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Posted by James Ryan

Comparing Ozempic with other weight loss medications 

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7 minute read

Did you know that nearly 60% of adults trying to lose weight have expressed interest in taking a prescription weight loss drug? This interest is even higher among those aiming to lose 9 kilogrammes or more [1].


Understanding the different options for weight loss medications is crucial for anyone looking to manage their weight effectively. For additional information on nutrition, see our blog post on 8 facts about nutrition and hydration and for more insights check out this comprehensive guide to safe and sustainable weight loss.

Let's compare Ozempic with other popular weight loss medications, offering insights into their uses, benefits, side effects, and costs.

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic, a brand name for semaglutide, is primarily used to treat type 2 diabetes. Ozempic works by mimicking the hormone GLP-1. This increases insulin release, decreases glucagon release, and slows gastric emptying, which reduces appetite and calorie intake. Currently, Ozempic is only prescribed in the Republic of Ireland for treating diabetes [2].

Benefits of Ozempic

  • Effective weight loss aid
  • Helps control blood sugar levels
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular events in people with type 2 diabetes [2]

Other popular weight loss medications

There are several other medications commonly used for weight loss. Here are a few notable ones:

Saxenda (liraglutide)

Saxenda is a GLP-1 receptor agonist similar to Ozempic. It is approved specifically for weight management in adults with obesity or overweight individuals with weight-related conditions [3].

Saxenda works by activating receptors in the brain that reduce hunger and slows gastric emptying, helping you feel full longer. It also helps control blood sugar levels and may reduce the motivation to eat for pleasure.

You might see modest weight loss of 2-4% in the first 2-4 weeks. More significant weight loss, at least 5%, is typically seen after 8 weeks at the full 3.0 mg dose. Clinical trials show an average weight loss of about 9% of initial body weight (around 9.5 kg) after one year. Results vary: 62% of users lose at least 5%, and 34% lose at least 10% when combined with diet and exercise [14].

It can take up to 12 weeks to see if Saxenda is effective. If less than 4-5% weight loss is achieved by then, discontinuation is recommended. A 4-week dose escalation period is needed before reaching the full dose, which may delay initial weight loss. Significant results are often seen after 2-3 months on the full dose combined with lifestyle changes [15].

Benefits:

  • Proven to help with significant weight loss
  • Improved metabolic health [3]

Wegovy (semaglutide)

Wegovy essentially contains the same active ingredient as Ozempic but at a higher dose. It is specifically approved for chronic weight management. Currently, Wegovy is not prescribed in the Republic of Ireland [4].

Benefits:

  • Higher dose may lead to more significant weight loss compared to Ozempic [4]

Contrave (naltrexone/bupropion)

Contrave is a combination of two drugs: naltrexone (used to treat addiction) and bupropion (an antidepressant and smoking cessation aid) [5].

Benefits:

  • Targets the brain’s reward system to help reduce food cravings and control appetite [5]

Phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia)

Qsymia combines an appetite suppressant (phentermine) with a medication for epilepsy/migraine (topiramate) [6].

Benefits:

  • Effective for weight loss, particularly in the first few months of treatment [6]

Current GLP-1 medications available in the Republic of Ireland

There are several GLP-1 medications approved for use, including the following:

  • Dulaglutide - with the brand name Trulicity [7]
  • Exenatide - with the brand name Byetta or Bydureon [8]
  • Liraglutide - with the brand name Saxenda (for weight loss) or Victoza [3]
  • Lixisenatide - with the brand name Lyxumia [9]
  • Semaglutide - with the brand name Wegovy (for weight loss), Ozempic, or Rybelsus (for T2DM) [2][4][10]
  • Tirzepatide – with the brand name mounjaro [11]

These medications are available in both injectable (daily or weekly) and tablet forms, with the injectable forms generally being more effective for weight loss. For additional information on nutrition, see our blog post on 8 facts about nutrition and hydration.

In the Republic of Ireland, there are currently four GLP-1 medications available for T2DM: dulaglutide, exenatide, liraglutide, and semaglutide. However, Saxenda is the only GLP-1 medication available for weight loss [8].

Comparing effectiveness

When comparing the effectiveness of these medications, it’s important to consider both the weight loss results and the side effects profile.

