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Exploring the differences between Mounjaro vs Ozempic

Understanding medication before you start taking anything is important.

Exploring the Differences Between Mounjaro vs Ozempic | Juniper

In the last couple of years, names like Ozempic and, more recently, Mounjaro have become a topic of conversation in many social circles, medical settings, and in the media.

While you have probably heard of some of these types of drugs — and might even be interested in them yourself — you might not know much about how they actually work.

Understanding medication before you start taking anything is important, but it can be quite complex and confusing — so that's where we come in.

In this article, we will discuss Ozempic and Mounjaro, how they work, what they are approved for, and any potential side effects you might need to know about.

What is Mounjaro?

Mounjaro, also known as tirzepatide, is an injectable medicine that was designed for adults with type 2 diabetes [1]. It is typically prescribed alongside a healthy diet and exercise to help manage or lower blood sugar levels.

It is a glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist.

It has a recommended starting dose of 2.5mg, which can later be increased to 5mg, and the maximum recommended dose is 15mg.

The medication is administered through a once-a-week injection, and can only be purchased by patients after a doctor prescribes it.

How does Mounjaro work?

For people with type 2 diabetes, Mounjaro helps support blood sugar control by activating both glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide and glucogen-like peptide 1 pathways.

These are the 2 primary incretin hormones that are secreted from your intestine when you ingest glucose or nutrients, and stimulate insulin secretion from pancreatic β cells [2].

As well as increasing your insulin release, they also decrease the amount of glucose your liver produces, which means a lower blood glucose level — which is important for those with type 2 diabetes or issues with above-average blood sugar levels.

The medication can also improve insulin sensitivity and lead to a decreased appetite and less food being eaten.

Research into the use of this medication for treating type 2 diabetes found it led to improvement in blood glucose management and weight loss benefits.

While Mounjaro was developed and FDA-approved for diabetes management, it can also aid in significant weight loss, which in turn can reduce other health issues [3].

Obesity is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea, osteoarthritis and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease [4].

Researchers have examined tirzepatide being given to overweight and obese adults who did not have type 2 diabetes and found the participants experienced substantial and sustained body weight reductions [3].

What is Mounjaro approved for?

Mounjaro has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, and the United Kingdom Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for type 2 diabetes.

In the UK, Mounjaro is approved for weight management in adults who have a BMI of 30kg/m² or more [5].

It is also approved for overweight patients (with a BMI of 27-30kg/m²) who have weight-related health problems such as pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart problems.

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic and Mounjaro have some similarities, but they are different medications. Ozempic is a semaglutide injection and comes in 0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg weekly doses [6].

The maximum dose is 2mg weekly, and the medication should always be taken as prescribed by your doctor.

Similar to Mounjaro, doctors prescribe Ozempic to help lower blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes.

It is also prescribed to reduce the chances of major cardiovascular events (such as heart attack or stroke) for adults who have type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

How does Ozempic work?

To understand how Ozempic works, let's look at its key ingredient, semaglutide.

Semaglutide mimics a hormone and stimulates insulin production when your blood sugar levels increase [7].

It also helps prevent your liver from making and releasing too much sugar [6].

As these hormone levels rise, another effect is that it sends molecules to your brain telling you you're full and slows down digestion — and these side effects mean that semaglutide often leads to weight loss.

What is Ozempic approved for?

In the UK, Ozempic is approved by the MHRA for adults with 'insufficiently controlled' type 2 diabetes.

The ingredient semaglutide is approved as a weight loss drug under the name Wegovy, which can only be accessed through specialist clinics.

What are the side effects of Mounjaro vs Ozempic?

Like any medication, both Ozempic and Mounjaro can have side effects.

Common side effects of Mounjaro include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Abdominal pain.

On Mounjaro's packaging, there are warnings about other potential side effects, namely thyroid tumours and thyroid cancer [1].

However, these warnings are based on studies of animals and it is unclear whether this risk is also present in humans [10].

Still, anybody with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 or a family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma is advised not to take Mounjaro.

Other side effects can include inflammation of the pancreas, low blood sugar levels, and kidney problems or kidney failure — although these are a lot less common.

Some users could also experience symptoms of allergic reactions including rash or itching, feeling dizzy, elevated heartbeat, problems breathing or swallowing, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat.

The most common side effects of Ozempic are [8]:

Like Mounjaro, Ozempic can also cause more serious issues (although rarer) including thyroid tumours or cancer, changes in vision, pancreatitis, low blood sugar levels, kidney issues, gallbladder problems and severe allergic reactions.

Can you take Mounjaro and Ozempic together?

It is not recommended to take more than one GLP-1 medication at a time.

These drugs can also interact with other medications you might be taking, so it is always best to speak with your doctor and make sure they are aware of all of your medications and any other health conditions before you begin taking a new drug.

Can you switch from Ozempic to Mounjaro?

As long as you are doing so under the guidance of a doctor, it is generally safe to switch from one medication to another, as long as you can tolerate the new one.

If you are switching, it is best to stop taking one type of medication, and then start the new type one week later to make sure you are not going over the maximum weekly dose of the active ingredient or GLP-1 agonist [9].

If you have had an adverse reaction previously, you may want to wait longer before starting the new medication.

How do I know which weight loss medication is right for me?

Figuring out which medication is right for you, or going to a doctor and asking for a GLP-1 medication might be a little overwhelming.

This is where a programme like Juniper's Weight Reset is especially helpful. The programme begins with a quiz to assess your health and needs, and prescribers will then assess your eligibility to make sure you are a suitable candidate for the medication.

We offer Mounjaro and Wegovy as medication options (pre-orders for Mounjaro are available now for delivery in March).

The Weight Reset Programme will also help you learn sustainable nutritional, exercise and lifestyle choices to form habits that actually stick.

You can track your progress, interact with our community, and have unlimited consultations with our health experts to help you along your journey to lose weight.

Weight loss and prioritising your health can be difficult, and the prospect of making long-term changes might be daunting but remember: you don't have to do it alone.

Image credit: Getty Images