When it comes to weight loss, there are countless products available on the market, but two medications have recently stepped into the spotlight. Known for its success in treating Type 2 diabetes, Ozempic may offer hope to the 42% of Americans classified as obese by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recently approved by the FDA, Zepbound offers another innovative option for those who want to drop pounds without surgery. Read on to explore the benefits, side effects, and key differences between Zepbound and Ozempic.
What Is Zepbound?
Zepbound is a relatively new weight loss drug patients can self-inject once per week from the comfort of their own homes. Manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company, this powerful medication received the stamp of approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2023. Available through both mail-order and retail pharmacies,
Zepbound has been on the market under another name, Mounjaro, for quite some time as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes. Both medications contain the same amount of tirzepatide as the primary active ingredient. Zepbound works in two ways. First, it helps patients curb their appetite, reducing how much food they consume. Second, it breaks down fats and sugars by acting like the hormones our bodies release after eating.
What Is Ozempic?
Ozempic is a weekly injection commonly used to treat Type 2 diabetes. In 2017, the FDA approved the use of Ozempic for adults with diabetes, stating that this medication is effective at lowering blood sugar by increasing insulin production. It's important to note that at this time the FDA has not approved Ozempic for weight loss, although UC Davis Health notes some physicians may still prescribe the drug for this reason.
However, the FDA has approved the generic version of Ozempic, known as semaglutide, for weight loss. The most common brand name for semaglutide is Wegovy, which is manufactured by Novo Nordisk. Ozempic may suppress appetite and slow digestion, creating an effect similar to having bariatric surgery.
Zepbound vs. Ozempic
Here's an overview of the primary differences between Zepbound and Ozempic to help you determine whether one of these medications may be right for you on your weight loss journey:
While both Zepbound and Ozempic show promising results for weight loss, Zepbound performs slightly better in clinical trials. In a recent FDA-backed study comprised of adults without diabetes, participants who took Zepbound for 17 months saw an average body weight decrease of 18% compared to those who received the placebo. In a separate clinical trial, the FDA notes that non-diabetic adults who took Wegovy, the weight loss-approved version of Ozempic, for 16 months saw an average of a 12.4% decrease in their overall body weight compared to participants who took the placebo.
Both Zepbound and Ozempic can help patients lose unwanted weight, which may decrease the risk of other serious conditions, such as heart complications. If you're considering bariatric surgery, taking Zepbound or Ozempic may be a less invasive option to try first. Additionally, patients with Type 2 diabetes may benefit from taking Zepbound or Ozempic as these medications improve insulin production and decrease blood glucose levels.
According to Eli Lilly, Zepbound can cause gastrointestinal issues when patients first begin taking the medication or increase the dosage they receive. Common side effects associated with Zepbound include:
- Stomach pain.
- Allergic reactions.
- Hair loss.
- Injection site reactions.
Serious but rare side effects patients should look out for include pancreatitis, depression, suicidal thoughts, kidney and gallbladder issues, and low blood sugar. Patients with Type 2 diabetes may also experience vision changes. If you have a family or personal medical history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, please discuss this with your primary care provider before taking Zepbound. Studies show this medication causes thyroid C-cell tumors in rats, although the FDA has not determined whether the same issue may impact humans.
The most common side effects associated with Ozempic also involve gastrointestinal issues, including:
- Abdominal pain.
Serious but rare side effects patients should be aware of include possible thyroid tumors and cancer, pancreatitis, hypoglycemia, vision changes, kidney failure, gallbladder issues, and severe allergic reactions.
Before you talk to your doctor about whether Zepbound or Ozempic is the right choice to aid you on your weight loss journey, it's important to understand the limitations of each of these popular medications. While Zepbound is a very effective treatment, the FDA has only approved it for adults who are overweight or obese and have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or another weight-related condition.
Under the brand name Wegovy, Ozempic can help adults and children over the age of 12 overcome obesity, but this medication should coincide with a healthy diet and exercise plan. Patients already taking a GLP-1 receptor agonist or semaglutide-based medication should not take Ozempic.
Additionally, Nova Nordisk states that it is unclear whether Wegovy is safe to take alongside other prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal weight-loss products. If you have a history of pancreatitis, please discuss this with your doctor. The manufacturer states it doesn't know whether Wegovy is safe to take with this condition. Furthermore, if you or a family member have had medullary thyroid carcinoma or Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), do not take Ozempic.
There are also still hurdles to jump through when getting insurance to cover medications for weight loss. According to the drug manufacturer Eli Lilly, a one-month supply of Zepbound can run patients $1,060. However, this comes in under the price point drug manufacturer Novo Nordisk established for its brand of Ozempic. Wegovy currently costs patients about $1,350 per month.
Is Zepbound or Ozempic Right for You?
Now that we've discussed the benefits, side effects, and key differences between Zepbound and Ozempic, you might wonder what steps you can take to achieve a healthier lifestyle. At the biostation, we help people reach their wellness goals. Request a consultation with our world-class medical team today to get started on your weight loss journey.