Obesity has become a global epidemic, with over 650 million adults worldwide considered obese. For many, losing weight through diet and exercise alone can be challenging. New prescription medications like ozempic and mounjaro offer hope for those struggling with obesity and type 2 diabetes. But what’s the difference between these two popular drugs?
Ozempic and mounjaro are both injectable drugs that work by mimicking natural gut hormones called GLP-1 and GIP. By activating receptors for GLP-1 and GIP, these drugs regulate blood sugar levels, suppress appetite, and promote weight loss.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how ozempic and mounjaro work, compare their effectiveness for blood sugar control and weight loss, look at potential side effects, and examine key factors like FDA approval status and cost. Read on to learn everything you need to know about using ozempic or mounjaro for weight loss.
- Mounjaro produces greater weight loss (25 lbs on average) compared to Ozempic (7% weight loss on average)
- Mounjaro is a dual GLP-1/GIP receptor agonist, while Ozempic only activates GLP-1 receptors
- Neither medication has FDA approval specifically for weight loss yet
- Common side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea due to slowed digestion
- Average monthly out-of-pocket costs are $1,100 for Mounjaro, $1,000 for Ozempic
- For best results, combine medication with diet, exercise, and behavior changes
How Do Ozempic and Mounjaro Work?
To understand how ozempic and mounjaro promote weight loss, it helps to first look at how these drugs work at a molecular level.
Ozempic contains semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist. GLP-1 is a hormone released naturally in the gut after eating. It stimulates the release of insulin to control blood sugar. It also suppresses appetite and slows digestion.
- Semaglutide mimics the effects of natural GLP-1.
- It activates GLP-1 receptors, which lowers blood sugar, decreases appetite, and promotes weight loss.
Mounjaro contains tirzepatide, which is a dual GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonist. Like semaglutide, tirzepatide activates GLP-1 receptors. But it also activates receptors for GIP, another gut hormone.
- Tirzepatide’s dual agonism impacts both blood sugar and body weight.
- Activating GIP and GLP-1 receptors results in increased insulin release, suppressed appetite, and other beneficial effects.
So in summary:
- Ozempic targets GLP-1 receptors.
- Mounjaro targets both GLP-1 and GIP receptors.
This dual action of tirzepatide in mounjaro contributes to its increased effectiveness for blood sugar control and weight loss compared to GLP-1 drugs like ozempic.
Comparing Weight Loss Results
Now let’s look at some actual weight loss results from key clinical trials that tested ozempic and mounjaro.
In 2021, a large phase 3 trial was published comparing semaglutide in ozempic to placebo for weight loss in people with obesity or overweight and at least one weight-related condition.
- Participants received semaglutide 2.4 mg or placebo along with counseling on diet and exercise.
- After 68 weeks, those on semaglutide lost an average of 14.9% of their initial body weight compared to 2.4% for the placebo group.
So semaglutide in ozempic clearly leads to significant weight loss. But how does mounjaro compare?
In a key trial known as SURMOUNT-1, tirzepatide was tested as a weight loss treatment in adults with obesity or overweight.
- Participants were given mounjaro at doses of 5 mg, 10 mg, or 15 mg or a placebo. No lifestyle intervention was included.
- At 72 weeks, patients achieved mean weight reductions of 16.0%, 21.4%, and 26.6% on the mounjaro 5 mg, 10 mg and 15 mg doses, respectively.
The results clearly demonstrate that the highest dose of mounjaro leads to greater weight loss than the highest doses of ozempic tested in trials so far.
On average, mounjaro 15 mg led to about 12% more weight loss than ozempic 2.4 mg after approximately 1 year of treatment.
However, it’s worth noting that Mounjaro has not yet been compared head-to-head with ozempic in a single clinical trial. So there is still more research needed. But based on the best data we have so far, mounjaro seems to promote greater weight loss at the maximum doses of each medication.
Impact on Blood Sugar and HbA1c
In addition to weight loss, both ozempic and mounjaro have been shown to significantly improve blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Let’s look at some key findings on HbA1c reduction from clinical trials:
- In a trial of semaglutide in ozempic, HbA1c was lowered by 1.5% compared to placebo after 40 weeks.
