4. Wegovy (semaglutide) injection, for subcutaneous use. (2023).
    https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2023/215256s007lbl.pdf

About the author

Kristen Carli is the owner of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness. She graduated from University of Arizona with a BA in psychology and then received a BS in dietetics from Arizona State University.

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