Wegovy vs. Ozempic

There are two popular weight loss drugs on the market — but they’re not the same.

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Wegovy and Ozempic are brand names for semaglutide. Ozempic was approved in 2017 for medical use in the treatment of diabetes. In 2021, Wegovy was approved for use in weight management. It’s the same drug, so what’s the difference?

Wegovy vs. Ozempic

Semaglutide initially was developed to treat Type 2 diabetes in adults and marketed under the brand name Ozempic. Used along with diet and exercise, the drug improves glycemic control in adults with Type 2 diabetes. The injectable form of semaglutide is given once a week and can be administered at home by the patient with an injection pen, similar to an EpiPen.

“Researchers began to see other effects of the drug, such as reduced hunger and cravings and weight loss,” said Kelley M. McIntyre, M.D., internal medicine physician with Norton Weight Management Services.

In 2021, the U.S, Food and Drug Administration approved semaglutide to be used for weight loss. It is marketed under the brand name Wegovy.

What’s the difference between Wegovy and Ozempic?

Wegovy is specifically indicated for the treatment of overweight and obesity. Ozempic is indicated for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. Both have been shown to be safe and effective for weight loss when used in combination with lifestyle changes (including healthy food choices and exercise). Most insurance companies will cover Ozempic only for a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

“It boils down to the dosage,” Dr. McIntyre said. “Wegovy is available in slightly higher doses: 0.25 milligram (mg), 0.5 mg, 1.0 mg, 1.7 mg and 2.4 mg pens. Ozempic is available in 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg,1.0 mg and 2.0 mg pens.” 

Both medications typically are started at the same 0.25 mg weekly dose and then gradually increased over the course of several months. With Wegovy, patients ramp up to a higher sustained dose of semaglutide of 2.4 mg per week. 

Who should take Wegovy and Ozempic?

You might be a candidate for Wegovy if you meet these criteria:

  • Your BMI (body mass index) categorizes you as obese (greater than or equal to BMI 30) or overweight (greater than or equal to BMI 27).
  • You have certain weight-related medical conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) or high cholesterol.

The drug is to be used for long-term weight management in conjunction with a reduced-calorie meal plan and increased physical activity.

You might be a candidate for Ozempic if you meet these criteria:

  • You have Type 2 diabetes.
  • Your A1C level is uncontrolled with other interventions.
  • You have cardiovascular disease or are at a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  • You have kidney disease or heart failure.

“These are revolutionary drugs, and your doctor can help you decide the best way to use them,” Dr. McIntyre said.

It is important to remember that your health care provider may not know your insurance coverage for these medications. Unfortunately, coverage for Wegovy is dependent on the employer or insurance plan, and many patients do not have coverage. These medications have high out-of-pocket costs. Patients should check with their insurance company to learn more about their coverage. 

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