- For mounjaro, the pooled analysis of the SURMOUNT trials found HbA1c reductions of 1.9%, 2.2%, and 2.3% for the 5, 10, and 15 mg doses after 58 weeks.
So at the highest doses tested, mounjaro reduced HbA1c slightly more than ozempic. Both drugs led to beyond the 0.5% reduction in HbA1c that diabetes experts say is clinically meaningful.
The trial compared three Mounjaro doses (5 mg, 10 mg, and 15 mg) to the 1 mg Ozempic dose over 40 weeks (about 9 months). People receiving any dose of Mounjaro had a greater reduction in hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C or A1C) compared to people receiving Ozempic.
Overall, mounjaro demonstrates greater blood sugar lowering ability compared to ozempic, likely due to its dual agonism of GLP-1 and GIP receptors.
However, both drugs show clear benefits for improving blood glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes when combined with diet, exercise, and other diabetes treatment.
Side Effects and Safety
When considering any prescription weight loss medication, it’s important to understand potential side effects and safety issues. Here’s an overview of what’s known so far about side effects of ozempic vs mounjaro:
Gastrointestinal side effects are common with both drugs, especially when first starting treatment:
- Up to 40% of patients may experience temporary nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, dyspepsia, and gastroparesis.
- These GI effects are typically mild to moderate and often improve with time.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a risk if either drug is prescribed with insulin or a sulfonylurea. Blood sugar monitoring and medication adjustments are recommended.
Injection site reactions can occur but are usually mild. Reactions at the injection site include rash, itching, irritation, pain and bruising.
Increased heart rate has been observed in trials with both drugs. The clinical significance of this is still uncertain.
In clinical trials, both ozempic and mounjaro were generally well tolerated. Discontinuation rates due to side effects were low. No worrying safety signals have emerged for either drug so far.
When comparing side effect rates between the two drugs, mounjaro tended to have slightly higher rates of GI side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
This is likely because of its greater magnitude of effect at higher doses. But real-world studies are needed to clarify side effect rates between the two medications.
FDA Approval Status
Currently, the FDA has approved both ozempic and mounjaro for blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes, but not specifically for weight loss. Here are some key facts about their regulatory status:
- Ozempic was approved by the FDA in 2017 for improving blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes.
- The semaglutide compound in ozempic is also available as a weight-loss drug under the brand name Wegovy, which was approved in 2021.
- Mounjaro was approved in May 2022 for treatment of type 2 diabetes only, not for weight management.
- However, the FDA is currently reviewing an application to also approve mounjaro for chronic weight management. A decision is expected sometime in 2023. (Mounjaro was finally approved for weight loss on November 8, 2023).
So in summary:
- Ozempic is FDA-approved as a diabetes treatment.
- Mounjaro is currently only approved for diabetes and for weight loss that
Until then, mounjaro can only be prescribed off-label for weight management. However its impressive clinical trial results support its effectiveness as a weight loss agent.
Cost and Insurance Coverage
For many patients, cost can be a major factor in choosing a weight loss medication. Here is some information on the pricing and insurance coverage of ozempic vs mounjaro:
- The average wholesale cost of mounjaro is $1,274.00 per month for the maintenance dose of 15mg.
- For ozempic, the average monthly wholesale cost is $919.40 for the highest 2mg dose.
- However, the out-of-pocket cost you pay depends on your specific insurance plan. Both drugs are covered by most major insurance companies.
- Eligibility for manufacturer savings programs and patient assistance can reduce your out-of-pocket costs for either medication.
In general, mounjaro tends to be more expensive than ozempic. But the price difference may or may not affect your individual copay depending on your insurance.
Some key tips:
- Check if ozempic and mounjaro are covered on your insurance plan and what your copay will be.
- Explore ways to reduce your out-of-pocket costs, such as payment assistance programs or copay cards.
- Compare the potential extra weight loss benefits of mounjaro to any added cost.
