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What is Wegovy? Exploring the weight loss benefits, side effects, and cost

1 min Read

What you’ll learn: At Noom, we know full well that shedding unwanted pounds can be incredibly challenging. Sometimes even dieting and sweating it out at the gym just don’t cut it. If you’re part of the over 40% of Americans grappling with obesity, you might feel as though you’re unable to make progress. Enter Wegovy, […]

What you’ll learn:

  • Wegovy contains semaglutide, the same active ingredient that is in Ozempic. 
  • Wegovy is FDA-approved for weight loss in people who meet certain criteria combined with a reduced-calorie diet and increased exercise.
  • People who combine Wegovy with diet and exercise have experienced significant weight loss versus lifestyle changes alone.

At Noom, we know full well that shedding unwanted pounds can be incredibly challenging. Sometimes even dieting and sweating it out at the gym just don’t cut it. If you’re part of the over 40% of Americans grappling with obesity, you might feel as though you’re unable to make progress.

Enter Wegovy, a relatively recent addition to the evolving world of weight loss drugs. While Wegovy’s flashier sibling, Ozempic frequently steals the spotlight, both medications share the same active ingredient, semaglutide. This means they can both lead to weight loss and help control blood sugar. 

However, the big difference is that Wegovy is FDA-approved for weight management, while Ozempic is approved to treat type 2 diabetes. (It can only be prescribed off-label for weight loss.) This distinction makes Wegovy unique in a few important ways we’ll go into. 

Let’s unpack what makes Wegovy work and its potential upsides and downsides before you ask your doctor if it might be right for you.

What is Wegovy and how does it work for weight loss?

Wegovy is an injectable medication that can be prescribed for weight management in certain cases. Like Ozempic, it acts like a naturally occurring hormone in your body called GLP-1. GLP-1 helps regulate appetite, essentially telling your body it’s full and it’s time to stop eating. By mimicking the effects of GLP-1, Wegovy does the following:

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  1. Curbs appetite: Wegovy acts on the brain and stomach to decrease feelings of hunger and increase feelings of fullness.
  2. Slows down digestion: It slows down how quickly your stomach empties, helping you feel full for longer periods after meals.

How is Wegovy taken?

Taking Wegovy is pretty straightforward—it’s a once-a-week injection. You receive pre-filled pen injectors that you’ll use to give yourself a quick shot under the skin. It could be in your stomach area, thigh, or upper arm—just rotate those injection spots each week to avoid any skin irritation.

The best part is that you don’t have to worry about mixing anything or measuring doses. The pen has your full weekly dose locked and loaded. Your doctor will start you on the lowest dose to minimize side effects and slowly increase it over a few months based on your response until you reach the maximum dose. 

Just one heads up—those pens need to stay refrigerated until you’re ready to use them.

How effective is Wegovy for weight loss?

Very! The active ingredient in Wegovy, semaglutide, has been extensively studied for its weight loss benefits. In a 104-week study involving nearly 300 adults, semaglutide, combined with diet and exercise, led to an average weight loss of a little over 15% of body weight versus just 2.6% for the placebo group. 

Pause for a moment. Did you notice that the study combined Wegovy with diet and exercise changes? That’s because the most effective way to lose weight while on Wegovy and similar GLP-1 medications, is to pair it with healthy lifestyle changes. Noom can help you successfully establish these changes and maximize your potential weight loss. In fact, people who used GLP-1 medications with Noom saw six times more weight loss than those who used the medication on its own. How amazing is that?

What’s the difference between Wegovy and Ozempic?

By now, you know that Wegovy and Ozempic are similar since they share the same active ingredient, semaglutide. However, you’re probably wondering how they differ from each other. There are four key points:

  • Cost: The list price for a month’s supply of Ozempic is $935, while for Wegovy it is $1,350. On the surface, it looks like Ozempic is cheaper, but your final cost will depend on what your insurance will cover. Keep in mind that since Wegovy is FDA-approved for weight loss it is more likely to be covered by health insurance for weight management, though this is still rare.
  • Dosage: Both medications start at a 0.25 mg weekly dosage, but Wegovy’s maximum dosage is 2.4 mg, while Ozempic’s is 2.0 mg. 
  • Weight loss efficacy: Wegovy and Ozempic will have the same efficacy at similar doses. Though, as noted, Wegovy can be prescribed at high doses.
  • Side effects: Wegovy and Ozempic share the same side effects, though they are presented differently in the official FDA documents.

Does Wegovy do anything else besides help with appetite?

Yes! As a GLP-1 receptor agonist, Wegovy also helps your body manage blood sugar levels. This is the reason that Ozempic, with the same active ingredient as Wegovy, is prescribed for type 2 diabetes.

In addition to managing weight loss, Wegovy is also approved to help reduce serious heart problems in adults with obesity.

How do I reduce the cost of Wegovy?

We know the $1,350 cost of Wegovy can be a huge concern for many people. But don’t take it off the table immediately because of sticker shock. The true price can vary significantly depending on your insurance coverage and location. 

If you qualify, Noom Med can pair you with a clinician who can decide if Wegovy is right for you. They will also help you find the best price. Plus, some insurance plans may cover Wegovy if it is prescribed for one of the following reasons: 

  1. Chronic weight management in adults with a BMI ≥30, a BMI ≥27)with at least one weight-related condition. Find out what your BMI is here
  2. Reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke in adults with obesity or overweight and established cardiovascular disease.

How can I get Wegovy at a reduced price if my insurance doesn’t cover it?

