Ozempic vs Rybelsus: What’s the difference?

Both Ozempic® and Rybelsus® have been in the news lately. When you compare Ozempic vs Rybelsus, what are some of the similarities and what are the main differences? Today, we will be answering questions like: How do Ozempic® and Rybelsus® work? Are they safe? How do they differ from one another? We’re answering those questions and more below. 

What is Ozempic®?

Ozempic (semaglutide) is a once-weekly injectable prescription medication used to help adults with Type 2 Diabetes improve their blood sugar. This medication works by reducing appetite and helping people feel full after eating less food than they normally would. Along with regular exercise and a healthy diet, Ozempic can help you reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke, or death in adults with type 2 diabetes with known heart disease. Ozempic® is not for use in people with type 1 diabetes.

Semaglutide is available under multiple brand names: There’s Ozempic®, as well as Wegovy® and Rybelsus®. All three are manufactured by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. Ozempic® and Rybelsus® are indicated for type 2 diabetes, whereas Wegovy® is specifically indicated for the treatment of overweight and obesity. 

What is Rybelsus®?

Rybelsus® (semaglutide) tablets 7 mg or 14 mg is a prescription medicine used along with diet and exercise to improve blood sugar (glucose) in adults with type 2 diabetes. Rybelsus® is not for use in people with type 1 diabetes.

How do drugs like Ozempic® and Rybelsus® work? 

Both Ozempic® and Rybelsus® work by mimicking incretin hormones in the body—a type of hormone that is released whenever food is consumed. Among other things, they help promote a feeling of fullness by delaying gastric emptying and activating the satiety centers of the brain. They also boost insulin production in the pancreas and suppress glucagon production, both of which help normalize blood sugar. 

What about your natural incretin hormones? Studies have found that people diagnosed with overweight or obesity may have a reduction in incretin effects, particularly if they have had frequent weight fluctuations.

Comparing Ozempic® (semaglutide) and Rybelsus® (semaglutide)

When comparing Ozempic vs Rybelsus, it has been proven in clinical trials that both are effective not only in improving metabolic health, reducing hemoglobin A1C, and assisting with weight loss—the data also shows that they may reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke and improve cardiovascular outcomes.

Are Ozempic® and Rybelsus® safe?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must approve any drugs sold in the United States. This is true whether it’s a prescription or an over-the-counter drug. The FDA evaluates both the effectiveness and safety of a drug by looking at:

  • How animal testing and human clinical trials affect the condition the drug is treating
  • If any side effects occur
  • The manufacturing process

The FDA also monitors a drug’s safety after approval. Healthcare providers and patients can report drug side effects through the FDA’s MedWatch website.

For you, drug safety means buying online only from licensed pharmacies located in the United States. It also means knowing how to take your medicines correctly.

The below chart outlines some of the key similarities and differences between once-weekly injectable semaglutide (Ozempic®) and semaglutide tablets (Rybelsus®) along with other GLP-1 agonists on the market today.

DosageTablet
or Injection
FDA-Approved
for
Generic
Available
(as of 8/2023)
Ozempic
(semaglutide)
once weeklyInjectionType 2 DiabetesNo
Rybelsus
(semaglutide)
once dailyTabletType 2 DiabetesNo
Wegovy
(semaglutide)
once weeklyInjectionWeight LossNo
Saxenda
(liraglutide)
once dailyInjectionWeight LossNo*
Victoza
(liraglutide)
once dailyInjectionType 2 DiabetesNo*
Byetta
(exenatide)
twice dailyInjectionType 2 DiabetesNo
Mounjaro
(tirzepatide)
once weeklyInjectionType 2 DiabetesNo

*the patent for Victoza will expire in December 2023 at the earliest, but this will only cover liraglutide when used for type 2 diabetes. At the moment, data suggests that generic Saxenda may become available in 2026, but we’re unsure whether Victoza being available in an unbranded form sooner will affect availability.

How do they differ from one another?

When looking at Ozempic vs Rybelsus, the major difference is the way the route of medication (Ozempic – weekly injection / Rybelsus – daily tablet(s)). Rybelsus also has more restrictions like you must take the drug on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. Ozempic does not have those restrictions.

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