- What is Ozempic (Semaglutide)?
- What is Tirzepatide (Mounjaro)?
- Is Tirzepatide in the same class as Ozempic?
- Tirzepatide vs Ozempic effectiveness
- Which is better for weight loss – Tirzepatide or Ozempic?
- Similarities and differences between Tirzepatide and Ozempic
- Is Tirzepatide stronger than Ozempic?
- Benefits of Tirzepatide vs Ozempic
- Which medication has fewer side effects?
- Which medication is cheaper?
- Can you take Tirzepatide and Ozempic together?
- Are there any natural alternatives to Tirzepatide and Ozempic?
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases and is estimated to impact over 6% of the world’s population.
With its increasing prevalence, the drive to develop more effective treatment methods has also grown.
While you’ve probably heard of insulin and older medications like metformin, you might have some questions about some of the newer medications on the market.
In this article, we’ll compare two of these newer medications, Tirzepatide vs Ozempic, head-to-head – one of which was just approved last year.
What is Ozempic (Semaglutide)?
Ozempic is a brand name for injectable semaglutide, a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. The United States Food and Drug Administration approved Ozempic in 2017.
It is in a class of medications called GLP-1 receptor agonists. The FDA approved Ozempic again in 2020 to reduce cardiovascular disease risk among patients with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The typical starting dose of Ozempic is 0.25 milligrams once weekly for four weeks, then 0.5 milligrams weekly for at least four weeks.
If blood sugar targets aren’t met with 0.5 milligrams weekly, the dose can gradually be increased to a maximum of 2 milligrams weekly.
What is Tirzepatide (Mounjaro)?
Tirzepatide is a very new drug that was just approved in 2022. Its brand name is Mounjaro, and it’s a dual GLP-1 receptor agonist and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP).
Tirzepatide is the first drug of its class and is awaiting approval to also be used as a weight loss drug to treat obesity.
Tirzepatide is available in several doses, including 2.5 milligrams, 5 milligrams, 7.5 milligrams, 10 milligrams, 12.5 milligrams, and 15 milligrams in a weekly injection.
Is Tirzepatide in the same class as Ozempic?
Tirzepatide is currently the only drug in its class called dual glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist.
This means that Tirzepatide works in two different ways – by activating GLP-1 receptors and GIP pathways.
Ozempic is in the GLP-1 receptor agonist medication class, so it works similarly to Tirzepatide without activating GIP pathways.
So what are GLP-1 receptors and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptides? Let’s break down how these two things impact blood glucose levels.
GLP-1 receptors are proteins found on the beta cells of your pancreas (the organ that makes insulin) as well as the neurons in your brain. They promote insulin secretion in response to high blood glucose levels.
GLP-1 receptor agonist medications stimulate these receptors to produce insulin when blood sugar levels are high, which helps to lower blood glucose.
GLP-1 receptor agonists also slow digestion, which can prevent blood sugar spikes after eating and promote satiety.
Glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP) is a hormone that is secreted in your small intestine.
When you eat, GIP stimulates insulin secretion in response to the rise in glucose, helping to lower your blood sugar levels after you eat. GIP also slows down digestion.
Tirzepatide activates not only GLP-1 receptors but also GIP, helping to lower blood sugar levels in two ways. In comparison, Ozempic only works by promoting the activation of GLP-1 receptors.
Tirzepatide vs Ozempic effectiveness
A 40-week study was done on patients with type 2 diabetes who were also taking metformin. The mean starting hemoglobin A1c was 8.3%.
Patients were given various doses of Tirzepatide, and here’s how they lowered blood sugar:
- 5 milligrams: 2% reduction in A1c
- 10 milligrams: 2.2% reduction in A1c
- 15 milligrams: 2.3% reduction in A1c
According to two different studies, here is how much Ozempic lowered A1c levels in adults (starting A1c of 8%):
- 0.5 milligrams weekly of Ozempic: 1.4% reduction in A1c
- 1 milligram weekly of Ozempic: 1.6% reduction in A1c
While also taking 1-2 additional diabetes medications (starting A1c was 8.9%):
- 1 milligram weekly of Ozempic: 1.9% reduction in A1c
- 2 milligrams weekly of Ozempic: 2.1% reduction in A1c
When comparing the studies that are most similar (the ones where patients were taking other diabetes medications), it appears that Tirzepatide might be slightly more effective in lowering A1c levels (2.3% reduction at the max dose of Tirzepatide compared to a 2.1% reduction at the max dose of Ozempic).
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Which is better for weight loss – Tirzepatide or Ozempic?
According to a 2022 study, here is how Tirzepatide affected the weight loss of participants after 72 weeks:
- 5 milligrams: 15% reduction in body weight
- 10 milligrams: 19.5% reduction in body weight
- 15 milligrams: nearly 21% reduction in body weight
After 52 weeks of treatment with Ozempic at 0.4 milligrams weekly, the mean weight loss was 13.8%. The maximum dose of Ozempic is 2 milligrams per week, so 0.4 milligrams is on the low end of the potential dosage range.
These studies suggest Tirzepatide may be more effective at promoting weight loss. However, individual results will vary.
