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Rybelsus® vs. Ozempic®

Published

Mar 7, 2024

The key differences between an oral and an injectable Semaglutide medication.

Semaglutide Syringe and Vial with Pills
Semaglutide Syringe and Vial with Pills
Semaglutide Syringe and Vial with Pills

Over the past two years, if you've watched the daily news, browsed the internet, or kept up with pop culture, chances are you've heard about Ozempic®. It's the latest cutting-edge injectable medication for Type 2 Diabetes, with a desirable side effect: weight loss. 

But Ozempic® isn't the only medication that delivers Type 2 Diabetes and weight management treatment. Semaglutide, the active ingredient in subcutaneous injectable medications like Ozempic®, has a new oral treatment option called Rybelsus®. 

Here, we'll review the major similarities and differences between these two semaglutide medications, including effectiveness, potential side effects, and cost.

Please note: Henry Meds does not offer Ozempic®, Rybelsus®, or Wegovy®, which are only available from the Novo Nordisk company. Compounded Semaglutide is a patient-specific medication created in a state Board of Pharmacy or FDA licensed compounding facility per a prescription from a licensed healthcare professional. Compounded drugs are required to exclusively use ingredients from FDA-licensed facilities, and test sterile compounds for potency, sterility, and purity. While compounded drugs are legal they do not undergo pre-market approval from the FDA as they are not made in large batches for the public, compounds are made based on specific orders from a medical professional. Because of that the dose, route of administration, safety, and efficacy may differ from commercially available, brand-name, drugs. Henry Meds exclusively works with licensed sterile compounding pharmacies in the United States.

What Is Ozempic®? 

Ozempic® is a name-brand, once-a-week injectable Type 2 Diabetes medication that comes in 0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg doses.¹ This product is only available through Novo Nordisk and it contains the active ingredient Semaglutide.

Injectable Semaglutide

Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that triggers the body to produce more insulin and reduce an individual’s blood sugar levels or A1C.² ³ Since this medication is a subcutaneous injectable, patients will need to administer a small needle in fatty areas of the body, including the upper arm, lower abdomen, and thigh.⁴ Individuals will need to change the injection site every week they administer the drug. 

While Semaglutide injectables are typically prescribed to adults with Type 2 Diabetes, providers with chronic weight management patients have found an off-label use for this weekly injection: weight loss.  

What Is Rybelsus®? 

Similar to Ozempic®, Rybelsus® is a name-brand medication that uses Semaglutide to help treat individuals with Type 2 Diabetes and weight management patients. However, Rybelsus® is a once-a-day oral medication offered by Novo Nordisk that comes in 3 mg, 7 mg, and 14 mg tablets.⁵

While you won’t need to inject yourself with a needle, oral Semaglutide means you’ll be responsible for taking this medication every day and monitoring possible interactions with any other medications. 

If you take additional morning medications, you should discuss your medication schedule with your primary care provider. They can help prevent medication interference and advise on your dosage schedule. 

The Difference Between Ozempic® and Rybelsus® 

While both medications contain the GLP-1 receptor agonist, Semaglutide, there are key differences between the two prescription medications.⁶ Some of these differences will be based on personal preference, while others are based on medical needs. Here’s what you need to know about injectable and oral Semaglutide:

Fear of Needles 

Nobody likes getting poked and prodded with needles, but some people have an extreme fear of injections, which can cause individuals to avoid medical treatment.⁷

This can be very dangerous, especially when it comes to managing prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes. The harmful side effects of untreated diabetes can be life-threatening. That’s where oral Semaglutide comes in. Adults with Type 2 Diabetes can receive the treatment they need without being forced to inject themselves with a needle. 

Instructions for Use 

There are vast differences between the administration of Ozempic® (injectable Semaglutide) and Rybelsus® (oral Semaglutide). Here, we’ll break down the instructions for use and highlight the variations between the two. 

Ozempic® is a once-a-week subcutaneous injectable that requires refrigeration.⁴ While individuals will need to keep the medication in cool temperatures, they aren’t burdened by remembering to take a daily pill. 

If you travel frequently, here are some recommendations from Henry Meds for keeping your injectable Semaglutide chilled during long car rides and flights. 

