Making Sense of the New Weight Loss Medications

In the last few years, the FDA has approved several new medications which are very effective in helping people lose weight. These newer medications have generated a lot of excitement and generated a lot of news stories. But each medication has two names: a generic name and a brand name. Some are approved for diabetes and others for weight management. Let’s see can make some sense of it all.

The generic names of the two new medications are Semaglutide and Tirzepatide.

Semaglutide is a GLP-1 agonist. This means it activates the GLP-1 receptor, mimicking the effect of the hormone GLP-1. This hormone helps you feel satisfied with less food and stay satisfied longer, so you eat less often.

Tirzepatide is a dual agonist, it activates receptors for both GLP-1 and GIP, another hormone. GIP also promotes weight loss, though it is less clear how it does this.  The average weight loss with Tirzepatide is slightly more than Semaglutide.

Each of these has more than one brand name. Note that there is no FDA-approved generic version of either of these medications.

Generic NameBrand NameApproved for
SemaglutideWegovyWeight Management
TirzepatideZepboundWeight Management
Some GLP-1 and GLP-1/GIP agonists approved diabetes or weight management

All the above given by a self-administered weekly injection. There is a pill version of Semaglutide which is taken daily called Rybelsus. But the dose is relatively low compared to Ozempic and Wegovy and it is not very effective for weight loss. Studies with higher doses of Rybelsus are currently underway, but it will be at least a year or two before if it is available.

Bottom line, which is the best? Mounjaro/Zepbound (Tirzepatide) are the most effective for weight loss on average, but Ozempic/Wegovy (Semaglutide) are great, too. All of them are expensive and not all health insurances cover them. So, the best one might be the one that is covered by your insurance. We will work with you to determine if any of these are covered by your insurance. Even if none of these medications are covered by your insurance, there are affordable options that can work for you.

Phone icon