Rybelsus vs. Ozempic

Rybelsus vs. Ozempic

Authored by Monique Deluge, / Medically Reviewed by Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS
Last Updated: June 7, 2023


Wondering which is right for you, Rybelsus or Ozempic? The American Diabetes Association defines diabetes as a chronic condition that affects the way a body responds to insulin, resulting in high blood glucose levels. Insulin is made by the pancreas and is released throughout the day to keep blood sugar at normal levels. In some people, however, the pancreas does not make enough insulin or cells become resistant to it. Lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, may not be enough to manage diabetes. Some people need the help of drugs to gain better control. Rybelsus and Ozempic, which both contain semaglutide, are commonly prescribed to help achieve glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes. This article compares Rybelsus and Ozempic.

The Effectiveness of Rybelsus vs. Ozempic

Is Rybelsus the same as Ozempic?

Rybelsus and Ozempic both treat high blood sugar and cause weight loss, but Ozempic is an injection, while Rybelsus is a pill. Think of Rybelsus as Ozempic in a pill form. Both manufactured by Novo Nordisk, the drugs share the same active ingredient, semaglutide. Semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist, mimics the effects of a hormone that regulates insulin and hunger. Initially created to treat type 2 diabetes, semaglutide turned out to be a game changer in the weight loss arena. Many users effortlessly shed pounds because they simply don’t feel as hungry.

Which is more effective, Rybelsus or Ozempic?

Both drugs are equally effective; however, Ozempic is available in higher doses. According to the FDA, the maximum 14 mg daily dose of Rybelsus is equivalent to the 1 mg weekly dose of Ozempic. There is more semaglutide in a Rybelsus pill than an Ozempic injection because only a fraction of each pill is absorbed by the stomach.

In a six-month study, those taking Rybelsus witnessed an average A1C drop of 1.3 percent and lost around 10 pounds. Ozempic offered nearly identical results, causing an A1C drop of 2.2 percent and an average weight loss of 15 pounds. These results show that the two drugs’ effects are comparable.

Ozempic vs. Rybelsus – Cost, dosage, and methods of use

Which is more expensive?

The prices between the two medications vary depending on your prescribed dosage, location, the pharmacy’s location, and whether your health insurance includes prescription medication coverage.

Rybelsus vs. Ozempic dosage

Typically, with Rybelsus, users start with a 3 mg daily dose for 30 days. Then, your doctor will likely increase your dose to 7 mg per day, which is the standard dose for improved blood sugar control. After seven days at 7 mg, your doctor will assess the need for further adjustments. If you still need better blood sugar management, you may be prescribed the maximum dose of 14 mg daily. People start Ozempic with a 0.25 mg weekly injection. After about four weeks, your healthcare provider might suggest stepping up to 0.5 mg weekly. If blood sugar is still uncontrolled, there’s an option for a 1-2 mg injection weekly. These dosing variations provide flexibility in tailoring treatment to individual needs, ensuring that you receive the right treatment for your blood sugar management.

How to use Rybelsus and Ozempic

As per FDA guidelines, the use of Rybelsus involves a specific routine. It’s recommended to take Rybelsus every morning on an empty stomach, 30 minutes before any food, beverages, or other oral medications. During this half-hour window, you can only consume up to four ounces of water. Timing is essential—if you have breakfast too early, it may affect the pill’s effectiveness, but waiting beyond the 30-minute mark might enhance absorption. In contrast, Ozempic is a once-weekly injection that can be administered at more flexible times, and you can take it with or without meals.

Warnings of Rybelsus and Ozempic

Before using Rybelsus or Ozempic, you should be aware of important warnings and precautions to ensure safe and effective usage. Here are some key considerations:

  • Thyroid cancer: Clinical studies of medications in a similar drug call in rodents have revealed an increased risk of thyroid cancers and thyroid tumors. This suggests a possible risk in humans, particularly thyroid C-cell cancers. You should not take Rybelsus or Ozempic if you or a family member have ever had a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma. You also should not take these drugs if you have a rare form of cancer called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2.
  • Allergic reaction: Do not use these drugs if you have a history of allergic reaction to either drug or any of their ingredients.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding: To ensure safety, avoid breastfeeding while taking Rybelsus due to the potential accumulation of the absorption enhancer, salcaprozate sodium. Given the limited data on its effects on developing fetuses, pregnant mothers and women wanting to conceive are likewise advised to avoid Ozempic.
  • Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis is a possible side effect of all drugs that are glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists.

