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What Exactly Is Ozempic?

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Ozempic is an otc prescription medication that’s used to:

improve blood sugar levels for those suffering from type 2 diabetes. It is also combined with exercise and diet
lower the risk of serious cardiovascular issues in people with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes

This medication is not prescribed to treat type one diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis and typically isn’t recommended for those who have had pancreatitis. Check out the “Ozempic uses” section below for details.

Ozempic is a liquid solution that is administered through subcutaneous injection. It’s a mixture of semaglutide. It’s part of the class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor antagonists (GLP-1 Agonists).

Ozempic can be used by itself or in combination with other medications for diabetes.

Ozempic is pen that you make use of to self-inject the drug. The pen comes as a four-pack:

2 milligrams semaglutide in 1.5 milliliters solution (2 mg/1.5 milliliters)
2 mg/3 mL
4 mg/3 mL
8 mg/3 mL

Each pen provides a different amount of Ozempic.

FDA approval

Ozempic was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December of 2017.

Note: Ozempic is not currently available in an oral pill form. However, Rybelsus, a similar medicine that contains semaglutide, the active ingredient and is FDA-approved trusted Source in tablet form for oral consumption.


For more information about the Ozempic’s efficiency read this “Ozempic uses” section further down.

Ozempic can decrease appetite. As a result, people who suffer from diabetes who take the medication are able to lose weight.

Ozempic has not been approved by FDA for weight management. In some instances, doctors may prescribe this medication off-label for weight loss. Off-label drug use means prescribing an item for a use that is not what it’s approved for by the FDA.

Be sure to only use Ozempic according to the instructions of your physician. If you have any concerns about using Ozempic for weight management, talk with your doctor.

Ozempic is available only as a brand-name drug. It’s a semaglutide-based drug that isn’t currently accessible in a generic form.

Like all medicines, the cost of Ozempic may vary. The cost you pay will be contingent on the insurance coverage you have.

Forms of drugs and strengths

Ozempic is available as pen you can use to self-inject the medication.

At the time you begin to take Ozempic and you are first starting, you could use the 2 mg/1.5 mL or 2 mg/3 pen. If you require a stronger dose of Ozempic to help manage the blood sugar levels in your body, your doctor might prescribe a higher dosage.

Every Ozempic pen has multiple needles. You’ll use a new needle each time you administer an injection.

Ozempic pens are used multiple times, however, you should not share a pen with another person.

Dosage to treat type 2 diabetes

When you first start taking Ozempic dosage, you’ll be taking 0.25 mg every week for four weeks. After this, you’ll take 0.5 mg once per week for four weeks.

Visit this website for information on the Ozempic assistance program.

After four weeks, if you’re blood sugar levels are well-controlled then you’ll be taking 0.5 mg once per week. If you’re required to lower your blood sugar levels more, your doctor could increase the dosage to 1 or 2 mg once each week. The maximum recommended dose for Ozempic amounts to 2 mg weekly.

You must inject your Ozempic injection on the same day each week. You can however administer the injection at any time of the day, either with or without food.

If needed, you can change the day on which you give your injection. If you choose to do so, you must have had that last injection at minimum 48 hours prior to the new date you’re planning to administer the injection.

What if I miss a dose?

If you’ve missed a dose, take it at the time you remember, so long as it’s within five days of the day on which the dose was missed. Then , take the next dose on the regular schedule.

If more than 5 days have passed or if the time of your next scheduled dose only one or two days away, you should not take the dose that you missed. Instead, just take the next dose on the next scheduled day.

Will I need to use this drug long term?

Yes, this medication is usually used for a long time to treat type 2 diabetes, and to lower the risk of heart problems.

Ozempic can cause moderate or serious side effects. The following list outlines some of the major side effects that may occur when taking Ozempic. This list is not exhaustive and does not cover every possible side effect.

For more information about the possible side effects of Ozempic or advice on how to manage the effects of a side effect that is troubling discuss the issue with your doctor or pharmacist.

More common side effects

The more common side effects of Ozempic can be:

stomach pain
stomach upset
flatulence (passing gas)

These side effects can go away within a few days or weeks. If they’re severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Severe side effects associated with Ozempic aren’t common, but they do happen. Make sure to consult your doctor immediately when you’re experiencing severe side effects. Contact 911 if you feel life threatening or if you believe you’re suffering from an medical emergency.

Side effects that are serious and their symptoms could include:

Thyroid cancer. *
Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). It can be characterized by:
the back or belly
Unintended weight loss
swollen belly
Hyperglycemia (low levels of blood sugar). The symptoms can include:
feeling jittery
fast heartbeat
Diabetic retinal disease (diabetes-related eye issues). The symptoms can include:
blurred vision
vision loss
seeing dark spots
poor night vision
Kidney damage. Symptoms can include:
decreased urinary frequency
swelling in your ankles and legs
Gallbladder disease. Symptoms can be:
gallstones, which can cause abdominal pain nausea, vomiting, and fever
Cholecystitis (inflammation in your gallbladder)
Allergy reaction. *

* For more information on this side effect see “Side effects details” below.

