Ozempic and Mounjaro are drugs that can be used to treat type 2 diabetes. But you’ve likely heard of them because they’re all over the news for weight loss.

Ozempic, Mounjaro, Wegovy, Zepbound, and Saxenda are in a newer class of drugs called GLP-1 agonists. These once-weekly injectable medications are currently the most effective diabetes and weight management medications available, leading to an average weight loss of 6{f3a6a30fe8ec83c88e3a096004ddf2d5481b76e701b36185325949387956c891} to 20{f3a6a30fe8ec83c88e3a096004ddf2d5481b76e701b36185325949387956c891} depending on the drug. But only Wegovy, Zepbound, and Saxenda are approved specifically for weight loss.

Research shows that some of these drugs also lower the risk of heart and kidney disease. They work quite differently from most of the weight loss drugs that have come before them by suppressing appetite, slowing digestion, and making patients feel full faster.

An illustration of FDA-approved weight loss drugs from 1999 - 2023.
Illustration by Mira Norian for Verywell Health

GLP-1 agonists are not without side effects. Because of how they work, common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. 

The demand for these drugs increased after celebrities on social media described taking them and losing weight rapidly. Initially, this led to a shortage of Wegovy. As a result, people began taking Ozempic off-label instead, even though they did not have type 2 diabetes.

Supply chain issues still exist today for these medications. Insurance companies have become more strict when it comes to covering the drugs, rejecting claims even for patients with diabetes already on the drug.

It’s important to remember that the hype is warranted. Medications like semaglutide, which makes up both Ozempic and Wegovy, are both effective and necessary—over 40{f3a6a30fe8ec83c88e3a096004ddf2d5481b76e701b36185325949387956c891} of adults in the U.S. have obesity and another 30{f3a6a30fe8ec83c88e3a096004ddf2d5481b76e701b36185325949387956c891} have overweight. Their rising popularity is paving a way for a new era of weight loss drugs, and hopefully, access to these drugs.

Here’s what you need to know. 

— Kelly Wood, MD, endocrinologist and Verywell Health Medical Expert Board member

Prevalence of chronic conditions among U.S. adults
Illustration by Mira Norian for Verywell Health

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