Semaglutide-containing drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy may be better for weight loss than a similar drug, dulaglutide. In this post, we want to explore why that is to help you decide between dulaglutide vs. semaglutide.
If you ultimately decide that semaglutide is right for you, stick around until the end to learn where to access semaglutide in NZ if the drug is sold out in your region.
Dulaglutide is a type 2 diabetes treatment sold under the brand name Trulicity. In combination with a healthy diet and exercise, this drug can improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Doctors prescribe dulaglutide to patients over the age of 10, many of whom have tried other diabetes medications that never worked or stopped working. Patients administer dulaglutide injections once weekly.
This medication functions as a GLP-1 receptor agonist. In people with type 2 diabetes, it increases insulin release and stimulates incretin hormone activity. A secondary effect is slower gastric emptying, making you feel fuller longer.
Some people use dulaglutide for weight loss, though it has not been approved for this purpose. Dulaglutide may also cause weight loss as a side effect in type 2 diabetes patients.
On average, studies have shown that people using this medication for diabetes lose two to six pounds. Importantly, 15% to 30% of patients using dulaglutide gain weight.
People who are more likely to experience weight loss on this medication include individuals who are overweight or who experience prolonged common side effects of dulaglutide.
We mentioned that you are more likely to lose weight if you experience a longer duration of dulaglutide’s most common side effects. Dulaglutide’s most common side effects impact the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and include:
Dulaglutide also presents the risk of rare but more serious side effects. Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you experience symptoms of pancreatitis, thyroid tumors, low blood sugar, or kidney problems while using dulaglutide.
Semaglutide is a treatment for people with type 2 diabetes or those who are overweight or obese. It comes in three brand names, each with a different patient population: Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus.
Like dulaglutide, these medications are designed for use with a healthy diet and exercise. Ozempic and Rybelsus are prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes. Wegovy is an injection approved for weight loss in certain patients.
Semaglutide medications are GLP-1 agonists. They work similarly to dulaglutide, increasing levels of insulin and glucagon, an incretin hormone. The drugs also slow gastric emptying, which promotes fullness and weight loss.
Semaglutide can be used for weight loss. Ozempic and Rybelsus may cause weight loss as a side effect, but that is not their main action. Wygovy, on the other hand, is approved for weight loss in certain patients.
People with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30kg/m² may lose weight on Wegovy combined with diet and exercise. People with BMIs of 27 kg/m² and diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol may also lose weight on Wegovy.
Some use Ozempic for off-label purposes. People with BMIs below those listed above, who don’t have type 2 diabetes, or both use semaglutide for weight loss.
Semaglutide comes with some mild, common side effects and some more severe but rare side effects. The most common side effects people experience while using semaglutide medications are:
Rare but serious side effects include vision changes, suicidal ideation, a racing heart, and lightheadedness. Symptoms of a thyroid tumor, pancreatitis, gallbladder issues, kidney problems, and the stomach flu are also possible.
Dulaglutide and semaglutide have similar active ingredients, uses, and mechanisms of action. Trulicity, Wegovy, and Ozempic also share in common that they are injectables, though Rybelsus comes in oral tablet form.
However, this is about where their similarities end. Studies investigating these medications’ effects on weight loss, specifically, have shown important differences, including the following.
Ozempic, Wegovy, and Trulicity are all once-weekly injectable medications. However, semaglutide is more potent. The weekly semaglutide dosage is smaller than the weekly dulaglutide dosage.
A recent meta-analysis found that 2 mg of semaglutide was more effective for weight loss than 3 mg or 4.5 mg of dulaglutide.
This difference comes down to the distinct structures of dulaglutide and semaglutide. The latter is more similar to GLP-1 and has a longer half-life, or the time it takes the body to break down half of a substance.
Even though semaglutide requires a smaller weekly dose, it has been more effective for weight loss in clinical trials.
For example, a 2021 indirect comparison study examined the effectiveness of 1 mg of semaglutide and 3 or 4.5 mg of dulaglutide for weight loss and blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Regarding body weight, semaglutide (1 mg) led to an average reduction of 5.8 pounds. Dulaglutide only led to an average of 4.3 pounds lost, a significant difference.
You may recall that we mentioned how people who experience long-term GI side effects are more likely to lose weight on dulaglutide. The same does not seem to be true of semaglutide.
A 2020 study investigated how much nausea and vomiting contribute to weight loss from semaglutide compared to other GLP-1 agonists.
The study results showed that these side effects have little to no impact on semaglutide’s superior impact on weight loss. That may mean semaglutide is effective for a larger group of people wanting to lose weight.
If you are trying to decide between semaglutide and dulaglutide for weight loss, this guide can help. Semaglutide has outperformed dulaglutide for weight loss, requires a lower dose, and may be effective for more people.
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