When using the injection, uncap the needle and verify the dosage amount on the dial. Once you are ready, inject the medication into the upper arm, thigh, or under the abdomen. Count to six and remove the needle.⁴ 

It’s very important that the medication is not injected into the same spot. Additionally, you cannot inject Semaglutide into muscles or veins. 

Injectable vs Oral Semaglutide

On the other hand, Rybelsus® is taken once a day and does not require refrigeration. However, this medication must be taken immediately in the morning and patients cannot eat, drink, or take other medications for 30 minutes following administration.⁵ 

Rybelsus® cannot be cut or chewed. For maximum effectiveness, this medication needs to be taken whole with 4 oz of water and 30 minutes before eating and drinking anything else.⁵ 

By following the administration guidelines for oral Semaglutide, you should be able to avoid potential drug interactions. However, it’s crucial that patients discuss their treatment plan with their provider to confirm the oral form of Semaglutide is the right medication for them. 

The choice is yours (and your provider’s). Ozempic® has fewer instruction guidelines, but more invasive administration due to the needle injection. On the other hand, Rybelsus® has strict instructions for the daily administration of a pill but doesn’t require personal injections. 

Cost 

Discussing the cost of Rybelsus® and Ozempic® involves various factors: insurance coverage, dosage amount, and reason for obtaining medication. 

If you’re looking to obtain Semaglutide medications for weight management, it’s unlikely you’ll receive insurance approval—meaning you’ll pay out of pocket for your prescription. However, if you have Type 2 Diabetes, your insurance plan may cover prescription medications like Rybelsus® or Ozempic®. 

Each dosage amount contains a higher concentration of Semaglutide, which can inflate the cost. Currently, a month’s supply of Ozempic®, four pens injected weekly, can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $3,800 without insurance.⁸

Alternatively, a 30-day supply of Rybelsus® without insurance could cost $821 to $958.⁹ While less costly than Ozempic®, Rybelsus® is the first oral Semaglutide medication and individuals may struggle to obtain the non-injectable form of Semaglutide.

How Semaglutide Medications Help Patients with Type 2 Diabetes 

An estimated 415 million adults around the world have diabetes. About 90% of all diabetes cases consist of Type 2 Diabetes.¹⁰ As the obesity epidemic rises, so does the number of Type 2 Diabetics—this disease is often seen in patients who struggle to control their weight or live a sedentary lifestyle.¹⁰ 

Worldwide Diagnoses of Diabetes

Patients with Type 2 Diabetes frequently need medication to help control their insulin production. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) is a major concern for people with Type 2 Diabetes because consistently holding high blood sugar levels can result in organ and nerve damage.¹¹ 

Have you ever sat on your hand or foot too long and felt pins and needles? Unfortunately, high blood sugar can result in a permanent feeling of pins and needles, otherwise known as neuropathy.¹² 

When the nerves are damaged to this extent, individuals with Type 2 Diabetes may never regain normal feeling. In fact, if an individual ignores the nerve damage caused by Type 2 Diabetes, they may experience sepsis and need an amputation.¹² 

But hyperglycemia and neuropathy aren’t the only concerns for Type 2 Diabetes patients. 

Another side effect, diabetic retinopathy, can damage eyesight and other unsightly side effects. Without treatment, individuals with Type 2 Diabetes could lose their eyesight, develop cataracts, glaucoma, or experience retinal detachment. 

Additionally, individuals with Type 2 Diabetes are at a high risk for developing cardiovascular disease.¹⁰ High blood pressure goes hand-in-hand with high blood sugar, which results in damage to the heart.¹⁴ Due to this connection, people with untreated Type 2 Diabetes can experience a variety of heart complications. 

The Benefits of Semaglutide Medications

Whether it’s injected or taken orally, Semaglutide has been shown to reduce an individual’s blood sugar levels from dangerous levels (hyperglycemia) to normal, healthy levels.⁶ But not only does Semaglutide reduce A1C levels, it also has been shown to help individuals lose weight. 

Using Semaglutide Medications for Weight Management 

Many medications have off-label benefits, including Semaglutide. For patients looking for weight management and weight loss, Semaglutide injections resulted in overweight and obese participants seeing a 5.9% body weight reduction in three months.¹⁵

Healthy weight management is crucial for an individual’s overall health. By monitoring your weight, you can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other weight-related diseases.¹⁶

Ozempic®

A recent study investigated people who used a once-a-week injectable Semaglutide. The control group (who did not receive Semaglutide) received counseling for healthy diet and exercise regimens. 

