Contrave vs. Ozempic: A Side-By-Side Comparison

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Do you struggle with weight loss? If so, you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 73% of adults 20 years of age and older are overweight or obese.

This puts you at a greater risk for myriad health conditions. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, among others. Fortunately, there are many effective treatments, including new weight loss medications like Contrave and Ozempic, that can help.

This article gives you a side-by-side comparison of Contrave vs Ozempic. It will help you determine which is right for your health goals. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Ozempic?

Ozempic is an antidiabetic drug that helps control blood sugar levels. It can be especially effective for people dealing with type 2 diabetes. It is taken as an injection once a week.

Ozempic is a brand name for the drug semaglutide. This mimics a natural hormone, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), that the body naturally produces. It aids in the regulation of blood sugar levels.

As GLP-1 levels rise, your body indicates the presence of food. This both tells your brain that you are full and prompts the pancreas to make insulin.

Semaglutide is a GLP-1 agonist, which means it synthetically creates these same effects. It is easy to see how this can curb overeating and help regulate blood sugar levels.

Ozempic was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017. It has been cleared as safe for long-term use in patients with hypoglycemia and related conditions.

What Is Contrave?

Contrave is a medication prescribed to combat chronic obesity through weight loss. It is taken as a pill, usually once or twice daily.

Contrave has two active ingredients: naltrexone and bupropion. Naltrexone binds to and blocks opioid receptors in the brain. This helps thwart the sedating and euphoric effects caused by different substances.

These include opioids–such as heroin, morphine, or prescription pain medications–as well as alcohol. For this reason, naltrexone is used for people recovering from addiction.

Contrave makes use of these effects to target the brain’s appetite regulatory center and its mesolimbic reward system. These tell your body it needs to eat and produce a sense of satiety when it does so.

The problem is that any food–including high-calorie and/or unhealthy food–will produce these results. In short, naltrexone helps you control cravings by diminishing this effect.

Bupropion inhibits the reuptake of two neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine. These can help induce feelings of satisfaction and pleasure.

Bupropion has been around since 1969. It has been used in other medications, like Wellbutrin, to address depression, attention deficit disorder, and seasonal affective disorder, and to help people stop smoking.

The FDA approved Contrave for prescription use in 2014. People who are obese can use it, as well as those who are overweight with at least one comorbidity. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and others.

Contrave vs Ozempic: Effectiveness

Both Contrave and Ozempic can be effective at combatting the effects of obesity. In one study, people taking Contrave lost between 4% and 5% more weight than those taking a placebo. Also, between 39% and 48% of those on Contrave lost 5% or more of their body weight, compared to just 16% in the placebo group.

The biggest difference between Contrave vs Ozempic is that Ozempic is not approved by the FDA only for weight loss purposes. However, higher doses of the medication have been approved for weight loss. This dose usually goes by the brand name “Wegovy” or its generic Semaglutide.

Based on the description above, it is easy to see how Ozempic can cause weight loss, even if that is not its express purpose. One of the reasons that Ozempic is not prescribed only for weight loss is that the body can adapt to the presence of semaglutide.

This can cause a weight-loss plateau. In short, Ozempic (in its standard dose) can remain effective at regulating blood sugar levels, even when its weight-loss advantages begin to taper.

Contrave vs Ozempic: Side Effects

Both Contrave and Ozempic can cause gastrointestinal issues. These include nausea, vomiting constipation, and diarrhea.

Since they are very different medications, Contrave and Ozempic have unique side effects as well. Contrave has been shown to increase blood pressure and hypertension in some patients, as well as dry mouth and tremors (in rare cases). In addition to the symptoms above, Ozempic has caused vision changes and pancreatitis in some patients.

The FDA recently added a “black box warning,” its strongest word of caution, for users of Ozempic. This was related to an increased risk of ileus.

This is a blockage that keeps liquids or food from passing through the colon. The warning was based on a very small reported incidence of people using the medication.

The FDA has also issued a warning about using semaglutide, the main ingredient in Ozempic, along with insulin. Together, they can increase the risk of hypoglycemia and similar conditions. If you are currently taking insulin for diabetes, be sure to mention this to your medical provider.

Contrave also has a block box warning from the FDA. While an antidepressant, the active ingredient bupropion has produced suicidal thoughts in some patients.

This almost always accompanies other depressive or psychiatric conditions. It is, however, something to keep in mind if you plan to take Contrave.

Note that there is no generic alternative to either Contrave or Ozempic. The FDA warns against taking supposed generic off-brand drugs that purport to have the same effects as Ozempic or Contrave.

Learn More About Diabetes and Weight Loss Medications

Now that you understand the differences between Contrave vs Ozempic, you can decide which is best for your health goals. While they work in very different ways, both can be effective at achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and combating associated health threats.

Recovery Delivered has the goal of addressing two of the main barriers that keep from recovery: access to care and dedicating large amounts of time to the effort. We offer convenient online services, including medication-assisted treatment. Sign up today to begin accessing diabetes and weight management medications.

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