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What is Wegovy?
Updated on January 31, 2024
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Diet / Weight Loss
What is Wegovy?

Wegovy® is an FDA-approved weight loss drug. Its active ingredient is semaglutide, which is clinically proven to:

  • Reduce appetite and suppress hunger
  • Increase your feeling of fullness
  • Help you lose weight and keep it off

“Obesity remains to be a major risk factor for the development of heart attacks, stroke, and diabetes,” says our in-house medical expert, Dr. Rizza Mira on how obesity is usually resolved by medications like Wegovy.

You can buy Wegovy® in major pharmacies and local drug stores as a once-weekly semaglutide injection, although stocks may be limited in your area.

The single-use pen delivers a preset dose of semaglutide—0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 1.7 mg, or 2.4 mg—determined by your doctor.

Who Is Wegovy For?

Wegovy® is used in the chronic weight management of teenagers and adults struggling with weight problems. This includes:

  • Adults with obesity whose initial body weight is equivalent to a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more
  • Children and adolescents aged 12 and above with obesity and whose initial BMI is at the 95th percentile or more for their age and sex

Overweight adults with an initial BMI of 27 and above and at least one weight-related health condition—like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes—may also use Wegovy® to lose weight and prevent weight gain. 

“At the forefront of weight loss is still exercise, calorie deficit, and behavioral interventions,” says Dr. Mira, reminding everyone that medication shouldn’t be the only solution to obesity.

Do You Need a Prescription for Wegovy?

Yes. Wegovy® is a prescription medication for weight loss. Your doctor can prescribe it if they think you’re qualified to receive the treatment.

How Does Wegovy Work?

Wegovy® works by mimicking the effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a hormone naturally produced by your gut, pancreas, and nervous system.

It helps you lose weight by reducing your food intake and calorie consumption. Wegovy does this in two ways:

  • It slows the movement of food in your stomach, which helps you feel full for longer periods.1 This can make you eat fewer meals or snacks per day.
  • It influences areas of your brain that regulate appetite so you don’t feel as hungry, especially after eating.2

How Effective is Wegovy for Weight Loss?

Wegovy® is an effective weight loss drug treatment. Obese and overweight adults who take Wegovy® may lose up to 35 lbs of body weight after 68 weeks.3

These findings are based on a clinical trial involving 1,961 adults with an average starting weight of 232 lbs.

The adults were either obese (BMI of 30 or more) or overweight (BMI of 27 or more) and had one weight-related health problem.

Participants were given either Wegovy® or placebo and were instructed to follow a plan consisting of a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.

After 68 weeks of treatment, adults who received Wegovy® lost an average of 35 lbs or about 15 percent of their initial weight.3

Below is a more detailed breakdown of the study’s findings:3

  • 1,628 (83%) people who took Wegovy® lost 5 percent or more of their weight compared to 608 (31%) people who got a placebo.
  • 1,294 (66%) people who took Wegovy® lost 10 percent or more of their weight compared to only 235 (12%) people on a placebo.
  • 941 (48%) people who took Wegovy® lost 15 percent or more of their weight compared to just 98 (5%) people who received a placebo.

How Long Does It Take Wegovy to Work?

Most people who take Wegovy® begin to lose weight in the fifth month of treatment once their weekly dose is at 2.4 mg.

This is because Wegovy® takes time to build up and reach its full maintenance dose, or the dosage needed by a drug to deliver its expected results.

“In the study cited above, patients also have sustained weight loss over 2 years. This offers the benefit of chronic weight management,” says Dr. Mira.

What to Know Before Starting Wegovy

Before you start taking Wegovy®, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Wegovy is used with a healthy lifestyle

When taking Wegovy® to lose weight, you should increase your physical activity and follow a meal plan that consists of fewer calories than you normally eat.

Eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise will help you lose excess weight while on Wegovy® treatment.

2. Wegovy may cause side effects

Wegovy’s side effects usually happen as your body adjusts to the medication. They are considered normal and expected reactions to the treatment.

Some common side effects of Wegovy® include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Stomach upset
  • Gas
  • Belching
  • Heartburn
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Stomach flu

However, if your side effects are too bothersome, or if your symptoms worsen or last longer than two weeks, you should tell your doctor about it.

How long do side effects of Wegovy last?

Wegovy’s side effects are temporary and usually lasts anywhere from a few days to two weeks. But they can last longer for some people.

The sooner your body gets used to it, the sooner your symptoms will go away. You should consult your doctor if the side effects don’t go away or get better.

3. Wegovy has a dosing schedule

Most adults are given a starting dose of 0.25 mg once a week. This is increased every four weeks until you reach the maximum dose of 2.4 mg once weekly.

