If you’re exploring the world of prescription weight-loss and diabetes medications, you might be asking: Wegovy vs Mounjaro - Which is better for me?
When you compare weight-loss medications like Contrave or Qsymia, which are taken orally, vs Wegovy which is a weekly injectable prescription-strength FDA-approved treatment for obesity. You may have also seen another medication: Mounjaro. You will learn more about Mounjaro shortly. Figuring out which weight loss or diabetes medication is right for you can feel like a full-time job. How do Mounjaro and Wegovy differ? Is one more effective than the other? Which is a better fit for you? Read on to find out!
Wegovy and Mounjaro both use the same mechanism of action GLP-1, but Mounjaro (Tirzepatide) is a "dual agonist."
Each has different side effects, dosages, types of administration, and (importantly!) costs. In this helpful guide, we’ll pit each diabetes and weight loss med against each other and answer many of the questions you need to know.
Before discussing Mounjaro vs Wegovy and other diabetes and weight-loss medications, we will briefly answer a fundamental question.
What Does Wegovy Do?
Wegovy is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (or GLP-1) receptor agonist. It works by increasing the amount of insulin and reducing the amount of glucagon the pancreas releases. This can be very helpful for people who naturally struggle to keep insulin and glucagon balanced.
Wegovy leads to weight loss because it lowers the patient's appetite so you eat less. It mimics the action of a gut hormone called GLP-1, which is released after eating, and it slows down the movement of food in your gut so you stay full longer. Click here, to learn more about what to eat on Wegovy.
Depending on a patient’s needs and goals, this may be helpful – as long as patients on Wegovy can meet their daily nutrient needs like protein, vitamins, and minerals.
What is the history of Wegovy?
Wegovy (semaglutide) is a weight-loss medication. For years, semaglutide brands, Ozempic and Rybelsus, was used off-label – or prescribed for a secondary purpose – to help with weight loss. Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (or GLP-1) receptor agonist approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but it was not the first.
In 2014, liraglutide (Saxenda) was the first GLP-1 agonist to be U.S. FDA-approved for weight management in obese patients without diabetes; in clinical trials, weight loss with a daily injection of liraglutide, compared with placebo, averaged about 5 kg during 1 year. In 2021, the GLP-1 agonist semaglutide (Wegovy) also was approved for this indication, based on impressive weight loss in industry-sponsored studies.
What Does Mounjaro Do?
Mounjaro (Tirzepatide) is one of the newest diabetes drugs that also triggers dramatic weight loss in people who inject it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Mounjaro a year ago for patients with diabetes. Tirzepatide, known as a ‘twincretin’, is a ‘first-in-class’ and the only dual glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP) receptor agonist, that can significantly reduce glycemic levels and improve insulin sensitivity, as well as reducing body weight by more than 20% and improving lipid metabolism. Mounjaro activates two receptors at the same time. That’s why Tirzepatide is called a ‘dual agonist.’
As of May 2023, FDA officials have not approved Mounjaro for weight loss, but Mounjaro has been fast-tracked for the FDA’s consideration of the drug. That’s because clinical trials have shown that people who do not have diabetes but do have elevated body mass indexes (BMI) lost considerable weight when they used Mounjaro.
An FDA recommendation regarding Mounjaro for weight loss could come by the end of 2023.
In the approval for Mounjaro for people with diabetes, federal health officials said it works well for people with Type 2 diabetes. That’s the most common form of diabetes, and more than 30 million Americans suffer from it.
Like Ozempic and Wegovy, it’s an injectable medication, but Mounjaro differs in some specific ways from the other new, popular diabetes medications.
This double agonist approach seems to cause people who use Mounjaro injections to lose even more weight than those who use a single-agonist medication.
These receptors stimulate hormones that control blood sugar levels and reduce appetite, triggering weight loss.
Wegovy and Ozempic activate the GLP-1 receptor, while Mounjaro activates two receptors: both GLP-1 and GIP.
What is the history of Mounjaro?