Comparing Pros and Cons
Let’s summarize some of the key factors to weigh when considering ozempic vs mounjaro for weight loss:
- Approved for diabetes treatment
- Lower cost on average
- Well established safety profile
- Less effective for weight loss based on studies so far
- Primarily targets only GLP-1 receptors
- Superior weight loss results in clinical trials
- Also improves blood sugar control
- First dual GLP-1/GIP agonist
- Only currently approved for diabetes
- More expensive on average
- Higher rates of GI side effects
Carefully considering these pros and cons for each medication can help guide your decision if you’re wondering whether to use ozempic or mounjaro. Be sure to discuss all your options with your healthcare provider.
Lifestyle Changes Are Also Critical for Success
It’s important to note that while prescription medications like mounjaro and ozempic can certainly help, lifestyle interventions remain critical for successful long-term weight loss.
Making sustainable changes to your nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and stress management maximizes your results when using these drugs. Work closely with your doctor or a dietitian to make lifestyle changes.
Your medical provider may also recommend counseling or a structured weight loss program. Many people find extra support and accountability helps them stick to new healthy habits while taking ozempic or mounjaro.
Talk to Your Doctor About Which Drug Is Right for You
Mounjaro shows real promise as a highly effective option for weight loss, beyond even ozempic. But it’s not yet clear if it will become a first-line obesity treatment.
More comparative research is still needed to better understand the risks and benefits of each medication. Outcomes likely vary between individuals as well.
Talk to your doctor about whether ozempic or mounjaro may be right for you based on:
- Your degree of excess weight and weight loss goals
- Any history of side effects with other GLP-1 drugs
- Your current diabetes medications
- Cost and insurance coverage of each drug
- Motivation to also implement lifestyle changes
Working together with your healthcare provider, you can determine if prescription weight loss medication with ozempic or mounjaro is appropriate for your situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Ozempic and Mounjaro?
The main difference is that Mounjaro (tirzepatide) acts on both GLP-1 and GIP receptors, while Ozempic (semaglutide) only activates GLP-1 receptors. Mounjaro’s dual agonism leads to enhanced effects on appetite, satiety, and weight loss.
How much weight can I expect to lose on Mounjaro?
In clinical trials, people lost an average of 25 pounds over 68 weeks on the highest dose of Mounjaro. But results vary between individuals based on dosage, diet, exercise and other factors. Discuss realistic expectations with your doctor.
What are the side effects of Mounjaro and Ozempic?
Upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation are common when starting both medications. Symptoms usually improve with time. Less common side effects include dizziness, headache, fatigue, and gallbladder disease.
Are Mounjaro and Ozempic approved for weight loss?
No, they currently only have FDA approval for managing blood sugar in type 2 diabetes. But they are prescribed off-label for weight loss under medical supervision. Mounjaro is expected to gain approval for chronic weight management in 2023.
How much does Mounjaro cost compared to Ozempic?
The average monthly out-of-pocket costs are around $1,100 for Mounjaro and $1,000 for Ozempic without insurance. Exact copays vary between insurance plans. Manufacturer savings cards can reduce costs for eligible patients.
Should I take Mounjaro or Ozempic for weight loss?
Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of each medication. Mounjaro produces greater average weight loss, but Ozempic has more long-term safety data. Individual factors like side effects, insurance coverage, and cost should help guide the decision.
Obesity and diabetes remain two of the biggest health challenges worldwide. New gut hormone medications like ozempic and mounjaro represent an exciting advancement for controlling blood sugar and promoting weight loss.
Of the two drugs, mounjaro shows greater promise in helping patients lose significant weight, with over 20% body weight reduction seen in studies.
However, ozempic has a longer track record of safety and may be a more affordable option. Understanding the differences between these two obesity medications allows patients to make informed decisions alongside their healthcare teams.
Achieving long-term weight loss success requires combining prescription drugs with improved nutrition, increased activity, and behavior changes. But for some individuals struggling to manage their weight or diabetes, mounjaro or ozempic may provide much needed help.