Zepbound vs Wegovy: What’s the difference?

A new weight loss drug, Zepbound, has recently been approved. So how does it compare to Wegovy?
Simon Lovick
1/24/2024
5
min read
Checked by
1/24/2024
Share
Share

Quick summary

There is a new popular weight loss drug hitting the shelves—Zepbound. Zepbound is a brand name for tirzepatide, one of several categories of medication that has recently boomed in popularity.

Having just received FDA approval, Zepbound is looking to capture the market in the same way that drugs like Wegovy have over the last few years. 

So what is the difference between Zepbound and Wegovy? Here we weigh up the similarities and differences between the two weight loss drugs, and everything you need to know if you are deciding between them.

Zepbound vs Wegovy: What is the difference?

The key difference between Zepbound and Wegovy is what they are actually made of. 

Zepbound is the brand name for a drug called tirzepatide. Tirzepatide is a dual glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and GLP-1. GLP-1s and GIP both increase the production of insulin, helping manage your blood sugar levels. 

You may have heard of tirzepatide under its more popular brand name, Mounjaro. Both are manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, and are fairly identical when it comes to dosage and strength. 

Wegovy, on the other hand, is the brand name for semaglutide. Semaglutide is only a GLP-1, which works by mimicking a naturally occurring gut hormone called incretin, which is naturally released after you have eaten. This not only manages the release of insulin to manage blood sugar levels, but also slows down the movement of food through your gut, leaving you feeling fuller for longer. 

Who are they for?

While GLP-1s had traditionally been designed as medication for patients with type 2 diabetes, they have quickly gained popularity for their impact on weight loss. 

As such, both Zepbound and Wegovy are marketed towards and prescribed to patients who are obese (with a BMI of 30+) or overweight (with a BMI of 27+) with weight related chronic health issues such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, or type 2 diabetes.

Wegovy is here! - Start your free assessment

Complete the assessment and purchase your plan

Zepbound vs Wegovy: Which is more effective?

Given they are both medications for weight loss, it's only natural to wonder which is more effective when it comes to helping you lose weight.

Initial clinical trials show that Zepbound is highly effective. Patients taking the highest dose of tirzepatide (15mg) led to an average weight loss of 22.5% body weight [1].

Now, in a comparative study of tirzepatide and semaglutide, tirzepatide (Zepbound) is shown to be more effective when it comes to losing weight. A 2023 study found that tirzepatide resulted in a weight loss of 17.8%, compared to 12.4% for semaglutide [2]. 

What is the dosage for Zepbound and Wegovy?

Both Zepbound and Wegovy come as single-use injection pens that you take once a week. As with most weight loss drugs, they increase in titration (strength of dosage) over the duration of your course of medication. 

Wegovy has a gradual process for increasing titration. You start at 0.25mg for weeks 1 to 4, increasing to 0.5mg for weeks 5 to 8, up to 1mg for weeks 9 to 12, 1.7mg for weeks 13 to 17, then remaining at 2.4mg (the maximum concentration) from then onwards. [3]

Zepbound similarly suggests a gradual increase. For weeks 1 to 4 you start at 2.5mg, then increase up to 5mg. From that point, it is up to you and your doctor about how you increase your dosage—recommended to increase by 2.5mg increments up to 15mg, which is the maximum dose [4].

Where can you access Zepbound and Wegovy?

Your ability to get your hands on Zepbound and Wegovy depends largely on where you are based. 

Given how new Zepbound is to the market, it has not yet received wider roll out, and is therefore much harder to get hold of. It only received regulatory approval in November 2023. It is expected to be made available in the US by the end of 2023, and at some point in the near future in the UK. Whether it will be made available on the NHS remains to be seen.

Wegovy is much more widely available. It is available on the NHS, offered to those with obesity and related chronic health conditions as part of a specialist weight management service and prescribed alongside a reduced calorie diet and exercise programme. For those interested in faster access, you can get private prescriptions to Wegovy through digital health platforms like Habitual, where you can get a prescription to the drugs alongside a holistic support programme to help you lose weight. Explore more here.

Zepbound vs Wegovy: Cost

The cost of Zepbound and Wegovy depends largely on where you get your medication. For instance, Wegovy through an NHS prescription comes at a much lower cost—but with far longer waiting times.

Zepbound, when it hits the shelves, is expected to cost buyers in the ballpark of $1000 a month—although for many this may be covered by private insurance. 

Through Habitual, a monthly prescription for Wegovy costs £299, and comes with a full package of support including 1-2-1 medical advice, peer support Whatsapp groups, and more. 

Conclusion

There are many different factors and reasons to weigh up if you are choosing between Zepbound and Wegovy. Although Zepbound is initially indicated to be more effective than Wegovy, the latter is much more widely available and therefore easier to get a prescription for in the short term.

References

[1] Jastreboff, A,  Aronne, L., Ahmad, N, et al. Tirzepatide Once Weekly for the Treatment of Obesity, N Engl J Med 2022; 387:205-216. Accessible here

[2] Azuri, J., Hammerman, A., Alboalhasan, E., et al (2023). Tirzepatide versus semaglutide for weight loss in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A value for money analysis, Diabetes Obes Metab Apr 2023; 25(4):961-964. Accessible here

[3] Wegovy dosing schedule for adults. Wegovy, retrieved September 8th 2023. Accessible here

[4] Zepbound: Dosing, How to Use, www.zepbound.lilly.com, retrieved November 24th 2023. Accessible here 

Related articles