Sticking to your dosing schedule will give your body time to adjust to the medication. It can prevent side effects or reduce their severity. “This prevents the complication called hypoglycemia– a condition which can also be life-threatening and can lead to coma.”

4. Wegovy can interact with your medications

The weight loss drug works by slowing your digestion. But it can affect how your body absorbs medications or supplements that you take by mouth.

Some examples include:

It’s important to let your doctor know if you are taking other drugs or supplements before starting your Wegovy® treatment.

5. Wegovy isn’t for everyone

Wegovy® may be harmful to people with specific health conditions or allergies to its ingredients or similar medications.

It may cause a severe allergic reaction or serious side effects. Some examples include gallstone formation, kidney failure, low blood sugar, and depression.

Talk to your doctor if you:

  • Are allergic to semaglutide or other ingredients of Wegovy
  • Have digestive problems that cause dehydration or prevent you from getting adequate hydration, such as vomiting or diarrhea
  • Are currently pregnant or breastfeeding, or have plans to be pregnant
  • Have a personal or family history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, gallbladder or kidney disease, or pancreatitis
  • Have a health history of thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome (MEN 2)
  • Are currently depressed or have a medical history of depression

Based on your current health, your doctor can determine whether or not Wegovy® is safe for you, or if you need to consider other weight loss drugs.

What Should You Avoid When on Wegovy?

You shouldn’t take Wegovy® with other GLP-1 agonists, such as:

  • Albiglutide (Tanzeum®)
  • Dulaglutide (Trulicity®)
  • Exenatide (Bydureon®, Byetta®)
  • Liraglutide (Saxenda®, Victoza®)
  • Lixisenatide (Adlyxin®, Soliqua®)
  • Semaglutide (Ozempic®, Rybelsus®)

Since Wegovy® slows down your digestion, you shouldn’t eat too quickly, eat heavy meals, or have large drinks with your meals to avoid stomach upset.

Are There Foods to Avoid When Taking Wegovy?

There are no food restrictions for Wegovy®. However, you may want to avoid drinking alcohol, especially if you have diabetes that isn’t under control.

Wegovy® can decrease your blood sugar. And if you drink alcohol with it, your blood glucose levels may drop dangerously low (hypoglycemia).

You may also want to avoid eating unhealthy foods, such as:

  • Sugary foods and drinks
  • Foods high in saturated fats
  • Processed foods
  • Fast food
  • Simple carbohydrates

“It is important to remember that the first-line treatment of obesity still lies in healthy eating, calorie-deficit, and exercise,” says Dr. Mira.

How Much is Wegovy?

The cost of Wegovy® depends on whether or not you have insurance, and if your provider is willing to cover some or all of your treatment costs.

Cost of Wegovy Without Insurance

Without insurance, Wegovy® costs $1,500 to $2,100 per month. You will pay the same monthly costs even if your doctor increases your dose.

Cost of Wegovy With Insurance

If you have private health insurance, you can save up to $225 per month on up to twelve fills—bringing down your monthly treatment costs to $1,275 to $1,825.

Even if your insurer doesn’t cover treatment, you can save up to $500 on one month’s supply of Wegovy® so you only have to pay $1,000 to $1,600.

If you have Medicare or Medicaid, it may help cover the cost of your semaglutide treatment. Your coverage will depend on your insurance plan and state.

Is Wegovy Different from Ozempic?

Yes and no. Wegovy® and Ozempic® are semaglutide medications with the same active ingredient. Both were also developed by Novo Nordisk.

However, they’re also different because each one has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a unique condition:

  • Ozempic® is an FDA-approved treatment for diabetes
  • Wegovy® is FDA-approved for losing weight 

Can You Use Ozempic for Weight Loss?

Yes. You can use Ozempic® for weight loss if Wegovy® isn’t available in your area and if your doctor prescribes it to help you lose weight.

Your doctor may provide an off-label prescription for Ozempic® while it’s still being reviewed by the FDA as a weight loss medication.

Updated on January 31, 2024
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3 sources cited
Updated on January 31, 2024
Dr. Rizza Mira
Dr. Rizza Mira
Medical Reviewer
Dr. Rizza Mira is a medical doctor and a general practitioner who specializes in pediatrics, nutrition, dietetics, and public health.

As a pediatrician, she is dedicated to the general health and well-being of children and expecting parents. She believes that good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and prevention of illness are key to ensuring the health of children and their families.

When she’s not in the hospital, Rizza advocates and mobilizes causes like breastfeeding, vaccination drives, and initiatives to prevent illness in the community.
Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.
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