Ozempic and Wegovy are non-insulin treatments used to manage type-2 diabetes in adult patients. A patient may take one brand or the other as a once-weekly injection. Both medications’ main ingredient, semaglutide, is classified as a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonist. Semaglutide’s effectiveness for adults with type-2 diabetes is attributed to its ability to mimic the naturally-occurring GLP-1 hormone produced by the body’s intestines when we eat food. 

Both semaglutide medications work in three ways for people with type-2 diabetes: to control appetite, to control blood sugar, and to improve intestinal movement. These medications, manufactured by NovoNordisk, have also been shown to target weight loss and improve cardiovascular disease for people with type-2 diabetes.

The Difference Between Ozempic and Wegovy

NovoNordisk produces the same medication under two brand names because the effects differ based on the dosages

  • Ozempic helps prevent major cardiovascular events in adults with type-2 diabetes, and may be prescribed up to a dose of 2 mg. per pen.
  • Wegovy is prescribed to reach a higher maintenance dose, 2.4 mg. per pen. Wegovy may be prescribed to adults with type-2 diabetes to manage chronic obesity or overweight conditions and who also have at least one weight-related medical problem.

Ozempic vs Wegovy

MedicationManaging Type-2 DiabetesDosing Increases Over Time From (initial dose) – To (maintenance dose)
Ozempichelps prevent major cardiovascular events0.25 mg – 2.0 mg
Wegovyhelps manage obesity or overweight conditions who also have a weight-related medical problem0.25 mg – 2.4 mg

It is important to note that although semaglutide isn’t insulin, it may be prescribed to improve weight loss and insulin resistance in people with type-1 diabetes.

Other Benefits

GLP-1 receptor agonists have been found to offer other benefits for adults with type-2 diabetes. These include positive effects on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and beta-cell function.

Ozempic was FDA approved in 2017. A large-scale study found that when used in addition to exercise and diet, Ozempic helped adults with type-2 diabetes control not just appetite, but also blood sugar and cholesterol levels, blood pressure, beta-cell function, and intestinal movement. The GLP-1 receptor agonist drug can also control blood glucose levels. 

Wegovy was FDA-approved in 2021 as a management drug for those with chronic weight problems. A healthcare provider will focus on a patient’s initial body mass index (BMI) that ranges 30 kg/m2 (obese) or 27 kg/m2 (overweight) combined with at least one other weight-related comorbid condition, such as type-2 diabetes, hypertension, or dyslipidemia (abnormal cholesterol). 

How to Use

Both medications are injected into fatty tissue using a prefilled pen.

Injection Process and Timing for Ozempic and Wegovy

Both medications are injected in the same manner. A prefilled pen is used to inject the medication just under the skin where patients’ fatty tissue is found. The best sites are the abdomen, the upper arm, and the thigh, where the medication is absorbed gradually. Injecting into a vein or into muscle may hurt, and will cause the body to absorb the medication too fast. Also important, be certain to rotate injection sites among the body’s fatty tissue regions. 

Ozempic and Wegovy should be administered once weekly, on the same weekday, but can be administered any time of day, with/without meals. The day for weekly administration can be changed as long as the time between two doses is at least 2 days (>48 hours). 

Missed doses can happen. Please refer to instructions that accompany your medication to learn how to accommodate missed doses.

Comparing NovoNordisk’s Two Semaglutide Medications

Brand NameOzempic Wegovy
Generic nameSemaglutideSemaglutide
Dosage form and strengthInjection – pre-filled, single-dose pen delivering doses of

  • 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1. mg or 2. mg per injection

Dose is increased slowly up to a maximum of 1mg each week

Injection – pre-filled, single-dose pen delivering doses of 

  • 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1.7mg, or 2.4 mg per injection

Dose is increased slowly until a maintenance dose of 2.4mg weekly is reached

UsesAdd-on to diet and exercise to improve glycemic control in adults with type-2 diabetes

To reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in adults with type-2 diabetes and established cardiovascular disease

An add-on to a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management in adults with an initial body mass index (BMI) of:

  • 30kg/m2 or greater (obesity) or
  • 27 kg/m2 or greater (overweight) with the presence of at least one weight-related comorbid condition such as high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes and dyslipidemia
USDA approval20172021

Weight Loss and Semaglutide

Weight loss with Ozempic is minimal compared to Wegovy’s ability to help with long-term weight loss.

Weight loss with the higher semaglutide dose in Wegovy occurs because the GLP-1 agonists signal a patient’s brain to eat and drink less. At the same time, Wegovy produces a prolonged and satisfying feeling of fullness by slowing the rate that food is emptied from the stomach. Moreover, Wegovy shapes peoples’ food preferences by minimizing cravings for high-fat foods.

Weight Loss and Lifestyle

The medications do not indicate patients must reduce caloric intake. Rather, patients are encouraged to make healthy meal and snack choices. Instead of carbohydrates, patients should choose healthy proteins and fats. The strategy emphasizes healthy eating, exercise and proper sleep that promotes overall well-being instead of caloric restrictions. In other words, patients can enjoy improved health through a combination of medication, healthier eating, and exercise. Based on clinical trials, weight loss averaged 6% for those taking Ozempic for one year. For Wegovy, the average weight loss after 68 weeks was almost 16%. Note that all study subjects were encouraged to exercise and follow healthy food and lifestyle choices.

Is it true that patients can find increased health with medication?

Yes, and no. Many people with or without type-2 diabetes can and do experience challenges associated with maintaining such healthful effects. Long-term success is typically possible when patients hold themselves accountable to eat and exercise properly. 

Over time, it’s usually helpful to keep a journal, or work with a coach who inspires you to stay on track. 

Limitations of use for Ozempic

  • Ozempic has not been studied in patients with a history of pancreatitis 
  • Ozempic is not indicated for use in patients with type-1 diabetes

Limitations of use for Wegovy

  • Wegovy should not be used in combination with other
    semaglutide-containing products or any other GLP-1 receptor agonist 
  • The safety and efficacy of combining Wegovy with other products for weight-loss has not been established
  • Wegovy has not been studied in patients with a history of pancreatitis 

Common Side Effects with Ozempic and Wegovy

Compared to a placebo, common side effects of both drugs include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dyspepsia, abdominal distension, eructation
  • Fatigue
  • Flatulence, gastroenteritis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (or heartburn)
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in patients with type-2 diabetes

More serious side effects of Ozempic and Wegovy may occur in rare instances. A patient’s health provider will assess and discuss the benefits of using semaglutide medications against the risk of side effects. It is important to report any negative side effects or reactions to your doctor.