For those looking to shed excess pounds, new medications semaglutide and tirzepatide are generating buzz. As a doctor, patients often ask me to explain the difference between these two injections for weight management.
Both semaglutide (brand names Ozempic, Wegovy) and tirzepatide (Mounjaro) are glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists that work by mimicking a hormone to reduce appetite, however tirzepatide uniquely also activates the glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) receptor unlike semaglutide which only activates the GLP-1 receptor.
Tirzepatide is the newcomer, approved by the FDA in 2022 as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. It’s also under investigation for obesity. Semaglutide has been around longer, with FDA obesity approval in 2021.
In clinical trials, tirzepatide led to greater weight loss compared to semaglutide – up to 25% total body weight loss versus 15%. It may also have additional blood sugar lowering effects.
However, semaglutide has a more established safety profile given its availability for several years. The most common side effects are gastrointestinal like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Tirzepatide’s long-term effects require further study.
Overall, those seeking weight loss have a new and seemingly more potent option in tirzepatide. But semaglutide remains the first-in-class GLP-1 drug with proven results. As always, work closely with your doctor to determine if these medications fit into your health and wellness goals. The right choice depends on your medical history, budget, and more.