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What’s the real difference between Wegovy and Ozempic?

They’re both the GLP-1 drug semaglutide. And they’ve both been shown to produce significant weight loss. So, are Wegovy and Ozempic essentially just different names for the same medication? Although they are very similar, there are key differences to know
Published July 11, 2023 | Updated May 8, 2024
Investigating medicationInvestigating medication

In this article:

1/ Wegovy and Ozempic similarities

2/ Wegovy and Ozempic differences

3/ Which is better for weight loss?

4/ Side effects

5/ The bottom line

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.

Like a set of identical twins, Wegovy and Ozempic are almost indistinguishable. They have the same active ingredient (a medication called semaglutide) and they even look and act a lot alike. But these two medications aren’t completely interchangeable. And knowing the nuances can make you more informed and prepared for discussions with your healthcare provider. Let’s break it all down.

How are Wegovy and Ozempic the same?

They’re made by the same company, Novo Nordisk, and they are the same drug, semaglutide, which is a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). Like other GLP-1s, Wegovy and Ozempic work by increasing insulin production, reducing appetite, and delaying gastric emptying—all of which help manage blood glucose levels and promote feelings of fullness.

These benefits are why semaglutide was originally studied and approved for type 2 diabetes treatment. But it was soon discovered that the drug also helps with weight loss. “When people take Ozempic or Wegovy, their body receives signals that they’re full, decreasing their appetite, and slowing gastric emptying, helping them feel fuller for longer,” says Michelle Cardel, PhD, RD, the senior director of global clinical research and nutrition at WeightWatchers. The result: People taking it typically eat fewer calories and lose weight. One study in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that after 68 weeks of taking semaglutide and following a healthy lifestyle plan, participants lost an average of almost 15% of their body weight after 68 weeks.

4 key differences between Wegovy and Ozempic

While they are the same drug and do the same thing in the body, there are some key differences between Wegovy and Ozempic.

  1. They’re approved by the FDA for different uses. Ozempic, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017, is approved to treat type 2 diabetes. Wegovy, on the other hand, was approved in 2021 for chronic weight management in people who have a BMI of 30 or higher or a BMI of 27 and higher with a weight-related health condition (high blood pressure, for example).

  2. They are approved for different ages. Ozempic is only approved for use by adults 18 and older but Wegovy is approved for use for people as young as 12 who qualify based on their weight.

  3. They come in different doses. Wegovy doses range from .25mg up to 2.4mg while Ozempic is available in doses from .5mg to 2.0mg. For both medications, patients generally start on the lowest dose “so their provider can monitor and adjust dosing based on tolerance, side effects, and efficacy,” says Dr. Amanda Velazquez, M.D., director of obesity medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Once someone hits their maximum dose, that’s the one they’ll likely stay at for the long-term, says Velazquez. It should be noted, however, that dosage is dependent upon the individual and determined via in-depth discussions between a patient and their healthcare provider.

  4. They’re administered with different types of injection pens. Wegovy comes in single-use injection pens, but Ozempic injection pens can be used more than once.

Is Ozempic as good as Wegovy for weight loss?

There’s a reason Wegovy is the medication approved for chronic weight management: Its higher maximum dose can lead to greater weight loss. “The highest available dose of Ozempic is 2.0mg, whereas Wegovy’s highest dose is 2.4mg,” explains Velazquez. “As a result, Wegovy may lead to slightly greater weight loss given the higher dose.” One study in JAMA Network found that after three months, people taking a 2.4 mg dose of semaglutide lost an average of 6.9% of their body weight, while those taking a lower dose of 1.7 mg lost an average of 5.1% of their body weight.

One thing that holds true for people taking either Ozempic for type 2 diabetes or Wegovy for weight loss: Even with medications, it is critical to complement them with healthy eating habits, more physical activity, a good sleep routine, and stress management. Because people taking semaglutide have a decreased appetite, choosing nutrient-packed foods when they do eat becomes even more important for their overall health. This is where a lifestyle program like WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program can help. It can keep you focused on the healthy habits that will have you feeling your best while on a GLP-1 to lose weight.

Wegovy and Ozempic side effects

Whether you take Ozempic for type 2 diabetes or Wegovy for weight loss, the side effects are the same, and most likely to be gastrointestinal. The most common side effects may include (in order of prevalence):

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain

Research indicates that fewer people report side effects on Ozempic compared to Wegovy, perhaps because Ozempic maxes out at a lower dose. While semaglutide’s side effects are often mild and may go away as the body adjusts to the medication, people experiencing them should let their healthcare provider know.

Wegovy and Ozempic may also cause more serious side effects, although they are very rare. These include pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, paracentesis (stomach paralysis), and kidney injuries. They might also increase your risk for low blood sugar if you’re taking other medications besides Ozempic to control your blood sugar, such as insulin. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant or if you or anyone in your family has a history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, the FDA does not recommend taking this medication. A full list of side effects can be found on the Ozempic and Wegovy sites.

The bottom line

In combination with a healthy lifestyle program, semaglutide can be a helpful way to help manage your blood sugar, achieve clinically meaningful weight loss, and, importantly, maintain the weight loss. It’s currently found in two prescription medications, the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy, which differ in a few ways. While Ozempic is approved for type 2 diabetes and comes in a maximum dose of 2.0mg, Wegovy is approved for chronic weight management for certain people and comes in a maximum dose of 2.4mg. Since Wegovy has a higher dose of semaglutide than Ozempic, it may lead to slightly greater weight loss.