Wegovy vs Phentermine – Which is Best for Weight Loss, Results, Comparisons, and Alternatives

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Peter Williams

Wegovy vs Phentermine

Obesity is a problem that has reached epidemic status in most countries of the world. There are a lot of overweight people who are desperate to turn their situations around. This has resulted in a growing demand for effective weight loss medications and dietary supplements. Wegovy and Phentermine are two of the most popular options among people who choose to speed up their weight loss journeys by taking a pharmaceutical route.

In this article, we are going to take a closer look at both medications and shed light on their methods of action,  along with the likely results, usage costs, and potential side effects each medication can present.

By providing a thorough comparison of Wegovy and Phentermine we aim to share valuable insights that will help you determine which, if any, option may be the most suitable choice for your weight management needs.

If you want an easy explanation as to the difference between Wegovy and Ozempic, here it is: Both contain the active ingredient semaglutide and are used to regulate blood sugar, but Wegovy is specifically dosed and approved for weight management, while Ozempic is primarily prescribed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Both are essentially the same product.

Using Wegovy for Weight Loss: A Brief Overview

Wegovy is a relatively new addition to the arsenal of weight loss medications doctors can use to treat their overweight and obese patients. It gained FDA approval in June 2021.

As with other FDA-approved weight loss drugs, Wegovy is only available to people whose BMI (body mass index) is 30 or higher. When people’s BMI becomes this high they are classed as obese.

Wegovy may also be available to people with a BMI between 27 and 29, but only if they also have weight-related conditions, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.

Wegovy provides the drug semaglutide, which was originally used to treat type 2 diabetes but subsequently proved to be good for suppressing appetite and helping to promote weight loss.

Semaglutide works by mimicking the actions of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that influences the areas of the brain responsible for regulating appetite. It also slows down gastric emptying. This prolongs the feeling of satiety that kicks in after meals. By providing these benefits,  Wegovy makes it easier to stick to smaller portion sizes and avoid eating snacks without having to contend with the repercussions of hunger.

Wegovy is administered as a once-weekly subcutaneous injection. It’s distributed in one-shot disposable injector pens that are available in five different dose options. New users typically begin with the lowest dose pen. It provides 0.25 mg of Semaglutide. This dosage is maintained for the first four weeks of treatment.

Over the following months, the dose gradually increases until users reach the maximum dose of 2.4 mg of Semaglutide per week.

Wegovy is not a quick-fix solution. As with all FDA-approved anti-obesity medications, users also need to make appropriate weight loss efforts with diet and exercise.

Related: A new pill containing semagltide is due for release soon. Amycretin is a weight medicine that’s taken daily and used alongside diet and exercise to speed up the weight loss process. It’s a combination medication that pairs Semaglutide with an experimental drug called Cagrilintide.

Phentermine Weight Loss Overview

Phentermine (Phentermine topiramate) is a time-tested weight loss drug that has been available in the United States since 1959. Doctors primarily prescribe it for short-term use in people who are overweight or obese. Often to those whose level of excess body fat poses a significant risk to their health and well-being.

Phentermine blue and white pills

Phentermine is a central nervous system stimulant. It belongs to a class of drugs known as sympathomimetic amines, which are similar to amphetamines. It primarily works by suppressing appetite but may also increase daily calorie expenditure. Phentermine’s method of action is quite complex.  However, it essentially works by stimulating the release of brain chemicals that reduce the sensation of hunger, making its users lose much of their desire to eat.

People typically take phentermine pills once per day, often before breakfast. Dosages can vary based on the specific brand and individual patient needs.

It’s important to follow the prescribing doctor’s instructions closely when taking phentermine because it can be addictive.  As with Wegovy and other weight management medications Phentermine is meant to be used as part of a structured weight loss program that includes a low-calorie diet and appropriate efforts with exercise.

Related: Are there anyt effective over the counter alternatives to Ozempic? Weight loss medications that are FDA-approved and may be considered alternatives include liraglutide and tirzepatide. There are OTC diet pills such as PhenQ and Zotrim that also highly effective.

Effectiveness for Weight Loss: How Do Wegovy and Phentermine Compare?

When it comes to chronic weight management, both medications deliver good results for many users. However, their approach differs. As can their level of effectiveness.

Wegovy users have reported significant weight loss in clinical trials. In one such study, participants taking Wegovy lost an average of 15% of their body weight over 68 weeks. That’s a notable amount—for a weight loss medication, anyway. 

