Written on May 22, 2023 by Lori Mulligan, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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There are many benefits of semaglutide, specifically for type 2 diabetics and for those who are obese or overweight with certain weight-related medical conditions.
Ozempic® is the brand name for a semaglutide injection up to 2 mg when it is used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Wegovy® is the brand name for a semaglutide injection up to 2.4 mg when it is used to treat adults with either obesity or who are overweight with a related medical condition such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
These two medicines have the same active ingredient, semaglutide, but are taken at different dosages, in different ways, for different reasons.
Let’s first consider some of the statistics regarding type 2 diabetes and obesity to appreciate the urgency to curb these conditions.
The following statistics underscore the need to address the negative consequences of diabetes and obesity, including pharmacological interventions.
Now, let’s take a look at what semaglutide is and then home in on Ozempic® and Wegovy®, which are taken in different ways for different reasons.
Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, or GLP-1 RA. It mimics the GLP-1 hormone, released in the gut in response to eating.
One role of GLP-1 is to prompt the body to produce more insulin, which reduces blood sugar.
GLP-1 also interacts with parts of the brain that suppress your appetite and signal you to feel full. Together with diet and exercise, it can cause significant weight loss — and a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease — in people who are obese or overweight.
Ozempic®, whose active ingredient is semaglutide, is a type 2 diabetes medication that is prescribed to manage blood glucose levels. It is not a medication for people who do not have diabetes or are only at risk of type 2 diabetes.
Ozempic® can be used with diet and exercise to treat adults whose type 2 diabetes is not satisfactorily controlled.
It can be used on its own in patients who cannot take metformin (another diabetes medicine). It can also be used as an "add-on" to other diabetes medicines. 
In patients with Type 2 diabetes, treatment with Ozempic® can lower HbA1c (hemoglobin A1c), which is a measure of blood sugar control.
While not indicated as a weight loss drug, some Type 2 diabetics who use Ozempic® lose weight because it :
Wegovy® is an under-the-skin semaglutide injection and is the first approved drug for chronic weight management in adults with general obesity or overweight since 2014.
Wegovy’s® safety and efficacy were studied in four 68-week trials. Three were randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, and one was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized withdrawal trial in which patients receiving Wegovy® either continued with the treatment or switched to a placebo.
More than 2,600 patients received Wegovy® for up to 68 weeks in these four studies, and more than 1,500 patients received a placebo.
The largest placebo-controlled trial enrolled adults without diabetes. The average age at the start of the trial was 46 years, and 74% of patients were female. The average body weight was 231 pounds (105 kg), and the average BMI was 38 kg/m2. Individuals who received Wegovy® lost an average of 12.4% of their initial body weight compared to individuals who received a placebo.
Another trial enrolled adults with type 2 diabetes. The average age was 55 years, and 51% were female. The average body weight was 220 pounds (100 kg), and the average BMI was 36 kg/m2. In this trial, individuals who received Wegovy® lost 6.2% of their initial body weight compared to those who received a placebo.
In obese patients with type 2 diabetes and heart failure, the use of once-weekly semaglutide was safe and clinically efficacious, improving health and functional status.
Results from a recent study of Wegovy® also showed promise to reduce heart disease.
Patients who took the diet drug Wegovy® for a year had a reduced risk of heart disease, suggesting there may be a positive impact on cardiovascular health.
However, the study had several significant limitations, such as the lack of a randomized clinical trial with a control group. Therefore, we cannot say with certainty that Wegovy® is responsible for positive cardiac improvements.
Stronger evidence on the impact of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists on heart failure is required.
It will be interesting to monitor the use of semaglutide over time to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity. So far, results are promising, but more research studies are necessary to measure safety and effectiveness over longer periods.
Everlywell's Weight Care+ program pairs GLP-1 prescriptions with regular clinician care, lab testing, and support for related conditions.