Ozempic alternatives: 7 other medications to know about

Ozempic may seem synonymous with weight-loss medication, but it isn’t even FDA-approved for weight loss. The good news? There are plenty of other medications that *are* — and work just as well, if not better. Here’s the rundown on your options.
Published June 5, 2024
Ozempic AlternativesOzempic Alternatives

Kleenex®. Velcro®. Tupperware®. Ozempic. They’re all brand names that have become the word people use to describe an entire category of goods (tissues, hook-and-loop fasteners, food storage containers, weight-loss meds).

But Ozempic isn’t even FDA-approved for weight-loss — it’s approved for type 2 diabetes treatment. There are, however, other drugs that perform similarly and were specifically developed and FDA-approved for weight loss, such Wegovy (the same active ingredient as Ozempic, semaglutide), Saxenda (liraglutide), and Zepbound (tirzepatide).

Below, read more about the other options for weight loss, as well as alternatives to Ozempic for treating type 2 diabetes. You’ll see how they compare, who they’re best for, and how to talk to your healthcare provider about them.

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic (semaglutide) is a medication that’s been FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes. It’s a GLP-1 receptor agonist, which means it mimics the GLP-1 hormone in your body. GLP-1 (or glucagon-like peptide-1) is released when you eat food, signaling your pancreas to produce more insulin, regulating the amount of sugar your liver makes, and slowing down digestion, all of which control blood sugar.

Along with regulating your blood sugar, these medications work on receptors in the gut and brain to reduce your appetite and slow gastric emptying, helping you feel fuller for longer. They also appear to have an effect on food noise, or the constant, intrusive thoughts about food that are disruptive to daily life. This decreases how much you eat and helps you lose weight.

When you are first prescribed Ozempic (you give yourself an injection once a week), your dose is 0.25mg weekly. After four weeks, the dose increases to 0.5mg, then can go up to 1.0mg and 2.0mg (the maximum dose) if needed. Dosage increases will be determined by your clinician.

Common side effects of Ozempic

You’re more likely to experience side effects when starting on Ozempic or going up a dose. The most common ones to know about are, in alphabetical order:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Injection site redness, swelling, or itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

To help reduce the risk of side effects, your provider will increase your dosage slowly and monitor how you’re feeling. There are also things you can do in the moment to feel better, like taking anti-nausea medication. That said, if side effects are getting in the way of your ability to eat or are severe, talk to your provider. They may change your dose or recommend a different medication. A full list of side effects can be found on the Ozempic website.

3 alternatives to Ozempic for weight loss

Ozempic is FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes, so while it can lead to weight loss in addition to helping manage blood sugar, there are other medications that are specifically approved to treat obesity. Here are your options:

  • Saxenda (liraglutide) Saxenda was approved by the FDA to treat chronic weight management in 2014. It’s given via a daily injection with a starting dose of 0.6mg during the first week. Your doctor may increase your daily dose by 0.6mg each week until, by week five, you’re taking the maximum dose of 3.0mg daily. In a trial, people lost an average of 8.4% of their body weight in a year on the maximum dose.
  • Wegovy (semaglutide) Wegovy is the same medication as Ozempic and was FDA-approved for chronic weight management in 2021. It’s even sometimes referred to as “the new Ozempic.” For dosing, you’ll start off on a 0.25mg injection per week, then your doctor may increase every month until you reach 1.7mg or 2.4mg per week. On average, people lost an average of 15% of their weight in 68 weeks on the 2.4mg dose.
  • Zepbound (tirzepatide) FDA-approved for chronic weight management in 2023, Zepbound is a once-weekly injection that’s available in a 2.5mg, 5mg, 10mg, 12.5mg, and 15mg dosage. Zepbound is a combination of GLP-1 and GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide), with research showing people lost an average of 20.9% of their weight in 72 weeks on the highest dose.

Whichever weight-loss medication you choose, one of the best things you can do is to pair it with healthy habits. “We see the greatest success when people marry lifestyle and a therapeutic agent like medication,” says Narang. “The longer you sustain that, the more likely you’ll have long-term weight loss.”

These lifestyle factors, like a nutritious diet and regular exercise, enhance your overall weight health, which is the impact your weight has on your health and quality of life. These benefits include reducing your risk of chronic disease and improving your mood and quality of life. To help you make these kinds of habits stick, try a lifestyle program like WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program, which is designed specifically to help people who are taking GLP-1s, like Mounjaro or Zepbound, meet nutrition and activity goals.

What about FDA-approved weight-loss pills?