Comparing the adverse effects of Rybelsus vs. Ozempic

Adverse effects are any harmful reaction that results after taking medications. Presentations vary among individuals and can range from mild to severe. Some people may be afraid of taking certain medications, however, you should not think that medications were created to destroy your health. It is actually the opposite! Adverse effects can sometimes occur because your body is now exposed to something new and may take time to adjust.

Some common adverse effects include the following:

  • Rybelsus only: Decreased appetite
  • Ozempic only: Injection site reactions

Adverse effects common to both Rybelsus and Ozempic include the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss

While they are generally considered safe and effective, Rybelsus and Ozempic may have these serious adverse effects:

  • Hypoglycemia (when used with insulin or sulfonylureas)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Sudden kidney problems
  • Thyroid C-cell tumors

Rybelsus and Ozempic coupon limitations

Rybelsus and Ozempic coupons offer only small, temporary savings. If you’re looking for a way to save consistently on your monthly prescriptions, forget about coupons. Patient assistance programs can help you save more than any coupon, discount, or savings card. Here’s why you shouldn’t depend on Rybelsus and Ozempic coupons:

  • Restrictions: Coupons have limits on where and how you can use them. For example, a coupon might be valid only at specific pharmacies or for a limited time. Some coupons may apply only to the first month’s prescription but not subsequent ones.
  • Copay accumulators: Because a coupon may not count toward your insurance’s out-of-pocket maximum, you may have to pay the full prescription cost.
  • Expiration dates: Coupons become useless once they expire.
  • Limited coverage: Even with a coupon, the cost of Rybelsus and Ozempic may remain high. Coupons can only do so much to offset high  medication costs.
  • In-person redemption: To benefit from coupon savings, people must physically visit a pharmacy to present the coupon to the pharmacist. This can be difficult for those unable to leave their homes.

Discuss Rybelsus and Ozempic with your doctor

Rybelsus and Ozempic offer promising results for managing blood sugar levels and even weight loss. Your doctor can evaluate your unique health requirements and preferences as well as potential adverse effects to help you make an informed decision. So whether you’re leaning toward Rybelsus or Ozempic, don’t make this decision on your own. Talk to your doctor to determine which drug is right for you.

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  2. MedicalNewsToday. (2023). Rybelsus vs. Ozempic. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/drugs-rybelsus-vs-ozempic
  3. Ross Wollen. (2023). Rybelsus is Ozempic in a Pill. Is It Just as Good? Everydayhealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diabetes/rybelsus-is-ozempic-in-a-pill-is-it-just-as-good/
  4. Gina Allegretti. (2023). Rybelsus vs. Ozempic: differences and similarities. Ro.co. https://ro.co/health-guide/rybelsus-vs-ozempic/
  5. Cathay Cassata. (2023). I Took Ozempic, Then I Got Pancreatitis. Healthline.com. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/ozempic-side-effect-pancreatitis
  6. Drugs.com. (2023). Semaglutide Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Warnings. https://www.drugs.com/pregnancy/semaglutide.html#:~:text=Semaglutide%20Breastfeeding%20Warnings&text=%2DOral%20tablets%3A%20Breastfeeding%20is%20not,subcutaneous%20injection%20should%20be%20used
  7. LifeMD. (2023). What you need to know about Ozempic and pregnancy. https://lifemd.com/learn/what-you-need-to-know-about-ozempic-and-pregnancy#:~:text=The%20effects%20of%20Ozempic%20on,Ozempic%2C%20according%20to%20its%20manufacturer.
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