Better than Ozempic? New drug tirzepatide more effective at treating diabetes and obesity

THESSALONIKI, Greece — A new drug treatment for patients with Type 2 diabetes appears to do a better job of controlling blood sugar levels and aiding in weight loss than the popular medication semaglutide. Greek researchers discovered that the drug tirzepatide outperforms semaglutide — available under brand names Ozempic and Wegovy.

Both semaglutide and tirzepatide are used in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. While semaglutide is already approved for weight loss management, tirzepatide is making its way in that direction, with manufacturers filing applications for its approval for this purpose.

Rather than conducting a new experiment, researchers at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki aggregated results from 22 individual studies, a method called a meta-analysis, to draw conclusions on the effectiveness and safety of the two drugs. This meta-analysis involved data from 18,472 patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

The key measure in this research was HbA1c (glycated haemoglobin). HbA1c is an indicator used to measure long-term blood sugar control.

In their findings, researchers discovered that patients who took tirzepatide witnessed a greater reduction in their HbA1c levels and experienced more weight loss compared to those who took semaglutide. Tirzepatide’s 15 mg dosage resulted in an average weight loss of 10.96 Kg, while the 2.0 mg dosage of semaglutide led to an average weight loss of 5.24 Kg (11.55 pounds).

This means that, on average, individuals taking tirzepatide 15 mg lost 5.72kg (12.6 lbs) more than those on semaglutide 2.0 mg.

Semaglutide Rx medical pills in plastic Bottle
Semaglutide Rx medical pills in plastic Bottle (Credit: Shutterstock)

Are there side-effects?

While both drugs are effective, they weren’t without side-effects. Compared to a placebo (a fake drug with no therapeutic effect), all doses of both drugs had an increased risk for gastrointestinal issues. High doses of tirzepatide (15 mg) had a notable association with a higher risk of nausea and vomiting compared to certain doses of semaglutide.

“In people with Type 2 diabetes, tirzepatide 5, 10, and 15 mg were more efficacious in reducing HbA1c compared to semaglutide 0.5, 1.0, and 2.0 mg, respectively,” researchers say in a media release. “Tirzepatide also was also more effective for weight loss than semaglutide, with a larger weight-loss effect at higher doses. High-dose tirzepatide (15 mg) was associated with increased risk for vomiting versus low- and medium-dose semaglutide.”

The findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Hamburg, Germany, in October.

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