Wegovy and Orlistat are both medication designed to help with weight loss. They are approved for long term weight management in obese or overweight individuals. However they do differ in the way they work, their dosage, administration method and side effects.

Wegovy is an injectable pen for weight loss. Its active ingredient is semaglutide, a prescription-only medication classified as a GLP-1 Receptor Agonist.

This injection targets a specific part of the brain that manages appetite. Its mechanism involves slowing down stomach emptying, helping to curb hunger and provide a lasting sense of fullness. It is a relatively new medication with promising results for losing weight. 

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Orlistat is the active ingredient in Xenical and Prolistat. It belongs to a group of medicines called lipase inhibitors. Orlistat/Prolistat works by targeting the absorption of dietary fats in the body rather than suppressing appetite. It is to be used with a reduced calorie diet, low fat diet, and exercise program to achieve weight loss.

Information on Orlistat

The difference between Wegovy for weight loss vs Orlistat for weight loss

Wegovy is a weekly injection to help adults who struggle with weight loss and its maintenance. To avoid the side effects of Wegovy the dose starts low at 0.25mg. It increases monthly for 5 months until it reaches a maintenance dose of 2.4mg. The injection is in a disposable pen with a built -in needle, making it easy to administer in the fatty tissue on the lower abdomen, thigh or upper arm.

Orlistat or better known as Xenical capsules are 120mg in strength and are to be taken one with each meal, three times a day. It’s advisable to use Xenical alongside a balanced calorie-controlled diet that includes less fat and more vegetables and fruits.

Wegovy suppresses appetite and may be more suitable for individuals struggling with overeating or have intense hunger.

Orlistat, however, addresses weight loss by reducing fat absorption and is effective as long as diet is followed. 

Both Wegovy and Orlistat have demonstrated to be safe and effective in weight management. However research shows Wegovy allows for weight loss of up to 15-20%. Whereas Orlistat may lead to a loss of 4-8% in the same time frame.

Wegovy for weight loss is yet not available in Australia. It has been registered since 2022 however is yet to make its debut to the Australian public. It has shown promising results worldwide and would be considered a good option for those starting their weight loss journey.

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Orlistat on the other hand is readily available in various pack sizes from pharmacies. It does require a pharmacists intervention as Xenical is not suitable for everyone. Individuals need to inform their pharmacist with accurate information regarding their health.

All medicines have side effects and individuals considering to be on these medicines should consult a doctor in detail about the signs and symptoms to look out for.

Wegovy side effects include nausea, diarrhoea and fatigue. Individuals do get a reduced appetite and sometimes injection site reactions. It is best to avoid Wegovy if you have specific conditions like history of pancreatitis or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome.

Orlistat side effects are bowel discomfort, abdominal pain and fatty stools. The serious rare ones include dark urine, light stools or loss of appetite. People should tell a health professional as soon as they experience these.

In order to have accurate weight management, regular monitoring and follow ups are crucial components. Ongoing assessments are important to address patients’ response to the medication, potential side effects and their overall well being.

Wegovy is a prescription medication and once available would need to be prescribed and managed by a doctor and pharmacist team for effective weight loss.

Orlistat monitoring can be a challenge though as individuals can shop from different pharmacies and self diagnose, monitor and treat in some cases. A pharmacist intervention is crucial for effective weight loss.

For individuals who experience an allergic reaction or cannot tolerate the side effects there are other options. They include tablets, injections, or even surgical procedures.

Why is weight loss important?

Weight loss medication is important in adult with a BMI of 30 or higher. They are also recommended in those with a BMI of 27 or higher with a weight related condition.

Overall, studies have found that a decrease in 5% of body weight can have very positive effect on health. Although no weight loss medication can effectively work without a healthy diet and increased physical exercise.

Patients wanting to begin the weight loss journey through these medications should have a review their medical history. A thorough evaluation should be conducted before a medication is suggested or prescribed. To initiate this journey seeking guidance from a doctor is essential.

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XENICAL orlistat 120mg | Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)