Starting a new medication is never easy, but for many patients with chronic illnesses, new medications are a way of life. As health conditions change over time, they need to be treated in responsive and proactive ways. New drugs are constantly being researched, approved, and coming to market.
If you live with Type 2 Diabetes, a chronic illness that involves insulin resistance and resulting high blood sugar levels, you’re likely already aware of the huge selection of prescription drugs available to treat it. Perhaps you’ve already tried some of them over the years.
If you’ve recently been hearing a lot of buzz about Ozempic, you’re not alone. But what exactly is Ozempic, and how does it measure up to Trulicity, another popular Type 2 Diabetes medication?
In this post, we’ll provide an overview of both medications and highlight the similarities and differences between them. Broadly speaking, Ozempic and Trulicity have a lot in common. Yet it’s sometimes the smallest details that can make the biggest impact when your health is on the line.
The information below is intended to help you consider your options, but it’s never intended to constitute or replace medical advice. Only your doctor or healthcare provider can consult with you to determine whether or not Trulicity or Ozempic may be the right choice.
What Is Ozempic?
Ozempic is a prescription medication manufactured by Novo Nordisk that was approved by the FDA in 2017 to help lower blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 Diabetes. In 2020, the FDA also approved Ozempic for reducing the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in patients with Type 2 Diabetes and established heart disease. Ozempic is most effective when used as an adjunct to exercise and a healthy diet.
Ozempic’s active ingredient is semaglutide.
Ozempic is an injectable medication that’s taken once per week. It comes in single-patient-use, pre-filled pens and is injected subcutaneously into the thigh, upper arm, or abdomen in rotation.
Ozempic must be stored in the refrigerator until it’s opened, at which point it can be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature until its expiry date. Expired or used Ozempic pens should be safely disposed of in a sharps container.
Ozempic comes in multi-dose injection pens and may be prescribed in the following doses:
Patients start Ozempic at a low, non-therapeutic dose and gradually build up to higher doses over a series of weeks or months. This allows the body to adjust and can reduce the severity of side effects (most commonly gastrointestinal issues).
Ozempic’s starting dose is 0.25 mg, which is taken for four weeks before being increased to 0.5 mg for four weeks. At the end of eight weeks, the need for further dose increases is assessed by a doctor.
What Is Trulicity?
Trulicity is a prescription medication manufactured by Eli Lilly that was approved by the FDA in 2014 to help lower blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 Diabetes. In 2020, the FDA also approved Trulicity for reducing the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in patients with Type 2 Diabetes and established heart disease or multiple risk factors for heart disease (smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity). Trulicity’s impact is greatest when it’s taken in combination with healthy lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.
Trulicity’s active ingredient is dulaglutide.
Like Ozempic, Trulicity is an injectable medication that’s taken once per week via subcutaneous injection. It comes in single-dose, single-patient-use pens and must be refrigerated before use. After use or if expired, Trulicity pens should be properly disposed of in a sharps container.
Trulicity comes in single-dose injection pens and may be prescribed in the following doses:
- 0.75 mg
- 1.5 mg
- 3 mg
- 4.5 mg
Trulicity’s dosing schedule is similar to Ozempic’s. Patients typically start at the lowest dose for four weeks and then the dosage is increased at four week intervals as needed, under the advice of a medical professional.
See also: Trulicity vs Mounjaro
Trulicity Vs. Ozempic: Main Differences
- Active Ingredient – Ozempic’s active ingredient is semaglutide; Trulicity’s active ingredient is dulaglutide.
- Indication – Both drugs treat Type 2 Diabetes in adults and related cardiovascular disease; Trulicity is also indicated for adults who have multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
- Dosage – Ozempic’s dosage ranges from 0.25 mg – 2 mg in multi-dose pens; Trulicity’s dosage ranges from 0.75 mg – 4.5 mg in single-dose pens.
How Do Trulicity and Ozempic Work?
Ozempic and Trulicity both belong to the class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. Medications in this class are designed to imitate an incretin hormone called GLP-1 that’s produced in the human gut in response to food.