To put it into perspective, it’s the same as someone with a starting weight of 225 pounds dropping around 34 pounds due to the treatment. That equates to a weight loss of 0.5 pounds per week over the 68-week evaluation period.

That’s no great shakes compared to some of the best OTC diet pills but still knocks spots off other prescription-only options.

On the other hand, Phentermine has a longstanding reputation for being one of the best short-term weight loss solutions. People using it typically see an immediate decrease in appetite, which can lead to a significant reduction in calorie intake and, consequently, weight loss.

Some study data shows Phentermine can help people lose an average of 5% of their initial body weight over 3 months. So, in the short term, Phentermine pills can be more effective than Wegovy weight loss injections. The big problem is that phentermine is only available for a maximum prescription period of 12 weeks.

Although both medications have their place in weight management, Wegovy might offer a more sustained solution for long-term weight loss support, whereas Phentermine may be better for a shorter, more immediate impact.

However, it’s important to note that individual results can vary based on a multitude of factors, including diet, exercise, and adherence to medication protocol.

Related: What are the new weight loss drugs I can use? A notable characteristic of MariTide is its potential to help maintain weight loss post-treatment – something that Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro have been criticised for failing to address.

Cost Comparison of Wegovy Vs. Phentermine: How Do the Usage Costs Compare?

Affording weight loss medication usage costs can be as challenging as the weight loss journey itself. The price tag attached to such drugs can vary widely, ranging from less than $20 to close to $1,500 per month, depending on the medication in question, insurance coverage, and individual treatment plans.

Wegovy is a newer and more specialized weight loss therapy that has a pretty hefty price tag. Without insurance or discounts,  many Wegovy users can expect to pay $1,349.02 for a 28-day supply.

Some insurance plans may cover Wegovy, especially when losing weight is a well-documented medical necessity, along with previous unsuccessful attempts to lose weight. However, many insurance plans do not cover weight loss medications. Even those that do may have payout restrictions in place that may cause the monthly usage costs to remain prohibitively high.

Phentermine is generally the more affordable option. It’s available in generic forms, which significantly reduces the price. The cost of generic phentermine without insurance can range from around $10 to $20 for a 30-day supply of 37.5mg tablets. Branded versions such as Lomaira and Adipex-P are more expensive with prices typically ranging from $27 to $100 per month.

Insurance plans that cover weight loss medications often include Phentermine, but in common with Wegovy, the level of coverage can vary, potentially leaving Phentermine users with some out-of-pocket costs.

It’s clear that Phentermine is a lot cheaper than Wegovy. It’s also considerably cheaper than many other FDA-approved weight loss medications. However, for those who can afford it, the sustained weight loss support Wegovy provides may justify its higher usage costs.

Conversely, Phentermine’s lower cost can make it appealing for shorter-term use, but there may be additional costs if additional, longer-term pharmaceutical intervention is needed.

Wegovy V.s Phentermine: Exploring the Side Effects and Risks

As we mentioned earlier in this article, both these popular weight loss drugs can cause side effects. 

Wegovy commonly causes gastrointestinal-related side effects. Reports of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and abdominal pain are quite common. Adverse effects of this nature were also experienced by the people taking part in early clinical trials.

Fortunately, these symptoms are more common during the early stages of treatment. Most users find they decrease over time.

There are also rarer, but more serious, side effects associated with Wegovy such as pancreatitis and gallbladder disease. Additionally, the medication is distributed with a warning that points out it may have the potential to increase the risk of medullary thyroid cancer and thyroid tumors.

Phentermine can present a somewhat different range of side effects, which may include dry mouth, insomnia, and rapid heart rate. It may also elevate blood pressure, potentially placing extra strain on the heart, thereby increasing susceptibility to cardiovascular problems.

In common with other stimulants, Phentermine can cause feelings of restlessness and/or periods of hyperactivity. As we previously mentioned, it poses a risk of addiction as well.

There is no denying the value of either option. Although the average weight loss associated with each one is different, Wegovy and Phentermine both have much to offer as weight management aids. It’s unfortunate that side effects may mar user experience but this is par for the course whenever you are treating obesity with pharmaceutical drugs.

Drug Suitability Considerations

Wegovy is not suitable for everyone. Nor is Phentermine. Even for those with a high BMI, one or both options may be unavailable. Many other factors can influence treatment suitability including existing health conditions,  medications in use, and, of course, personal preferences.

