In recent months, GLP-1 medications Mounjaro and Ozempic have become hot topics of discussion. These injectable medications are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to control blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes, but studies also show significant weight loss in people taking Mounjaro and Ozempic, which has led to off-label use of these medications by individuals with obesity or excess body weight.
If you’re considering Mounjaro or Ozempic for weight loss in conjunction with lifestyle changes (i.e. diet and exercise), it’s important to know how these drugs compare, as well as the benefits and risks of taking them.
This article will compare Mounjaro and Ozempic and discuss their potential use in weight loss.
Understanding The Basics
When we eat, our bodies release incretins, or hormones, called GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) and GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1). These hormones:
- Increase glucose-induced insulin release from the pancreas
- Slow digestion
- Help you feel full for longer
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body may not produce enough GIP and GLP-1, and thus medications like Ozempic and Mounjaro work by mimicking these hormones to control blood sugar levels in the body.
What is Mounjaro?
Mounjaro (tirzepatide) is produced by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and acts as a dual GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonist, which means it works by activating both receptors in your body. This medication is approved to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes, when also taken in conjunction with lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise. However, because the medication causes you to eat less and feel full for longer, it can also lead to significant weight loss.
The starting dose of 2.5 mg should be given once weekly for four weeks, before increasing to a 5 mg weekly injection. Your provider may continue to increase your dose every 4 weeks to a maximum of 15 mg in order to achieve adequate glucose control.
Mounjaro comes in single-dose, pre-filled auto-injection pen and should be administered under the skin (subcutaneously) once a week.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic (semaglutide) is produced by the company Novo Nordisk and works as an agonist only at the GLP-1 receptor. Approved by the FDA in 2017, this medication works to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes, alongside lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise. If you have heart disease, Ozempic can also lower the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke. Like Mounjaro, Ozempic can also lead to significant weight loss.
The 0.25 mg starting dose is given once a week for 4 weeks, and then increased to 0.5 mg weekly. Based on your A1C, or average blood sugar over a 3 month period, your provider may increase your dose every 4 weeks to a maximum of 2 mg.
Ozempic is currently administered as a pre-filled, dial-a-dose pen which should be taken as an injection under the skin once a week.
What’s the Difference Between Mounjaro and Ozempic ?
Although Mounjaro and Ozempic are similar in many ways, the key factors which will help you and your healthcare provider select the best medication for you include: clinical effectiveness, side effects, and cost.
Ozempic vs Mounjaro for Weight Loss: Which One is Better?
If you’re considering Ozempic or Mounjaro as a potential weight loss medication, you’re probably wondering if these medications have the same weight loss effects.
Although both medications seem to be effective for weight loss, available data shows that people taking Mounjaro may lose more weight and see faster results.
In the SUSTAIN FORTE trial, participants taking Ozempic 2 mg lost an average of 14 pounds compared to 12.5 pounds in those taking Ozempic 1 mg.
In a 72-week clinical trial, adults with type 2 diabetes who had obesity or were considered overweight, lost an average of 34 pounds while taking Mounjaro. Participants taking 10 mg and 15 mg doses showed significant weight loss compared to those who did not receive Mounjaro, and over 80% reached at least 5% weight loss.
Additionally, in trials comparing Ozempic vs Mounjaro, participants taking Mounjaro lost more weight than those taking Ozempic and the median time to reach at least 5% weight loss was:
- 24 weeks with Ozempic 1 mg
- 16 weeks with Mounjaro 5 mg
- 12 weeks with Mounjaro 10 and 15 mg
Remember, your individual weight loss may be different from the results seen in clinical trials. It’s important to review your personal history, as well as potential side effects and cost for each medication, with your healthcare provider to determine which medication is right for you.
Mounjaro vs Ozempic: Side Effects
Like other medications, there are potential side effects associated with Mounjaro and Ozempic.
Since both medications slow digestion, the most common side effects are the same. If you’re taking Mounjaro or Ozempic, you may experience:
- Abdominal pain
These side effects may get better over time and can be different for everyone. Be sure to discuss any individual concerns with your healthcare provider.
Mounjaro vs Ozempic: Cost Analysis
Given that both of these medications are long-term treatments for conditions like diabetes and weight loss, cost is something important to consider as you compare the two medications.
