The pros and cons of the four weight-loss drugs available on the market in Spain

The pros and cons of the four weight-loss drugs available on the market in Spain

Saxenda, Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro have changed the obesity treatment scenario in the country, but they all have positive and negative points - being expensive and sometimes difficult to find

Iván Gelibter


Tuesday, 9 July 2024, 14:34

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First came Saxenda, but it was not until the emergence of Ozempic that obesity treatment started to change around the world. A "revolution", as defined by Francisco J. Tinahones, scientific director of Ibima and an expert in the field. But the illusion turned to frustration, because the demand was such that finding a box of this drug in a pharmacy became a real mission impossible.

Today, we are no longer in that scenario, but the debate about this type of medicine ranges from the health side (perhaps the strongest point) to the social side, because the fact that it works does not mean that it is reaching everyone. Only Ozempic has real state aid in Spain, and is therefore the only one that is somewhat more accessible, although not for all pockets as the four-week treatment costs about 128 euros.

The four drugs currently on the market work in Spain in a similar way, although they do not all have the same pharmacological principle. In general, they work by mimicking a hormone that regulates appetite and creates the sensation of feeling full, which has been shown to produce an average reduction of 6 to 25% of body weight in one year, depending on the drug and the patient.

Side effects are usually minimal (nausea or vomiting), and do not always occur. In all cases the drug is administered as an injection under the skin (subcutaneous). Here are the differences between them.

  1. First to market


Although it is not the best known of the four, Saxenda was the first drug of its kind to reach the market in Spain, about four years ago.

The best: Being the first to go on sale, it is clearly the one that has undergone the most testing, with no contraindications or major side effects so far. It is manufactured by Novo Nordisk.

The worst: Saxenda is clearly the least ambitious of these drugs. This means that it is the one that loses the least percentage of body weight compared to the others. Specifically, an estimated 8% of the total, half that of the competition. In addition, it has to be injected daily rather than weekly.

Price: Between 185 and 283 euros per month.

  1. The drug that changed the market


Ozempic was the second of these drugs to hit the market in Spain, but it was undoubtedly the one that changed everything. Like Saxenda, it was initially designed to control glucose in type 2 diabetics, but it was soon realised that it caused weight loss on an unprecedented scale. Its pharmacological principle is semaglutide, and its laboratory, Novo Nordisk, has grown exponentially since then.

The best thing: Without a doubt, the quality-price ratio. It is the cheapest of all and allows you to lose approximately 18% of your total body weight, which has changed the lives of many people with obesity thanks to just one shot a week.

The worst: Despite the time elapsed, it is still a very difficult drug to find in Spanish pharmacies, causing frustration.

Price: 128 euros per month.

  1. The solution to out of stock problems


It is not that Wegovy is similar to Ozempic, it is that it is exactly the same pharmacological principle produced by the same laboratory, Novo Nordisk. Wegovy is not prescribed to type 2 diabetics, but exclusively to people with obesity.

The best: Wegovy has, pharmacologically speaking, the same virtues as Ozempic, with the addition that it is marketed in higher doses, which therefore allows a higher rate of weight loss. Moreover, there is no problem with stock in pharmacies.

The worst: The most negative aspect of Wegovy is the price, as it is not financed by the social security system, which makes it inaccessible to many.

Price: Between 130 and 290 euros per month.

  1. The last to arrive to market, but the most powerful one


Mounjaro, like the others, works by mimicking a hormone that regulates appetite and creates the feeling of fullness. What is new is that, in the latter case, it is a dual drug with more elements and therefore more potent for weight loss. It is produced by Lilly, went on sale this week and its arrival threatens the reign of Novo Nordisk.

The best: The studies that have been done announce the average weight loss is more than 20% of the total. By comparison, in the case of Ozempic or Wegovy, this figure was barely 18. This more than five percentage points, translated into kilos, makes a huge difference.

Concept: It has just been released and is the least tested of all. And the price is high.

Price: Between 150 and 300 euros per month.

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