Ozempic and Trulicity both operate by binding to GLP-1 receptors in the body and triggering physiological responses that are normally only triggered when digestion is underway. Such responses include stimulating the release of insulin and reducing the amount of glucose released into the bloodstream. Both drugs also reduce appetite by signaling multiple body systems that digestion is underway. They slow down gastric emptying and the rate at which food moves through the digestive tract, which increases feelings of satiety, reduces cravings, and helps patients feel fuller for longer.
Are Ozempic and Trulicity Equally Effective?
Ozempic and Trulicity are both effective and trusted treatment options for Type 2 Diabetes, but a 2016 clinical trial that compared them head-to-head found Ozempic to be superior in improving glycemic control.
After 40 weeks, 51% of patients on a 0.75 mg dose of Trulicity and 63% of patients on a 1.5 mg dose of Trulicity had achieved A1C levels of less than 7%. In comparison, 65% of patients on a 0.5 mg dose of Ozempic and 73% of patients on a 1 mg dose of Ozempic achieved the same results.
Can Ozempic and Trulicity Be Used for Weight Loss?
Neither Ozempic nor Trulicity is officially approved for weight loss purposes, but both medications can promote healthy weight loss in many patients when taken as indicated and in combination with regular exercise and a healthy, calorie-deficient diet. Some medical professionals may prescribe Ozempic or Trulicity off-label for weight loss, even in patients without Type 2 Diabetes, but this isn’t the standard use of either drug.
If you’re specifically seeking a weight loss drug that’s similar to Ozempic and Trulicity, Wegovy (produced by Novo Nordisk) is the first GLP-1 receptor agonist medication to be FDA-approved for weight loss. It’s essentially the same as Ozempic but at a higher dosage (2.4 mg) and is indicated for use in adults who are obese (BMI over 30) or overweight (BMI over 27) and suffering from at least one weight-related health condition. It can also be used by teens over the age of 12 who suffer from obesity.
Which Drug Is Better for Weight Loss?
In the same head-to-head study referenced above (SUSTAIN 7), Ozempic was found to outperform Trulicity in terms of weight loss. Patients taking 0.75 mg of Trulicity lost an average of 4.6 lbs. over 40 weeks, while those taking 1.5 mg lost an average of 6.2 lbs. In contrast, patients taking 0.5 mg of Ozempic lost an average of 9.3 lbs. in the same time frame, and those taking 1 mg lost an average of 12.8 lbs.
Ozempic Vs. Other Drugs
Ozempic has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its efficacy, simple once-weekly injection, and reputation for facilitating healthy weight loss. To learn more about how Ozempic might stack up against other treatments, have a discussion with your physician. You can also look at some of Bisonpharmacy’s other posts comparing Ozempic to other medications:
Trulicity and Ozempic Side Effects
Like any prescription medication, Ozempic and Trulicity come with the risk of potential side effects. Because the drugs are very similar, their side effects are as well.
Stomach-related side effects are by far the most common for both drugs. Often, these resolve over time but, in some cases, are troublesome enough for patients to discontinue use of the drugs altogether. They can include:
- Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, constipation, and indigestion
- Other common mild side effects can include headaches, dizziness, and fatigue
More serious side effects are rare but can include severe allergic reactions, pancreatitis, eye problems, kidney injury, gallbladder problems, and severe low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
Both Trulicity and Ozempic have an FDA-boxed warning regarding the potential development of thyroid C-cell tumors.
Do I need a prescription for Ozempic and Trulicity?
Yes. Both Trulicity and Ozempic are only available with a prescription from a certified medical doctor.
Can I take Ozempic or Trulicity if I don’t have Type 2 Diabetes?
Ozempic and Trulicity are only indicated for patients with Type 2 Diabetes. If your doctor prescribes you either of these drugs for other purposes, that is considered an off-label prescription.
How long do I need to take Ozempic or Trulicity for?
Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic disease, and Ozempic and Trulicity are both medications that are meant to be taken for the long term.
How much do Ozempic and Trulicity cost?
The average cost of one month’s supply of Ozempic in the U.S. ranges from about $800 to $1,300. The average cost of one month’s supply of Trulicity in the U.S. is similar. You may be able to significantly decrease your costs if your insurance covers these medications.
Trulicity and Ozempic are both effective treatment options for lowering blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 Diabetes. Though they’re similar in many ways, they contain different active ingredients and are indicated for slightly different purposes.
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