Similarities and differences between Tirzepatide and Ozempic
- Recommended for people aged 18 and older
- Aren’t recommended during pregnancy or lactation
- Contain a GLP-1 receptor agonist as an active ingredient
- Once-weekly, injectable medications for type 2 diabetes
- Can result in weight loss in addition to lowering blood sugar levels
- Similar side effects
- Different drug classes (GLP-1 receptor agonist vs dual glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist)
- Ozempic is approved to reduce cardiovascular disease risk among patients with type 2 diabetes and heart disease, while Tirzepatide isn’t
Is Tirzepatide stronger than Ozempic?
Tirzepatide is a different type of medication and is available in higher doses than Ozempic. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “stronger,” especially since these two drugs aren’t in the same medication class.
Benefits of Tirzepatide vs Ozempic
Below, we discuss the benefits of both medications.
Benefits of Tirzepatide
- Tirzepatide might be more effective at lowering blood sugar levels vs Ozempic.
- It works to lower blood sugar in two different ways compared to one main method for Ozempic.
- Available in a broader range of dosages compared to Ozempic.
Benefits of Ozempic
- Has been around longer than Tirzepatide, so more is known about its safety/efficacy.
- Is also approved to lower CVD risk.
- May be covered by more insurance plans because it isn’t as new as Tirzepatide.
- Slightly less expensive than Tirzepatide when paying out-of-pocket.
Which medication has fewer side effects?
Tirzepatide side effects
The most commonly reported side effects of tirzepatide (mounjaro) include:
- Decreased appetite
- Stomach (abdominal) pain
More rarely, tirzepatide might lead to more serious health problems including:
- Thyroid carcinomas (tumors)
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Kidney problems
- Severe stomach problems
- Allergic reactions
- Changes in vision
- Gallbladder problems
Common side effects that can occur when taking Ozempic include:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms like upset stomach (nausea and vomiting), stomach pain, loss of appetite, heartburn, burping, gas, and bloating
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Injection site pain
Like Tirzepatide, Ozempic comes with a risk of more serious health problems, including thyroid tumors, pancreatitis, kidney problems, and gallbladder problems.
Which medication is cheaper?
According to GoodRx, here are the out-of-pocket estimates for both medications. (Keep in mind that your actual cost could vary depending on your insurance and/or prescription drug coverage.)
- Ozempic: One prefilled pen containing 2 milligrams of Ozempic (one month supply at 0.5 milligrams or one week supply at the max dose of 2 milligrams): around $900.
- Tirzepatide: A carton of four pens containing 2.5 milligrams each (one month’s supply at the lowest dose): around $1000
Can you take Tirzepatide and Ozempic together?
You shouldn’t take Tirzepatide and Ozempic together. Taking them together could result in more severe side effects and could increase your risk of rare complications.
You might be able to take other types of diabetes medications along with Tirzepatide and Ozempic (such as metformin), but you should check with your healthcare provider and pharmacist before doing so.
Are there any natural alternatives to Tirzepatide and Ozempic?
Prescription medications can effectively lower blood glucose levels and promote weight loss, but they come with potential side effects and risks.
Not everyone is a good candidate for natural alternatives to treat their diabetes, but some people can control their blood sugar with diet and natural treatment alone.
If you and your healthcare provider want to pursue a natural alternative instead of medications like Tirzepatide and Ozempic, here are some to consider.
You’ve probably heard of resveratrol in relation to red wine. Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in the skins of grapes and other foods, and has beneficial protective effects against cardiovascular disease.
According to a study, resveratrol acts as a natural GLP-1 receptor agonist, similar to how Tirzepatide and Ozempic work.
A 2020 meta-analysis of 36 randomized controlled trials concluded that resveratrol supplementation significantly reduced body weight, BMI, fat mass, and waist circumference, especially in obese patients.
Resveratrol can be taken in supplement form (typically capsules) and isn’t known to have many side effects, except in the case of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease when doses of 2.5 grams or more are taken.
One of the reasons drugs like Tirzepatide and Ozempic are becoming more popular is because of their potential to promote significant weight loss.
Berberine, a natural compound found in some plants, might help you lose weight and lower blood sugar levels without the risks of rare health issues that come with prescription drugs like Tirzepatide and Ozempic.
A pilot study compared berberine vs metformin (a popular oral medication used to treat diabetes) directly for their ability to help treat symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
The researchers found that berberine produced identical results as metformin in terms of improving blood glucose metabolism.
According to a small study on people with risk factors for type 2 diabetes, berberine improved insulin sensitivity and reduced the waist circumference of participants.
Berberine might also help promote weight loss by improving insulin resistance, the primary cause of type 2 diabetes.
It might seem too simple, but getting the right amount of sleep is vital for promoting normal glucose metabolism.
Sleep deprivation can make you more resistant to insulin, which can raise your blood sugar over time.
However, according to a study, getting too much sleep might also increase your risk of getting type 2 diabetes by increasing your blood sugar.
The sleep duration associated with the lowest risk of developing type 2 diabetes was 7-8 hours per night. The risk of diabetes increased with 6 hours of sleep and 9 hours of sleep per night.
If you have diabetes, getting adequate sleep is a great way to promote healthy blood sugar levels naturally, since sleep deprivation can cause stress on your body and therefore raise blood sugar.
Tirzepatide and Ozempic are in different medication classes but share the similarity of acting as GLP-1 receptor agonists.
Ozempic has been approved since 2017, while Tirzepatide was just approved in 2022.
Because they act in similar ways, both medications have similar side effects and potential risks.
When compared head-to-head, Tirzepatide may be more effective at promoting weight loss and lowering blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.