The Wegovy savings card is a program offered by the manufacturer to help people reduce the out-of-pocket cost of the medication. For more information and eligibility requirements, visit the Wegovy savings card page on the NovoCare website.

Another cost-saving tip: Pharmacies sometimes offer discounts and have a discount search on their website. Here’s one example from CVS

Again, Noom Med can help you figure all of this out, or perhaps decide if there’s a different medication that might work for you. To learn more about how Wegovy compares to other weight loss medications, check out our article on how GLP-1 receptor agonists work for weight loss.

Wegovy side effects and safety considerations

Wegovy has been great at helping people lose weight, but it does come with side effects and other safety issues. Let’s go over those and talk about how Noom can support you if you run into any speed bumps while taking it.

What are the common side effects of taking Wegovy?

Most people experience mild side effects that typically fade over time. These can include:

  • Nausea: This is the most frequently reported side effect and was reported as mild or moderate.
  • Diarrhea: Loose or frequent stools can occur as your digestive system adapts to the medication.
  • Vomiting: Some people may experience vomiting, especially when first starting the medication.
  • Constipation: GLP-1 receptor agonists may slow down digestion, leading to constipation.
  • Abdominal pain: About 20% of people reported discomfort or pain around their stomach.

These are the most common side effects of Wegovy, but a full list of all side effects can be found on the official Wegovy page. Note: The expected side effects are also dose-dependent. The reported side effects on the official Wegovy page are for the maximum dose of 2.4 mg.

How can Noom help manage Wegovy’s side effects?

While this list seems daunting, some of these side effects can typically be managed. If you use Noom Med, our team of healthcare professionals can help you manage them by providing personalized guidance on lifestyle adjustments and other remedies. 

If you have already been prescribed Wegovy or another weight loss medication, use the GLP-1 Companion to track and manage side effects. The companion can also help you find ways to increase your protein intake to avoid the potential muscle loss that often comes with losing lots of weight. Bonus: most of the healthy switches you make will also help keep lost weight off long-term. 

At Noom, we understand that weight loss is not just a physical journey; it’s an emotional one, too. Our coaches are trained to provide support for both the physical and emotional challenges you might face. 

What are some warnings and precautions to consider before taking Wegovy?

Wegovy carries warnings about some rare but serious conditions. If you think you are experiencing any of these issues, reach out to your doctor immediately:

Side effectWhat to watch out forFrequency
PancreatitisSymptoms include severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomitingRare
Gallstones, inflammation, or infection of the gallbladder.Symptoms include pain in the upper right abdomen, nausea, vomiting, and fever.Rare
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)Symptoms include shakiness, sweating, dizziness, confusion, and, in severe cases, seizures or loss of consciousness.Rare
Kidney problemsSymptoms may include decreased urination, swelling in the ankles or legs, fatigue, and shortness of breath.Rare
Allergic reactionsA rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.Rare
Suicidal behavior and ideationThoughts of suicide or harming yourself.Rare
Vision changesBlurry vision or vision changesRare
Increased heart rateRacing heart or increased pulse. Rare
Thyroid tumors or cancerUnusual lumps or swelling in the neck.Very Rare

Are there any health issues that might make Wegovy unsuitable for me?

Now that you know about Wegovy’s side effects, you might be thinking: “What if I already have a health condition?” That’s a great question! 

While Wegovy can be super helpful, certain pre-existing conditions might mean it’s not the right medication for you. Here are some conditions to discuss with your doctor: 

  • Type 1 diabetes:  Wegovy is not for treating type 1 diabetes. It’s important to use the right medication for your specific type of diabetes.
  • Thyroid cancer: If you or a family member have a history of a specific type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or a related condition called MEN 2, Wegovy isn’t the right choice. There’s a small potential risk of this type of cancer with Wegovy use.
  • Allergies: If you’re allergic to semaglutide, the main ingredient in Wegovy, you shouldn’t use it.
  • Stomach or gut problems: Wegovy can sometimes cause issues like pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or make existing problems like gallbladder disease worse.
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding: The use of semaglutide (Wegovy) during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not recommended or advised by doctors due to potential harm to the fetus.
  • Trying to conceive: Stop using Wegovy at least two months before you plan to become pregnant since it may harm your unborn baby.
  • Pancreas problems: A potential side effect is an inflamed pancreas (pancreatitis), so Wegovy is not recommended if you’ve had pancreatic issues previously.
  • Kidney or liver problems: If you’ve experienced issues with your kidneys or liver, Wegovy might need to be used cautiously or even avoided.
  • Eye problems (diabetic retinopathy): Wegovy can sometimes worsen a diabetes-related eye condition called diabetic retinopathy.
  • Mental health: If you have a history of depression or thoughts of self-harm, talk to your doctor. Wegovy should be avoided in patients with a history of suicidal attempts or active suicidal ideation.
  • Gallbladder problems: Wegovy can slightly increase the risk of gallbladder problems, so your doctor will likely keep a close eye on you if you have a history of these issues.

Regular check-ins with your doctor are key to monitoring your health and catching any potential problems early on. Your well-being is our top concern, so we encourage you to talk to your doctor or Noom’s healthcare team about any questions or worries you might have about Wegovy.

Noom’s role in your weight loss journey

While Wegovy could help make your weight loss goals a reality, it’s only one tool that you’ll use to reach your health goals. At Noom, we understand that true transformation goes beyond numbers on a scale. That’s why our Noom Med and GLP-1 Companion programs combine the power of Wegovy with personalized guidance, expert coaching, and a supportive community to help you achieve lasting results. 

Note: Ozempic is not FDA-approved to treat obesity or for weight loss.