Medication Comparison

Semaglutide vs. Ozempic: What You Need to Know

While Semaglutide and Ozempic share similarities as GLP-1 receptor agonists, understanding their distinctions is vital for informed decision-making in diabetes and weight management. Whether considering branded medications or exploring compounded alternatives, consulting healthcare professionals ensures personalized care aligned with individual needs and preferences.

MD EXAM

  • Wednesday, March 13, 2024

In the modern realm of diabetes and obesity treatments, there seems to be a never ending list of medications, buzzwords and fads to know. Semaglutide and Ozempic are two such medications you may have heard of, but what’s the difference? We’ll explain everything you need to know. If you’re looking for more information about just Ozempic, check out this article.

Understanding the Difference

One easy way to understand the difference between semaglutide and Ozempic is to think about them like brands and generics. Like Kleenex is the brand name for a facial tissue, Ozempic is the brand name for semaglutide. Semaglutide is the chemical that Novo Nordisk discovered and developed, while Ozempic is a medication brand that they registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is protected by intellectual property law.

But What Exactly Are They?

Ozempic, also known as semaglutide, belongs to a class of medications called GLP-1 receptor agonists. This once-weekly injection works by mimicking the effects of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which stimulates insulin production and reduces glucose production by the liver. By increasing insulin secretion and decreasing glucagon secretion, Ozempic  helps lower blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Approved by the FDA in December 2017, Ozempic was the first semaglutide patent. The FDA approved Ozempic for the treatment of diabetes specifically, but it is often prescribed off-label, or prescribed for something other than diabetes, effectively making it a weight loss medication as well. The version of semaglutide that was approved for weight loss is called Wegovy, which you can read more about here, and the oral version is called Rybelsus, which you can read about here.

The Role of Compounding

You may have also heard about compounding, which has been both praised and criticized in popular media. We wrote a short guide here, but will also provide a brief explanation below.

Compounding is a way of customizing medications to meet each patient's unique needs. This is especially helpful when regular medications aren't suitable due to allergies, intolerances, or other specific requirements.

In compounding, pharmacists team up with healthcare providers to create personalized medications. This could involve adjusting the dose, changing the form of the medicine (like turning a pill into a liquid), or leaving out ingredients that might cause problems.

Because compounded medication is custom formulated, they cannot be sold as brand names like Ozempic. Semaglutide made in a compounding pharmacy, for example, would be called compounded semaglutide. If it were labeled as Ozempic, that would be incorrect and a violation of patent law.

Understanding the Difference Between Compounded Semaglutide and Ozempic

As mentioned, compounded semaglutide cannot be sold as Ozempic. But what is the difference if they are the same chemical? The two biggest differences for a consumer are regulation and price.

Compounded medications are not regulated the same way as branded medications. They do not need to follow the same patent and approval process with the FDA, so there are more bad actors trying to make a quick buck and selling fake or unsafe “compounded semaglutide.” These risks can be avoided by properly vetting sellers and looking for accreditations like LegitScript, which is what we use at MD Exam.

The big benefit of compounded medications is affordability. While branded medications have a price set by the company that makes them, compounded medications do not. Compounded medications are often priced much closer to what they cost to make, meaning consumers are not price gouged. At MD Exam, offering compounded medications means we can provide it at less than 1/3 of the retail price of Ozempic. No offense if you don’t choose us, but make sure you properly vet who you buy from!

Which One Is Right for Me?

While Semaglutide and Ozempic share similarities as GLP-1 receptor agonists, understanding their distinctions is vital for informed decision-making in diabetes and weight management. Whether considering branded medications or exploring compounded alternatives, consulting healthcare professionals ensures personalized care aligned with individual needs and preferences.

Before jumping into using semaglutide for weight loss, it's crucial to talk to a healthcare provider like the medical team at MD Exam. We have a simple questionnaire where you share your medical history and we set you up with a personalized weight loss plan. We have seen the most success with semaglutide and tirzepatide, but we are dedicated to finding the right fit for you.

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