Ozempic and Wegovy, the diabetes medication that is increasingly catching on as a medical means of weight-control, may soon be available as a pill.
As injectables both Ozempic and Wegovy are hard-to-obtain and expensive. A new pill form could change this.
The price of Ozempic varies based on the pharmacy you use. The average cost of Ozempic per month is $209 ($6.97 per day), which adds up to $2,544 yearly.
Researchers presented data in two studies on Sunday at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions conference, that shows that a pill form would be just as effective as the injectable.
One study showed that 50 milligrams of semaglutide — the active compound in Ozempic and Wegovy — taken orally each day is roughly as effective as weekly Wegovy shots in reducing weight in people who are overweight or obese. Wegovy injections contain 2.4 milligrams of semaglutide.
That trial, also published Sunday in The Lancet, tracked 667 people over 68 weeks. Eighty-five percent of those who took semaglutide lost at least 5 percent of their body weight over the course of the study, compared to just 26 percent of those who received the placebo. Those who took semaglutide lost, on average, around 15 percent of their body weight — roughly six times that of the placebo group.
A separate study, also presented Sunday and published in The Lancet, focused on oral semaglutide for people with Type 2 diabetes. Just over 1,600 participants were divided into three groups and given 14-milligram, 25-milligram or 50-milligram daily doses. Those who took the 25- and 50-milligram doses lost more weight, and had greater reductions in blood sugar, than those who took the lowest dose.
Novo Nordisk, the company that manufactures Wegovy and Ozempic, funded both trials.
“I suspect there are a lot of people that are not using these treatments because it requires an injection,” said Dr. Robert Gabbay, the chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association.
Oral semaglutide is not new: There’s already a tablet form of the compound on the market, sold under the name Rybelsus. The Food and Drug Administration has only approved that drug for adults with Type 2 diabetes, and the tablets come in comparably smaller daily doses, up to 14 milligrams. The tablets work in a similar way to semaglutide injections, which regulate insulin, lowering blood sugar and slowing the emptying of the stomach, making people feel fuller for longer periods of time, said Dr. Andrew Kraftson, a clinical associate professor at Michigan Medicine.