Main Street News

What is Ozempic and Why is Everyone On It?

By Published On: January 14th, 2024

If you spend any time on the Internet or watching TV, the names Ozempic and Wegovy will likely sound familiar to you. The injectable drugs, which are used to treat diabetes and weight loss respectively, have gained viral attention across the Internet as a “quick fix” for weight loss. 

The drugs have become so popular, in fact, that many people are clamoring for a prescription for them, regardless of whether or not they have the diseases that the drugs are supposed to treat. Ozempic and Wegovy have been so in-demand in recent months that there have been multiple shortages of them.

It seems like everyone has heard of it or is taking it, but what exactly are the drugs for and how do they impact the people taking them? 

So, what exactly is it? 

Ozempic and Wegovy are two of three federally approved semaglutide medications. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “Semaglutide belongs to a class of medications known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. It mimics the GLP-1 hormone that is released in the gastrointestinal tract in response to eating. One role of GLP-1 is to prompt the body to produce more insulin, which reduces blood glucose (sugar). GLP-1 in higher amounts also interacts with the parts of the brain that reduce appetite and signal a feeling of fullness.” 

All of this to say that Ozempic and Wegovy are essentially the same drug, just prescribed under different names and with different doses. 

Both Ozempic and Wegovy are administered via injection once a week into the arm, thigh, or stomach. Ozempic was approved in 2017 to lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes, and to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death in adults with type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

Wegovy injection was approved in 2021 to help adults and children aged 12 years and older with obesity or some adults with excess weight, who also have weight-related medical problems, to lose weight and keep the weight off. 

Both Ozempic and Wegovy are available only with a prescription and there have been no approved generic versions … yet.

Who’s eligible for a prescription? 

Ozempic is approved and prescribed to people who have Type 2 diabetes. 

Under the FDA, Wegovy is approved and prescribed to people who are obese or overweight. According to UC Health, “those who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater along with those who have a BMI of 27 or greater who also have other health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol that make weight loss important.”

It’s important to note that if a person is prescribed Wegovy for weight-loss, it’s not something that they can just stop taking after they’ve lost the weight. Instead, they must continue taking the medication indefinitely in order to keep the weight off. 

What are the side effects? 

The list of side effects for Ozempic and Wegovy is rather lengthy. According to The New York Times, people taking Ozempic and Wegovy for “approved and off-label use may experience nausea and dehydration. They might also feel fatigue and malaise. Their bowel movements might change, with some patients having diarrhea and others becoming severely constipated.”

In extreme and rare cases, the medications could also increase the risk of pancreatitis or put patients at risk of becoming malnourished due to how few nutrients they are able to consume. 

Cost and accessibility 

Getting a prescription for Ozempic or Wegovy seems to be pretty simple, but insurance is a different story. 

Some prescriptions are covered under insurance when the medications are being used to treat diabetes. When Ozempic of Wegovy is prescribed for obesity or weight loss, insurance may deem it a “vanity drug” and choose not to cover it. 

With so many different places, including doctor’s offices, medi-spas, and online telehealth companies, providing prescriptions for Ozempic and Wegovy, prices vary drastically. 

While the cost of Ozempic is affected by factors like dosage and insurance coverage, Novo Nordisk (the manufacturer of Ozempic and Wegovy) lists the price for a 1.5 mL pen as over $900 without any kind of insurance coverage. 

Insurance coverage depends on individual plans, but states that Ozempic, “is usually not covered by insurance without a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.” 

With insurance coverage, the price of Ozempic can be as low as $25/month, but depends on individual insurance plans. 

There are a few different ways to save money on Ozempic. The first is Novo Nordisk’s Patient Assistance Program, which provides the medication at no cost to those who qualify. To qualify for the program, you must be a legal citizen or resident, have no insurance or Medicare, not be enrolled in any other federal, state, or government programs such as Medicaid, Low Income Subsidy or Veterans Affairs Benefits, and meet the household income requirement, which must be at or below 400% of the federal poverty level. 

Novo Nordisk also offers a Diabetes Savings Offer Program, which helps “qualifying patients with type 2 diabetes and a private insurance plan save on Ozempic.”

Additionally, there are other patient assistance programs that help patients save money including GoodRX and SingleCare. 

Recent lawsuit 

While any lawsuits against Novo Nordisk are currently in their earliest stages, Reuters reported last month that a “Louisiana federal judge rejected Novo Nordisk’s bid to dismiss one of the earliest lawsuits brought against the pharmaceutical company over side effects of its blockbuster drug Ozempic.” 

The judge deemed that the plaintiff had provided enough support to back up her claim that Novo Nordisk “failed to warn her doctors about the risk of gastroparesis, a slowdown in the emptying of the stomach into the small intestine, associated with the drug.” 

Since this initial case, over 20 other people have filed lawsuits against Novo Nordisk stating that they were not adequately warned of the potential serious side effects, most of which include things like stomach and intestinal paralysis or obstruction. 

Novo Nordisk has claimed that “the side effects Bjorklund sued over are well known and documented in the drug’s U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved label, said the company ‘believes that the allegations in the lawsuit are without merit, and we intend to vigorously defend against these claims.’” 

For now, we’ll have to wait and see how the lawsuits play out. 

Are you currently taking Ozempic or Wegovy? If you’d like to share your experience on Ozempic or Wegovy, please reach out to Abby at

*Disclaimer: All medical claims made in this article are information provided by the subject. The information is general in nature and not specifically meant for any particular individual. You should always seek out medical assistance from a medical professional based on your individual needs and circumstances.