The average retail cost is about $1,190 for a 28-day supply of Mounjaro and about $1,060 for a 28-day supply of Ozempic. If you don’t have health insurance and are paying out of pocket in cash for your prescription, there are additional discounts which you may be eligible for at certain retail pharmacy locations.
If you have prescription insurance coverage, your price may be lower, depending on the reason the medication was prescribed. Since weight loss is considered off-label use for these medications, some insurance companies may charge you a higher co-pay while other insurance companies may not cover these medications at all if solely prescribed for weight management. In the event your insurance doesn’t cover your prescription for Mounjaro or Ozempic, you may also be able to lower your out-of-pocket costs with savings cards or other programs offered directly through the pharmaceutical manufacturers Eli Lilly (Mounjaro) or Novo Nordisk (Ozempic).
If out-of-pocket costs are a concern with these medications, you may want to consider other weight loss options such as Contrave. Contrave is FDA-approved for weight loss and comes at a significantly lower out-of-pocket cost. You can learn more information about Contrave, including its potential side effects, here.
Your healthcare provider can help you decide which medication is the best choice for you based on your personal preferences, health status, treatment goals, and budget.
Precautions: Who Should Be Cautious?
Before taking Mounjaro or Ozempic, you should talk to your healthcare provider:
- If you take other medications for diabetes that can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) such as insulin or sulfonylureas
- If you’re at risk for, or have a history of, pancreatitis, kidney disease, gallbladder disease, or diabetic retinopathy
- If you’re considering becoming pregnant in the future
Discontinue Mounjaro or Ozempic at least two months prior to becoming pregnant. These medications should not be used if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Mounjaro may decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. Talk to your healthcare provider about options for non-oral contraception. Consider adding a barrier method when starting therapy or switching to a higher dose.
Mounjaro and Ozempic should be avoided if:
While improved blood sugar control and significant weight loss make Mounjaro and Ozempic attractive options, it’s important to discuss the warnings and precautions with your healthcare provider when considering these medications.
Combining Mounjaro and Ozempic: Is it Safe and Effective?
If you have diabetes, you may already be taking more than one medication to manage your condition.
Mounjaro and Ozempic both activate GLP-1 receptors to increase insulin release. They can be used in combination with other non-GLP-1 medications to improve glucose control. However, these medications have not been studied together and should not be used in combination for diabetes management or weight loss.
Using Mounjaro and Ozempic together may increase your risk of serious side effects like pancreatitis and gallbladder disease. If you need to add another medication to better manage your diabetes or improve weight loss, talk to your healthcare provider to determine what other options are available.
Wegovy vs. Ozempic: Which One is Better for Weight Loss?
You may have heard about another GLP-1 medication called Wegovy, which like Ozempic, contains the GLP-1 agonist semaglutide.
Wegovy is FDA-approved for chronic weight management, in combination with a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity. It can be used in:
- Adults with obesity
- Adults who are overweight with at least one weight-related comorbidity (i.e. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes)
- Pediatric patients 12 years of age and older with obesity
The starting dose is 0.25 mg given subcutaneously once a week. The target dose is 2.4 mg once weekly.
A 68-week study compared semaglutide 2.4 mg, the maximum dose of Wegovy, to semaglutide 1 mg, the highest dose of Ozempic available at the time. Participants receiving Wegovy 2.4 mg had more significant weight loss than those receiving Ozempic 1 mg.
If you’re prescribed Wegovy, contact your provider if you notice palpitations or feel like your heartbeat is racing while resting. Be sure to also discuss any worsening depression or unusual mood changes with your healthcare provider.
Wrapping Up and Important Considerations: Mounjaro vs Ozempic for Weight Loss
As we have discussed, Mounjaro and Ozempic are FDA-approved medications that improve glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes, when used in conjunction with diet and exercise. If you have heart disease, Ozempic may also reduce your risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
Although clinical trials have shown that these medications also lead to a significant reduction in weight, the use of these medications for weight loss is still considered off-label and not FDA-approved.
The primary considerations when choosing which of these medications is best for you include: clinical effectiveness, side effects, safety and cost. The most common side effects with both Mounjaro and Ozempic are GI-related and may go away over time. Regarding cost, if you currently have health insurance, you can check with your insurance carrier in order to determine your out-of-pocket costs for these medications.
It’s important to speak with your healthcare provider about your health status, weight loss goals, and potential treatment options, which can include Mounjaro and Ozempic as well as other medications. Your provider can review the advantages and disadvantages and address any concerns you may have about each medication.
This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.