Doctors often prescribe Wegovy to overweight and obese patients who are likely to need ongoing support for several months. It’s more geared towards those seeking a long-term obesity management solution and is particularly suitable for patients who may benefit from a gradual and sustained weight loss solution.

Phentermine is a different story. Doctors generally prescribe it to overweight and obese people who need to lose weight more quickly. It’s not available for long-term obesity management due to the risks of dependence and stimulant-related side effects.

The decision between Wegovy and Phentermine can also be influenced by the presence of certain comorbidities. For instance, a patient with a cardiovascular condition may not be an ideal candidate for Phentermine due to its stimulant effects. Conversely, a patient with a history of pancreatitis might need to steer clear of Wegovy.

Patient preference plays a significant role too. Some people may prefer a weekly injection because they find it hard to remember to take pills. Others may dislike needles, making a daily diet pill a better option.

Ultimately, the choice between Wegovy and Phentermine hinges on a comprehensive evaluation of weight loss goals and personal preferences, along with any applicable medical considerations. Choosing which medication to use is a process that’s best done with the guidance of a suitably qualified healthcare provider.

Wegovy Vs. Phentermine: The Bottom Line

Throughout this article, we’ve compared the effectiveness and costs of Wegovy and Phentermine. We have also looked at other key factors such as how much weight people can lose while taking them, their side effects, and suitability for different patient profiles.

Wegovy stands out as the top choice for people seeking long-term weight management support. The average weight loss percentage is good but the drug comes with a higher cost and has the potential to cause some pretty worrying side effects.

Phentermine is a more cost-effective option for short-term use and it offers immediate appetite suppression benefits. Unfortunately, it carries its own set of side effects, along with a potential for dependency.

Both medications are designed to support the weight loss needs of people with high BMIs,  especially when weight-related health issues are present. That’s one of the few things they have in common.

All things considered, the decision to use Wegovy or Phentermine is never going to be easy. There are a lot of things to consider. We created this article to provide a balanced view of both options. It exists to educate, not advise. In the end, the decision over which one to use is best made with the guidance of a doctor or similarly qualified healthcare provider.

Phentermine or Wegovy FAQ

1. What is Phentermine and how does it work for weight loss?

Phentermine is a prescription medication that suppresses appetite by influencing neurotransmitters in the brain. It’s typically used short-term for obesity management in conjunction with exercise and diet modifications.

2. What is Wegovy and what’s its mechanism of action?

Wegovy (semaglutide) is an injectable prescription medication approved for long-term weight management. It works by mimicking a hormone that targets areas of the brain involved in appetite regulation, helping reduce hunger and control calorie intake.

3. Which is more effective for long-term weight loss, Phentermine or Wegovy?

Wegovy is generally considered more effective for long-term weight loss as it can be used for an extended period, compared to Phentermine, which is typically prescribed for short durations due to potential side effects and tolerance development.

4. What are the common side effects of Phentermine?

Common side effects of Phentermine include increased heart rate, dry mouth, restlessness, and insomnia. It may also raise blood pressure.

5. What are the common side effects of Wegovy?

Wegovy can cause gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. It may also lead to more serious health issues like thyroid tumors and pancreatitis.

6. Who should not take Phentermine?

Phentermine is not suitable for people with a history of cardiovascular diseases, glaucoma, hyperthyroidism, or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

7. Who should avoid using Wegovy?

Wegovy should be avoided by individuals with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or those with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2.

8. How fast can I see results with Phentermine compared to Wegovy?

Weight loss with Phentermine can be rapid initially, mainly due to its strong appetite suppressant effects. Wegovy typically shows a gradual weight loss over time, aligning more with recommended healthy weight loss rates.

9. Can Phentermine and Wegovy be combined for better results?

Combining Phentermine and Wegovy is not typically recommended without medical supervision due to potential interactions and increased side effects. Always consult a healthcare provider before combining weight loss medications.

10. What should I consider when choosing between Phentermine and Wegovy?

Consider factors such as your health profile, weight loss goals, tolerance for specific side effects, and the need for short-term versus long-term weight management. Consulting with a healthcare provider is crucial to choose the medication that best suits your individual needs.

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About the author

Peter Williams has over 20 years of experience as an endocrinologist. Peter specializes in the study of diabetes, thyroid and parathyroid disorders, obesity, lipids disorders, and hormonal imbalances. He is actively involved in research investigating new medications and technologies for managing these chronic conditions.