When the two groups were compared after 68 weeks, people who received injectable Semaglutide lost an average of 15.4kg (about 33.7lbs). The control group only lost 2.6kg (about 5.7lbs).¹⁷

How Oral and Injectable Semaglutide Affects Weight Loss

None of these participants had been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Therefore, this study focused on how people with a high body mass would respond to treatment—and the results speak for themselves. 

Rybelsus®

Rybelsus® is the first Semaglutide medication offered in pill form, and researchers are still investigating its off-label use for weight management. However, there are a few clinical studies that have examined how oral Semaglutide can affect weight loss. 

A recent meta-analysis compared the results of two monumental studies on oral and injectable Semaglutide. Before we review the final numbers, it’s important to note that the injectable Semaglutide study examined their participants for 30 weeks. The oral Semaglutide study reported their results after 26 weeks.⁶

Each study provided their participants with lifestyle counseling on healthy diets and exercise. After 26 weeks, the oral Semaglutide group lost 2.3–3.7 kgs of body weight. Alternatively, the injectable Semaglutide group lost 3.7–4.5 kgs of weight.⁶

How’d each control group fare? Well, without any Semaglutide medication, they lost between 1.0–1.4 kgs.⁶ These clinical studies demonstrate the off-label use of Semaglutide for weight management is effective. 

Side Effects of Semaglutide Medications (200 words)

Since Rybelsus® and Ozempic® feature the same active ingredient, Semaglutide, many of the side effects of these name-brand drugs will be the same.¹ ⁵

Here’s what you need to know about the side effects of Semaglutide. You may experience: 

  • Reduced appetite 

  • Constipation 

  • Diarrhea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

These side effects may occur regardless of your administration method. If your provider increases your dosage amount, these common side effects may return as you adjust to the medication. 

Serious side effects that require immediate care from your medical provider include:¹ ⁵

  • Pancreatitis

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) 

  • Kidney Failure

    • Signs of allergic reactions, including swelling, difficulty breathing, rash, and a rapid increase in heart rate. 

  • Gallbladder issues

In some cases, Semaglutide was found to cause possible thyroid tumors or Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma (MTC, a type of thyroid cancer). If you have a family history of MTC, you shouldn’t use any Semaglutide medications, including Ozempic® or Rybelsus®. 

Important Health Information

Women who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are actively breastfeeding should not take Semaglutide. 

It’s important to note that oral Semaglutide can interact with other oral medications if they are taken at the same time.⁵ This is not a side effect of injectable Semaglutide because the medication is directly inserted into the body, rather than being digested in a pill form. 

How to Obtain Injectable Semaglutide 

Currently, the FDA reports that 2 mg Ozempic® injectables have limited availability, which means that weight management patients may struggle to obtain the medication.¹⁸

However, Compounded Semaglutide helps fill the gaps in availability. Compounded Semaglutide combines and mixes other ingredients together to provide the same benefits as the active ingredient—making this form of medication more accessible and affordable.¹⁹

Weight Management With Semaglutide Medications

The providers on the Henry Meds platform work with companies licensed by the State boards of pharmacy and FDA-licensed outsourcing facilities to obtain high-quality, safe Compounded Semaglutide. 

Choose Henry Meds to Receive Affordable Weight Management Treatment Options 

While Rybelsus® and Ozempic® have different administration methods, both types of oral and injectable Semaglutide medications have been shown to help people with Type 2 Diabetes, with the added off-label use for weight loss. 

If you’re interested in seeking injectable, Compounded Semaglutide, Henry Meds can help. Just fill out a medical history form and schedule a telehealth appointment with a medical provider on our platform. Once you’re approved for GLP-1 treatment for weight management, you’ll receive your monthly medication for only $297 a month! 

To help you trust the information we provide, every article written by Henry relies on peer-reviewed studies and medically-reviewed facts. We ensure that data, ideas, and figures cited are reliable, current, and accurate. Our team of medical reviewers aims to help you cut through the noise with clear and authoritative primary and secondary sources.

Nothing in this article is intended to be prescriptive or medical advice. Talk to your doctor before starting a new diet and exercise plan. Information presented is about our medically supervised weight management programs and is not an advertisement for a specific drug.

Sources

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