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Semaglutide (Wegovy, Ozempic & Rybelsus)

Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist and occupies the GLP-1 receptor in the brain that regulates appetite.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Wegovy (semaglutide) injections in 2021 for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight and at least one weight-related condition (such as high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, or high cholesterol)

Important Disclaimer: This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. This material does not endorse drugs or diagnose patients. Always consult your doctor when considering any weight loss treatment.

What is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide belongs to a class of medications known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, or GLP-1 RAs. It mimics the GLP-1 hormone, released in the gut in response to eating. One role of GLP-1 is to prompt the body to produce more insulin, which reduces blood sugar (glucose).

It was originally developed by Novo Nordisk in 2012 for use in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. Recently however, doctors have begun prescribing it off-label as an anti-obesity medication.

Semaglutide is the generic name for the active ingredient in the prescription drugs Ozempic, Rybelsus and Wegovy.

How does Semaglutide work?

By mimicking the action of the incretin glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), semaglutide increases the production of insulin, the hormone that lowers the blood sugar level. It also appears to enhance growth of pancreatic beta cells, which are responsible for insulin production and release.

Additionally, semaglutide inhibits the production of glucagon, the hormone that increases glycogenolysis (release of stored carbohydrate from the liver) and gluconeogenesis (synthesis of new glucose).

These actions reduce food intake by lowering appetite and slowing down digestion in the stomach.

Branded medications containing semaglutide

Semaglutide was developed and is manufactured by the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.

Wegovy, Ozempic and Rybelsus are registered trademarks of Novo Nordisk A/S.


Ozempic is a weekly semaglutide injection developed to lower blood sugar by helping the pancreas make more insulin. It was approved in 2017 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in adults with Type 2 Diabetes. It typically costs around $900 per month, and is sometimes prescribed for weight loss, despite this not being its intended purpose.


Rybelsus is the brand name for once-a-day semaglutide tablets used in adults with Type 2 Diabetes mellitus to control blood sugar levels. It is usually started at a low dose that is gradually increased every 4 weeks to 30 days, to minimize unpleasant side effects. Rybelsus is not for treating type 1 diabetes. It has been off-label prescribed for weight loss in recent years. Rybelsus costs approximately $1,300 per 30 daily doses of 7mg each.


Wegovy is the branding for a higher-dosage version of the Ozempic weekly semaglutide injection. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Wegovy injections (2.4 mg once weekly) in 2021 for chronic weight management in obese or overweight adults who have at least one weight-related condition such as Type 2 Diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension). The approval stipulates that Wegovy be used in addition to a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity. Wegovy typically costs approximately $1,200 per month, or $270 per week.

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