Rybelsus and Ozempic are prescription medications containing the active drug semaglutide.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved these medications for blood sugar control in people living with type 2 diabetes.
This article will explain the differences and similarities between Rybelsus and Ozempic.
I’ll discuss the uses, dosages, effectiveness, side effects, cost, and warnings, as well as an overall summary of which is best.
Rybelsus vs Ozempic
Rybelsus and Ozempic are similar medications with slight differences.
Both medications contain the active ingredient semaglutide and are in a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists.
This class of drugs to work similarly to a naturally occurring hormone that helps the body:
- Slow digestion
- Stimulate insulin release
- Lower the amount the glucose released by the liver
Uses of Rybelsus and Ozempic
The FDA approved Rybelsus and Ozempic to help adults with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar levels.
If further blood sugar management is needed, the ADA recommends adding insulin or another diabetes medication, which can include Rybelsus or Ozempic.
Rybelsus and Ozempic are not approved to treat type 1 diabetes.
Other uses of Ozempic
The FDA also approved Ozempic to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack in people diagnosed with both type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Ozempic is a once-a-week subcutaneous injection that comes in a pre-filled injection pen.
Rybelsus comes in pill form that is taken by mouth once a day.
The initial dose of ozempic is 0.25 milligrams (mg).
After four weeks, the dose increases to 0.5-1 mg once a week.
The initial dose of Rybelsus is 3 mg once daily for 30 days.
Then the dose increases to 7 mg for the next 30 days.
After this, your medical provider will decide if this dose benefits you or if it needs to be increased to 14 mg for better blood sugar management.
Currently, no clinical studies directly compare the effectiveness of these medications.
Rybelsus and Ozempic are effective in helping maintain blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes when used with diet and exercise.
Studies performed on this class of medication show that these drugs can lower a person’s A1c by about 1%.
A1c measures a person’s blood sugar levels over the previous three months.
Ozempic has additional labeled benefits.
Get emergency help for signs of an allergic reaction such as
- Trouble breathing
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
Because Rybelsus and Ozempic contain the same active ingredient, semaglutide, their side effects are similar.
Mild side effects
Common side effects include:
- Low blood sugar
- Bloating, gas, or burping
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea or constipation
Because of the effects on the digestive system, the initial dose of these medications is smaller to help your body adjust to the drug.
Serious side effects
Call your doctor immediately if you experience:
- Vision changes
- Unusual mood changes
- Thought about hurting yourself
- Pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest
- Lump in your neck or trouble swallowing
- Hoarse voice
- Pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back
- Clay-colored stools
- Yellow skin and eyes
- Low blood sugar symptoms
- Lower back pain
- Urinating less often
- Stomach flu symptoms
If you believe your symptoms are life-threatening, seek emergency care.
The cost of the medications depends on several factors, including your insurance plan and pharmacy.
Rybelsus oral tablets 3mg cost around $949 for 30 tablets.
Ozempic subcutaneous solution (2mg/1.5 mL (0.25 mg or 0.5 mg dose)) costs around $949 for a supply of 1.5 mL.
Patient assistant programs can help cover the cost of these medications.
Warnings and Interactions
Both Rybelsus and Ozempic come with a black box warning for the risk of a thyroid tumor.
In studies, semaglutide increased the risk of thyroid C-cell tumors in mice.
However, it is unknown if this risk also applies to humans.
Do not take Rybelsus or Ozempic if you or a family member have had medullary thyroid carcinoma.
Also avoid these medications if you have endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2.
Call your medical provider if you have signs of a thyroid tumor, such as
- Swelling or a lump in your neck
- Difficulty swallowing
- A hoarse voice
- Shortness of breath
Both medications have drug interactions that you should discuss with your medical provider.
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Rybelsus and Ozempic.
Rybelsus and Ozempic are not approved to treat type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis.
Which Is Best?
Talk with your medical provider if you have type 2 diabetes and are looking at possible treatments or switching medications.
They will review your medical history and help you decide which medication may be best for you or if there is another more suitable option.
Some key points to remember include:
- Both Rybelsus and Ozempic contain the same active ingredient, semaglutide.
- Rybelsus is an oral tablet you take once a day.
- Ozempic is a subcutaneous injection you take once a week.
- Before trying these medications, the ADA recommends you take metformin first.
- Both of these drugs are for use with diet and exercise.
- Ozempic is approved for reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death in people with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
FDA approves new drug treatment for chronic weight management, first since 2014. (2021).
FDA approves first oral GLP-1 treatment for type 2 diabetes. (2019).
Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists. (2022).
Pharmacologic approaches to glycemic treatment: Standards of medical care in diabetes - 2021. (2020).
Semaglutide and cardiovascular outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes. (2016).