Ozempic versus Wegovy

What is the difference between Ozempic and Wegovy?
Habitual Team
min read
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Quick summary

Ozempic and Wegovy both contain a compound called semaglutide, but Ozempic is licensed for use in people with type 2 diabetes whereas Wegovy is licensed for weight loss. Wegovy is also available at higher strengths than Ozempic, which can lead to higher levels of weight loss.

Two drugs are largely dominating the conversation around weight loss—Ozempic and Wegovy

Both contain the compound semaglutide—in fact, the liquid inside Ozempic and Wegovy pens is the exact same, apart from some dosage differences in higher strengths of Wegovy. Both are manufactured by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. And yet they are sold and marketed as different drugs, leading many to ask—what is the difference between Ozempic and Wegovy?

Here, we’ll break down the key comparison points for Ozempic and Wegovy, including what they actually contain, which type of patient each is prescribed for, dosage, cost, and accessibility. 

A recap on semaglutide, the compound in Ozempic and Wegovy

When outlining the differences between Ozempic and Wegovy, it’s worth underlining that both medications contain the exact same compound, called semaglutide. Even the tablet form, called Rybelsus, contains semaglutide. Between Ozempic and Wegovy, the liquid inside the two pens is pretty much identical, apart from dosage differences. To quickly recap what semaglutide is and how it works:

  • Semaglutide is one of a class of medications called GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) receptor agonists
  • It mimics a naturally occurring gut hormone called incretin, which is naturally released after you have eaten
  • This has a number of effects including: increasing your insulin response and raising concentration of glucose and fatty acids in the bloodstream [1]; slowing down the food leaving your gut, meaning that you stay fuller for longer [2]; decreasing the perceived “reward” of eating [3]

The outcome is a decreased feeling of hunger, meaning many patients eat less and have fewer cravings, which is why it's such an effective treatment for weight loss.

Ozempic vs Wegovy: What is the difference?

To understand each drug, you need to know what it contains and how you take it. 

Both come as a pre-prepared injection pen which you take on a weekly basis. Both medications come as multi-use pens, containing four doses which will last you a month.

As outlined, both Ozempic and Wegovy contain semaglutide. For both, you tend to start with a lower concentration and build up your dosage from there as you get further along the course of medication. 

With Ozempic, you’ll start with a 0.25mg injection for the first four weeks before moving up to a 0.5mg injection for at least four weeks more[4]. This may then be increased to 1mg. As Ozempic is indicated for the treatment of high blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, the decision whether or not to increase your dosage may depend on your doctor's analysis of your blood sugar control.

Wegovy similarly starts low, at 0.25mg for weeks 1 to 4, then 0.5mg for weeks 5 to 8, then 1mg for weeks 9 to 12, 1.7mg for weeks 13 to 17, then remaining at 2.4mg (the maximum concentration) from then onwards. [5]

With both medications, side effects tend to increase alongside dosage escalation, and there's no rule that says you must increase each month. The decision to do so should be made jointly between yourself and your prescriber based on what you're experiencing whilst on the medication.

Ozempic vs Wegovy: who are they for?

There are some nuances worth considering when understanding which sort of patient Ozempic and Wegovy are for. 

Ozempic was originally only prescribed for patients with type 2 diabetes. It is also approved for cardiovascular risk reduction in adults with type 2 diabetes and established cardiovascular disease. [6]

Wegovy, meanwhile, is the same drug marketed under a different name, and is licensed for patients with obesity (BMI of 30+) or overweight (with a BMI of 27+) with one or more weight-related health issues such as hypertension or PCOS.

This may be a bit confusing, as Ozempic was the medication that gained tons of attention as a result of celebrities using it for weight loss, not the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Anyone using Ozempic for weight loss would have received an “off-label” prescription, meaning it was prescribed for a purpose (weight loss) other than that its originally licensed use (type 2 diabetes). This was common practice before Wegovy was available, and when there were shortages of Wegovy. In the UK, Wegovy is now available, and so anyone seeking weight loss treatment should receive a Wegovy (not Ozempic) prescription.

Who can access Ozempic and Wegovy?

Some people with a clinical diagnosis may be able to access Ozempic through an NHS doctor’s prescription. In the UK, Ozempic is already available on prescription through the NHS for some people who have a diagnosis for type 2 diabetes. Even if you do have type 2 diabetes, however, you won’t necessarily be able to access it via the NHS, as treatment is only available to those to whom the following applies [7]:

  • When your type 2 diabetes is insufficiently controlled
  • When metformin is considered due to intolerance or contraindications (when the alternative outcome may be harmful)
  • Or when used alongside other medicinal products

Wegovy is available on the NHS for a limited number of patients. Initially, the NHS will be offering Wegovy to about 35,000 patients annually as part of a specialist two-year weight management programme [8].

As availability through the NHS is so limited, most patients will access Ozempic or Wegovy through a private prescription. You can see a private doctor in-person and then get your prescription filled through a pharmacy, or use an online service like Habitual to do your consultation and pay online, then receive your medication straight to your doorstep.

How does the cost of Ozempic compare to Wegovy?

The cost of Ozempic and the cost of Wegovy can vary greatly depending on where you buy it. In the UK, if you are getting a prescription from the NHS for Ozempic (or in the near future, Wegovy), you’ll only have to pay the NHS prescription cost (at time of writing, £9.65 per item). 

Those looking to buy Ozempic or Wegovy privately will pay more, as you’ll need to pay both the cost of the medication as well as for the prescription from a licensed prescriber. You’ve got a number of choices around where to buy these medications. You can get a prescription through a private doctor, although bear in mind the cost of getting a doctor’s appointment/assessment. In the UK, you can order Ozempic directly through online pharmacies too—though do note you will still need a prescription, which not all online pharmacies provide. 

There are also digital health platforms like Habitual who prescribe medications alongside digital support. Learn more about our prescription weight loss medications plans here

Wegovy is here! Start your free assessment

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Deciding between Ozempic and Wegovy comes down to a number of factors, from individual choices around suitability, to factors around cost and availability. While they each have their differences, they can both be a huge asset in helping you achieve and maintain your weight loss goals.

If you still have any uncertainty, you can check out our free assessment now to see if Ozempic is right for you.


[1] Kapitza, C., Dahl, K., Jacobsen, J., et al. (2017). Effects of semaglutide on beta cell function and glycaemic control in participants with type 2 diabetes: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Diabetologia, 60(8): 1390–1399. Accessible here

[2] Friedrichsen, M., Breitschaft, A., Tadayon, S., et al (2020). The effect of semaglutide 2.4 mg once weekly on energy intake, appetite, control of eating, and gastric emptying in adults with obesity, Diabetes Obes Metab, 23(3), 754-762. Accessible here

[3] Blundell, J., Finlayson, G., Axelson, M., et al (2017). Effects of once‐weekly semaglutide on appetite, energy intake, control of eating, food preference and body weight in subjects with obesity, Diabetes Obes Metab, 19(9): 1242–1251. Accessible here

[4] Ozempic dosing. Ozempic, retrieved April 21st 2023. Accessible here

[5] Wegovy dosing schedule for adults. Wegovy, retrieved April 21st 2023. Accessible here

[6] After 2 years, Ozempic significantly reduced the risk of potentially life-altering CV events (MACE). NovoMedlink, retrieved April 21st 2023. Accessible here

[7] Semaglutide (Ozempic) Prescribing Information Sheet. NHS, November 2020. Accessible here

[8] Ozempic-style weight loss jab to be available on NHS. The Times, March 8th 2023. Accessible here

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