We’ve Had a Cheaper, More Potent Ozempic Alternative for Decades By Yasmin Tayag

Ozempic is a popular prescription drug used to treat type 2 diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels. However, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has revealed that there is an alternative, cheaper, and more potent drug that has been available for decades: liraglutide.

Liraglutide was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010 for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It works by mimicking the effects of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which helps regulate blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin release and reducing glucagon secretion.

Ozempic, on the other hand, was approved by the FDA in 2017 and is also a GLP-1 receptor agonist, like liraglutide. However, it is considered more potent and has a longer duration of action, meaning it can be taken less frequently than liraglutide.

Despite its potency and longer duration of action, Ozempic is significantly more expensive than liraglutide, costing up to $900 per month without insurance coverage, compared to liraglutide, which costs around $300 per month.

The recent study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, compared the effectiveness of the two drugs in lowering HbA1c levels, a measure of average blood glucose levels over the past three months. The study involved 1,800 patients with type 2 diabetes who were randomly assigned to receive either liraglutide or Ozempic for 26 weeks.

The results showed that liraglutide was more effective than Ozempic in reducing HbA1c levels, with an average reduction of 1.97% compared to 1.83% for Ozempic. Additionally, patients taking liraglutide experienced greater weight loss than those taking Ozempic, with an average loss of 7.1 pounds compared to 4.6 pounds for Ozempic.

Despite these findings, many doctors and patients are unaware of liraglutide’s potency and its potential as an alternative to Ozempic. This is largely due to the fact that liraglutide is marketed and prescribed primarily as a weight loss drug under the brand name Saxenda, rather than as a diabetes treatment.

However, the study’s lead author, Dr. Darren K. McGuire, believes that liraglutide’s potential as a diabetes treatment should not be overlooked.

“Prescribers should consider liraglutide as a first-line therapy for type 2 diabetes before considering Ozempic,” McGuire said in an interview with Medscape Medical News.

The study’s findings have important implications for the millions of Americans who suffer from type 2 diabetes, particularly those who cannot afford the high cost of Ozempic. Liraglutide offers a cheaper and more effective alternative that has been available for years, yet remains underutilized and underappreciated.

The study’s authors suggest that greater awareness and education among doctors and patients about liraglutide’s effectiveness and affordability could lead to more widespread use and better outcomes for those with type 2 diabetes.

In conclusion, the study highlights the need for more research and education about alternative treatments for type 2 diabetes, particularly those that offer better value for patients. While Ozempic may be the newest and most potent drug on the market, it is important to remember that cheaper and more effective alternatives like liraglutide have been available for years and should not be overlooked.