The FDA approved Tirzepatide in May 2022. Tirzepatide has also been used off-label for treating obesity. It is currently being used as a second-line diabetes medication, similar to GLP-1 medications like semaglutide.
Wegovy vs. Mounjaro: Treatment
When comparing Wegovy vs Mounjaro, there is semaglutide (Wegovy) which is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. It is labeled for use as an adjunct to diet and exercise for chronic weight management in adults classified as obese (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg per m2 or greater) or overweight (BMI of 27 kg per m2 or greater) in the presence of one weight-related comorbidity. Semaglutide is also available in a lower-dose injectable formulation (Ozempic) and an oral formulation (Rybelsus) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Mounjaro utilizes receptors that are known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP).
Both Wegovy and Mounjaro are administered as a once-weekly subcutaneous injection using an injectable pen to deliver the dose.
Wegovy vs Mounjaro: Side Effects
Since Wegovy and Mounjaro use the same mechanism of action, they cause similar side effects. However, because Mounjaro delivers both a GLP-1 and GIP, the side effects of Mounjaro can be more severe.
Potential side effects of both Wegovy and Mounjaro include:
stomach (abdominal) pain
Rarer side effects of these medications may include stomach pain or pain in the abdomen, which can be traced back to pancreatitis or kidney problems. If you suspect you’re experiencing these issues after starting Wegovy or Mounjaro, contact your doctor immediately.
To deal with some of the most common side effects, try to keep meals small and avoid foods that trigger symptoms.
Wegovy vs Mounjaro: Availability
According to the Novo Nordisk website: the demand for Wegovy® in the U.S. has continued to increase at a marked rate. Today we are serving hundreds of thousands of U.S. patients with Wegovy®. However, trends show that demand for Wegovy® will exceed our current supply. Read more about the supply challenges here.
Many Americans with diabetes who relied on the medication wondered how they would maintain their care throughout the semaglutide shortage. Due to recent interest, Mounjaro (Tirzepatide) is facing similar supply concerns.
To track drug availability information for Wegovy, Mounjaro, or other drugs, click here.
Wegovy vs. Mounjaro: Costs
Wegovy launched with a price tag of around $1,627 a month before insurance.
Coverage for weight loss drugs like Wegovy varies widely on the kind of insurance you have and where you live.
A $25 copay card provided by the manufacturer may help ease the cost — but only if you have insurance that covers Wegovy and you meet other requirements. To get the savings card, follow this link.
How much does Mounjaro cost without insurance? The standard out-of-pocket cost of Mounjaro without health insurance is $1,538.30 per 4, 0.5ML of 5MG/0.5ML Solution Pen-injector. Mounjaro is a brand-name drug made by LILLY. There is currently no generic substitute for Mounjaro. Follow this link. Scroll down and click on the "Get Savings Card" button here.
This might leave you with one final question:
Determining the Best Diabetes or Weight Loss Drug for You
Since each of these drugs is prescription-only, you will need to work with your doctor to fully evaluate these medications. If you’re interested in using them for off-label weight maintenance, you’ll still need to consult with your physician and obtain a valid, current prescription.
Your doctor will take several factors into account when recommending a diabetes medication, including:
- Your overall health status. If you have conditions other than diabetes, such as a kidney issue or a cardiovascular challenge, those conditions will play a large part in deciding which drug is appropriate for you.
- Your other medications. Some medications interact unhelpfully – for example, canceling each other out or making them more potent than expected or advised. Your doctor will know which medications have unwanted interactions and recommend a medication accordingly.
- If you have diabetes, the type of diabetes you have. The medications discussed in this article are only for type 2 diabetes patients. Type 1 diabetes patients will require alternative treatment.
- Your goals and preferences. Are you interested in losing or maintaining weight? Do you prefer a daily oral pill like Rybelsus or a daily injection like Saxenda or would you rather take a once-weekly injection like Mounjaro or Wegovy? Are there some adverse side effects that are non-starters for you, and other potential risks that you find easier to manage? Read this article, as well as the other information pages we’ve provided for each medication. If you’re informed, you’ll be empowered to discuss your goals with your doctor and establish what you hope to achieve with your treatment.