Ozempic and Wegovy:

  • Both have shown substantial weight loss in clinical trials, with Wegovy generally providing more significant results due to the higher dose of semaglutide [12].

Saxenda:

  • Also effective, though typically results in slightly less weight loss compared to Wegovy [13].

Contrave and Qsymia:

  • Effective, especially in the early stages of use, but their side effects can be more pronounced [5][6].

Side effects

Each medication comes with its own set of side effects. Here’s a quick overview:

Ozempic:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Potential risk of thyroid c-cell tumours (in animal studies) [2]

Saxenda:

  • Like Ozempic, with gastrointestinal issues being most common
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallbladder problems [3]

Wegovy:

  • Like Ozempic, but more potent side effects due to higher dosage [4]

Contrave:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Increased blood pressure [5]

Qsymia:

  • Tingling in hands and feet
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Potential risk of birth defects [6]

What weight loss drug is more powerful than Ozempic?

Wegovy is more powerful than Ozempic because it contains a higher dose of the same active ingredient, semaglutide. This higher dosage can lead to greater weight loss, but it also comes with an increased risk of side effects [12].

What is comparable to Ozempic for weight loss?

Saxenda and Wegovy are the most comparable to Ozempic. They all belong to the GLP-1 receptor agonist class and have similar mechanisms of action. Saxenda is slightly less potent, while Wegovy offers a higher dose of semaglutide, which can result in more significant weight loss [13].

Which is better, Wegovy or Ozempic?

Wegovy is generally considered more effective for weight loss than Ozempic due to its higher dosage of semaglutide. Clinical trials have shown that patients on Wegovy tend to lose more weight compared to those on Ozempic. However, the higher dose in Wegovy also means potentially more severe side effects [12].

Cost comparison

Dulaglutide (Trulicity)

  • The cost for a package containing 4 pens (1.5mg/0.5ml) is approximately €100 [7].

Exenatide (Byetta, Bydureon)

  • Byetta costs around €100 for a single 5mcg dose pen.
  • Bydureon costs about €100 for a four-dose pen [8].

Liraglutide (Saxenda, Victoza)

  • Saxenda costs approximately €100 for a pen, which typically lasts for about a month.
  • Victoza costs around €170-€200 for a monthly supply [3].

Lixisenatide (Lyxumia)

  • Lyxumia is priced around €140-€150 for a monthly supply [9].

Semaglutide (Wegovy, Ozempic, Rybelsus)

  • Wegovy costs approximately €300 per pen (4 doses).
  • Ozempic is around €240 for a monthly supply.
  • Rybelsus (oral form) is priced similarly to Ozempic [10].

Tirzepatide (Mounjaro)

  • Mounjaro is approximately €250 per pen [11].

The costs provided are approximate and may vary depending on the specific pharmacy, location, and any applicable insurance coverage or discounts. It's advisable to confirm the exact pricing with your pharmacy or healthcare provider [7][8].


How HealthHero can help

HealthHero provides comprehensive support for weight management, including consultations with healthcare professionals who can guide you through selecting the most appropriate weight loss medication. Learn how to keep yourself motivated by visiting our blog on how to keep yourself motivated for weight loss. Visit our weight management hub for more information and support.


Sources
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  2. https://www.ozempic.com/. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  3. https://www.saxenda.com/. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  4. https://www.wegovy.co.uk/hcpresources.html. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  5. https://www.drugs.com/contrave.html. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  6. https://www.drugs.com/qsymia.html. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  7. https://www.trulicity.com/. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  8. https://www.bydureon.com/bydureon-bcise.html. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  9. https://www.lyxumia.com/. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  10. https://www.rybelsus.com/. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  11. https://www.mounjaro.com/. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  12. Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diabetes/ozempic-shows-long-term-benefits-for-blood-sugar-control-and-weight-loss-in-new-study/. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  13. https://sesamecare.com/blog/ozempic-for-weight-loss. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  14. My BMI. https://my-bmi.co.uk/medical-therapy/does-saxenda-work-immediately/. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].
  15. https://webmedpharmacy.co.uk/how-long-will-i-stay-on-saxenda-weight-loss-pens. [Date accessed: June 5, 2024].