They may not be as clinically effective as the newer GLP-1s, but don’t write off older FDA-approved oral medication options for weight loss, says Narang. “Speak with someone who is well-versed in these approved drugs who can help you make an evidence-based decision in terms of what might work best for you—because these are not one-size-fits-all,” Narang says. Some options include:

  • Phentermine (Adipex, Suprenza)
  • Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia)
  • Naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave)
  • Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)

These medications result in less weight loss than GLP-1s because they don’t have the same effect on slowing down gastric emptying. They also offer no additional metabolic health benefits, such as blood sugar regulation, says Dr. Angela Fitch, M.D., president of the Obesity Medicine Association. That said, certain people may be candidates for these older drugs, says Fitch, such as those who need to lose less weight, who don’t respond to GLP-1s, or who can’t afford the pricier options.

4 alternatives to Ozempic for type 2 diabetes

Ozempic isn’t the only GLP-1 for treating diabetes. Here are the other GLP-1 medications that can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar, in order of when they were approved by the FDA.

  • Victoza (liraglutide) FDA-approved in 2010 to treat type 2 diabetes, Victoza, which is the same drug as Saxenda, is given as a daily injection. The starting dose is 0.6mg daily for one week, which can be increased up to 1.2mg daily for the second week. If you need more blood sugar control, your provider may move you up to the maximum 1.8mg daily dose starting at week three. Research shows that liraglutide can also reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke for those who have type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • Trulicity (dulaglutide) Trulicity, which was approved in 2014 to treat type 2 diabetes, is offered as a once-weekly injection with four available dosages: 0.75mg, 1.5mg, 3.0mg, and 4.5mg. In addition to lowering blood sugar, Trulicity also reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke for people who have type 2 diabetes.
  • Rybelsus (semaglutide) This is the same active ingredient as Ozempic, but is an oral medication for type 2 diabetes that was approved by the FDA in 2019. The fact that you can take this medication without an injection can be a big draw for some people. It is available in 7mg or 14mg doses.
  • Mounjaro (tirzepatide) Mounjaro, which is the same active ingredient as Zepbound, lowers blood sugar by improving insulin secretion and sensitivity. FDA-approved in 2022 to treat type 2 diabetes, it’s a weekly injection that starts at a 2.5mg dose for four weeks. The dose is can then be increased to 5.0mg for at least another four weeks. After that, there are four additional doses your provider can prescribe, if needed: 7.5mg, 10mg, 12.5mg, and 15mg. In addition to blood sugar benefits, research has found it also improves cholesterol and lowers blood pressure.

How do I switch from Ozempic to another medication?

Just because you started on one medication doesn’t mean you can’t switch to another — whether it’s because of a shortage, severe side effects, or another reason. “In our patient population with diabetes, this has certainly happened for different reasons, such as coverage, availability, or because they may tolerate one medication better than another,” says Narang.

If you were prescribed Ozempic and want to switch to a different medication, talk to your provider. If they agree it’s a good move for you, they will be able to determine the right dose to start you on so that the switch goes as smoothly as possible. Of course, insurance coverage also needs to be taken into account, so check which medications are covered before deciding to make a change.

The bottom line

While Ozempic is an effective medication for type 2 diabetes, it’s not the only option available to you. And for weight loss, there are other medications that are actually approved for that purpose. If you want to switch because you can’t get Ozempic due to a shortage, your insurance no longer covers it, or you think another medication might be a better fit, talk to your healthcare provider. They will be able to go over all of the pros and cons of the different options and help you make an informed decision.


Ozempic is an injectable GLP-1 medication that improves blood sugar control to treat type 2 diabetes. It’s not being replaced by anything, but there are other GLP-1 drugs on the market that work in a similar way on blood sugar, including Trulicity, Victoza, and Mounjaro.

Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Ozempic, says they are producing as much product as they can but are unable to keep up with the demand. As a result, you might have a hard time filling your prescription. While Novo Nordisk announced that they are ramping up production in 2024, there is no telling when the shortage will be over.

Ozempic (semaglutide) is not FDA-approved to treat weight loss, but another semaglutide medication, Wegovy, is. In addition to Wegovy, there are other GLP-1s such as Saxenda and Zepbound, as well as older oral medications like Qsymia. Which medication is cheaper for you depends on both insurance coverage and which drug you choose, with older oral medications usually costing less.

WeightWatchers doesn’t sell or prescribe any medications to treat type 2 diabetes. If you need help managing type 2 diabetes, talk with your healthcare provider. If you are interested in a weight-loss medication, you can talk to a board-certified doctor through WeightWatchers Clinic about your options, if eligible.

Ozempic is FDA-approved for the treatment of people with type 2 diabetes. That means that the FDA has determined that it is safe and effective for type 2 diabetes, but there is a version of semaglutide approved for weight management: Wegovy.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be regarded as a substitute for guidance from your healthcare provider.