What is Ozempic and what is it used for?
Ozempic is a brand of semaglutide a type of diabetes medication used with diet and exercise to treat adults whose type 2 diabetes is not satisfactorily controlled. Ozempic can be used on its own in patients who cannot take metformin (another diabetes medicine). It can also be used as an ‘add-on’ to other diabetes medicines.
Ozempic was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2017. Ozempic is not currently available in an oral pill form. However, Rybelsus, a similar medication containing the active drug semaglutide, has been FDA-approved in an oral tablet form.
Ozempic is not FDA-approved for weight management. However, in some cases, doctors may prescribe this drug off-label for weight management. Off-label drug use means prescribing a drug for a purpose other than what it’s been approved for by the FDA.
How does Ozempic work?
The active ingredient in Ozempic, semaglutide, is a ‘GLP-1 receptor agonist’. It acts in the same way as GLP-1 (a hormone produced in the gut) by increasing the amount of insulin that the pancreas releases in response to food. This helps with the control of blood glucose levels. Studies showed that Ozempic is effective at lowering blood glucose levels and reducing the risk of health complications in patients with type 2 diabetes.
What is the most important information I should know about Ozempic?
Ozempic may cause serious side effects, including:
• Possible thyroid tumors, including cancer. Tell your healthcare provider if you get a lump or swelling in your neck, hoarseness, trouble swallowing, or shortness of breath. These may be symptoms of thyroid cancer. In studies with rodents, Ozempic® and medicines that work like Ozempic caused thyroid tumors, including thyroid cancer. It is not known if Ozempic will cause thyroid tumors or a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) in people.
• Do not use Ozempic if you or any of your family have ever had MTC, or if you have an endocrine system condition called Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).
Do not use Ozempic If:
• you or any of your family have ever had MTC or if you have MEN 2.
• you are allergic to semaglutide or any of the ingredients in Ozempic. See symptoms of serious allergic reaction in
Before using Ozempic, tell your healthcare provider if you have any other medical conditions, including if you:
• have or have had problems with your pancreas or kidneys.
• have a history of diabetic retinopathy.
• are pregnant or breastfeeding or plan to become pregnant or breastfeed. It is not known if Ozempic will harm your unborn baby or passes into your breast milk. You should stop using Ozempic 2 months before you plan to become pregnant.
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal supplements, and other medicines to treat diabetes, including insulin or sulfonylureas.
How To Safely Use Ozempic
Ozempic is available as a solution for injection in prefilled pens and can only be obtained with a prescription. It is injected under the skin of the belly, the thigh or the upper arm.
The starting dose of Ozempic is 0.25 mg once a week. After four weeks, this dose should be increased to 0.5 mg. If needed, the dose can be further increased up to a maximum of 1 mg once a week. For further information, see the package leaflet.
What are the possible side effects of Ozempic?
The most common side effects of Ozempic® may include:
- Stomach (abdominal) pain
Ozempic may also cause serious side effects, including:
• inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis). Stop using Ozempic® and call your health care provider right away if you have severe pain in your stomach area (abdomen) that will not go away, with or without vomiting. You may feel the pain from your abdomen to your back.
• changes in vision. Tell your health care provider if you have changes in vision during treatment with Ozempic.
• low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Your risk for getting low blood sugar may be higher if you use Ozempic with another medicine that can cause low blood sugar, such as sulfonylurea or insulin. Signs and symptoms of low blood sugar may include dizziness or Lightheadedness, blurred vision, anxiety, irritability or mood changes, sweating, slurred speech, hunger, confusion or drowsiness, shakiness, weakness, headache, fast heartbeat, and feeling jittery.
• kidney problems (kidney failure). In people who have kidney problems, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting may cause a loss of fluids (dehydration), which may cause kidney problems to get worse. It is important for you to drink fluids to help reduce your chance of dehydration.
• serious allergic reactions. Stop using Ozempic and get medical help right away if you have any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat; problems breathing or swallowing; severe rash or itching; fainting or feeling dizzy; or very rapid heartbeat.
• gallbladder problems. Gallbladder problems have happened in some people who take Ozempic. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get symptoms which may include: pain in your upper stomach (abdomen), fever, yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice), or clay-colored stools.