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Wegovy vs Ozempic: What's the difference?

Despite containing the same active ingredient, Wegovy and Ozempic are not interchangeable.

Wegovy vs Ozempic: What's the Difference? | Juniper

Thanks to recent mentions in the media, you've probably heard of the medication Ozempic. And, chances are that Wegovy is another name you're becoming increasingly familiar with.

Wegovy and Ozempic are 2 drugs containing semaglutide, which is an active ingredient used for both type-2 diabetes and chronic weight management.

However, despite containing the same active ingredient, Wegovy and Ozempic are not interchangeable. There are a few key differences between the medications, which have implications for how they’re used and who can use them.

To help demystify these medications, we've created a handy guide on the differences between Wegovy and Ozempic. Let's get started.

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a prescription medication licensed to treat type-2 diabetes. It contains the active ingredient semaglutide, is designed to regulate blood sugar levels, and has also been found to lower the risk of a stroke or heart attack. For the latter reason, it is also useful in the treatment of patients with heart disease [2].

Ozempic comes in the form of a pre-filled injection pen and is administered once a week for blood sugar control.

What is Wegovy?

Wegovy is also an injectable medication containing semaglutide. While Ozempic is used for the treatment of type-2 diabetes, Wegovy is primarily a weight loss medication. Although these 2 brands contain the same active ingredient, they are officially licensed for different uses.

Wegovy is newer than Ozempic. It was only approved for use in the UK in 2022 and is now available to access for weight management.

To be eligible for Wegovy, you must have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or greater (obesity). This criterion can be lowered slightly to 27kg/m2 (overweight) if you also have a weight-related comorbid condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, PCOS, asthma or sleep apnoea [3].

You can access Wegovy via Juniper's Weight Reset Programme.

What is the difference between Ozempic and Wegovy?

Ozempic and Wegovy are similar in a lot of ways. For starters, they both contain semaglutide and are both delivered via injection.

When it comes to differences between these medications, the first is that Wegovy was researched and trialled as a weight-loss drug, while Ozempic was studied as a treatment for diabetes. 

Ozempic remains a drug used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Wegovy, on the other hand, is specifically designed for chronic weight management and is prescribed solely as a weight loss medication.

Another difference is that Wegovy can be supplied in higher doses — the maximum dose of Wegovy is 2.4mg versus 1.0mg for Ozempic.

How does semaglutide (Ozempic and Wegovy) work?

Semaglutide — the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy — mimics the hormone responsible for regulating your appetite (GLP-1).

It targets the brain receptors that make you feel hungry, lessens your appetite and helps you feel full for longer. In turn, this should encourage you to consume less and, ultimately, reduce your body weight.

It also stimulates the rate of insulin secretion and slows down gastric emptying, helping to control your blood sugar.

When used for weight loss purposes, semaglutide should be paired with healthy lifestyle changes, including a reduced-calorie diet and increased exercise [3].

Clinical trials have shown that people lose more weight with semaglutide medications in conjunction with weight loss coaching than alone [4].

In our Weight Reset Programme, we prescribe GLP-1 medications with health coaching and community support. Our programme focuses on these 3 key areas in order to support you in losing weight sustainably and with the knowledge that you'll be able to keep it off in the long term.

Juniper's Weight Reset Programme can be broken down into the following areas:

  • A biological reset: We prescribe weight loss medications, like Wegovy, which target the receptors in the brain that control your appetite. The medication works to lower your body’s ‘set point’, which is the weight it fights to maintain at a biological level.
  • A behavioural reset: Experienced professionals will support you every step of the way. You’ll learn sustainable nutritional, exercise and lifestyle choices and track your progress to help you form long-term habits that stick.
  • Our community: Numerous studies have shown that people in group communities achieve greater weight loss than those who do it alone [8]. That’s why we’re here. We’re dedicated to helping women make lifestyle changes that are often difficult to achieve on their own.

How effective is semaglutide for weight loss?

Semaglutide has been shown to reduce body weight by an average of 15% [1]. In fact, it is the most successful anti-diabetic medication for weight loss results [5].

Prior to 2022 (or 2021 in the United States), Ozempic was the primary brand of semaglutide medication available. Now, with Wegovy licensed specifically as a weight loss medication, medical practitioners will no longer need to prescribe Ozempic off-label.

It's important to note that when it comes to weight management, what is considered better will largely depend on your individual needs and circumstances, including existing health conditions, your family history and other risk factors. 

When you have a consultation with a Juniper clinician, we'll make sure that semaglutide is suitable for your circumstances before prescribing it.

Wegovy vs Ozempic: dosing schedules

Both Wegovy and Ozempic are prescribed as pre-filled injectable pens, which are to be self-administered once a week.

Those prescribed Wegovy will start on a dose of 0.25 mg for at least 4 weeks, then cycle through the other dose strengths in 4-week minimum blocks until reaching the maximum dose of 2.4mg (a maintenance dose).

This is similar to Ozempic, however, the highest available dose is 1mg.

For Wegovy, the doses are:

  • 0.25mg (first month)
  • 0.5mg (second month)
  • 1.0mg (third month)
  • 1.7mg (fourth month), and
  • 2.4mg (from the fifth month onwards).

For Ozempic, doses are:

  • 0.25mg (first month)
  • 0.5mg (second month), and
  • 1.0mg (from the third month onwards).

Ozempic doses of 1mg may be taken once weekly, depending on the case [6].

Semaglutide is safe for long-term use and can be used as long as it is beneficial to the patient.

What are the side effects of Wegovy and Ozempic?

Understanding side effects is important before starting any medication.

Common side effects of Ozempic and Wegovy include changes to your sense of taste, digestive side effects (diarrhoea, gas, heartburn/acid reflux etc.), vomiting, nausea, fatigue, light-headedness or headaches.

There are also rare but serious side effects, such as pancreatitis or retinopathy [5].

Semaglutide medications should also not be prescribed to anyone with a history of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) as this has been a side effect shown in rats but not in humans [5].

To explore side effects further, we've created a handy guide on all of the side effects associated with Ozempic as well as advice on how to deal with them.

As with all medications, the probability and risk of side effects vary between individual patients. Before you start any new treatment, consider a thorough consultation with your GP or one of our Juniper clinicians to answer any questions you may have.

Can you switch from Ozempic to Wegovy?

Yes, you should be able to, as long as you have the guidance of your doctor. They can help you navigate the transition with safety and deal with potential side effects.