Side effect details

You may be wondering how often certain side effects can occur when using this medication. Here’s an overview of the side effects that this drug could cause.

Allergy reaction

Like most medications certain people may experience an allergic reaction after taking Ozempic. A mild allergic reaction can include:

skin rash

A more severe allergic reaction is extremely rare, but it’s possible. The signs of a severe allergic reaction could be:

the skin’s swelling, typically in your eyelids, hands, lips, or feet
swelling of your mouth, tongue or throat
Trouble breathing

It’s unclear how often allergic reactions have occurred in people taking Ozempic in clinical trials. However, severe adverse reactions due in response to Ozempic have been observed.

Get your doctor’s attention immediately when you experience a severe reaction to the Ozempic. Call 911 or your local emergency number if you’re symptoms are life-threatening or if you believe you’re experiencing an emergency medical situation.


Nausea is the most commonly reported reaction to Ozempic. It’s more likely to occur the moment you begin taking Ozempic as well as when you take more of it.

Nausea may decrease or disappear with continuing usage of Ozempic. If it isn’t going away or becomes more severe discuss it with your doctor.


People who take Ozempic may suffer from heartburn, however this isn’t a common occurrence.

The side effect could decrease or disappear with the continuing use of the medication. If it continues to persist or gets more severe speak to your doctor.

Headache is a normal adverse effect of Ozempic. This side effect may decrease or disappear with continued treatment with the drug. If it doesn’t go away or it becomes severe, talk with your doctor.

Thyroid cancer

Ozempic comes with a boxed warningTrusted source from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the possible risk of thyroid cancer. A boxed warning is the most powerful warning that the FDA demands.

In animal studies Ozempic heightened the possibility of developing thyroid tumors. However, it’s not known if Ozempic causes thyroid tumors in humans.

There have been instances of thyroid cancer in patients taking the drug liraglutide (Victoza) which is a drug in the same drug class as Ozempic. However, it’s still unclear whether these cases were caused by liraglutide or something else.

Because of the possible risk of thyroid cancer It is recommended not to use Ozempic if yourself or a member of your immediate family have ever suffered from a type of cancer known as medullary carcinoma (MTC), or a rare condition called multiple endocrine tumor syndrome type 2.

In the event that you’re taking Ozempic, and have symptoms of a thyroid tumor get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible. Symptoms can include:

a mass or lump in your neck
trouble with swallowing
trouble breathing
a hoarse voice

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows prescription drugs like Ozempic for treating certain ailments. Ozempic can also also be used in conjunction with other conditions. Off-label use occurs when a prescription drug cleared to treat a particular condition is used to treat another condition.

Ozempic for improving blood sugar levels with type 2 diabetes

Ozempic is FDA-approved to increase blood sugar levels of adults suffering from type 2 diabetes and also to improve lifestyles through eating habits and exercise. (Ozempic was also approved for reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems, and this use is described just below.)

Ozempic can be prescribed as a single medication or in combination with other diabetes medicines.

It’s important that you know Ozempic isn’t used to treat type one diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis. Also, it’s not usually prescribed for those who have suffered from pancreatitis before.

Effectiveness for type 2 diabetes

Ozempic was found to be effective in treating type 2 diabetes. To learn more about how Ozempic performed in clinical trials, refer to the prescription information for the drug.

Guidelines from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggest using a GLP-1 antagonist, such as Ozempic for people with type 2 diabetes who also have one of the following ailments:

heart disease (CVD) or a high risk of developing CVD
kidney disease
heart failure

The same guidelines recommend taking a different drug for treating type 2 diabetes, like an agonist of GLP-1 like Ozempic, as an option for people suffering from type 2 diabetes in whom metformin isn’t enough to lower the blood sugar levels.

Ozempic for lowering risk of cardiovascular problems

Ozempic has been approved by FDA to lower the risk of serious heart problems for people suffering from heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These risks include heart attack, stroke and even death due to cardiovascular disease.

(Ozempic has also been approved to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. This usage is described before.)

It’s important that you know Ozempic isn’t used for type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis. The medication is not commonly prescribed to patients who have experienced pancreatitis before.

The effectiveness of heart disease

In clinical trials, Ozempic was found to reduce the risk of heart problems in some adults. Find Ozempic’s prescribing info for details on its effectiveness in clinical tests.

Guidelines issued by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggest using a GLP-1 antagonist like Ozempic in people with kind 2 diabetes and who may be at an a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Use off-label

Ozempic isn’t FDA-approved for treatment of type 1 diabetes. It has not been studied in people with this condition. In certain cases, Ozempic may be used on its own to treat type 1 diabetes.

A medication in that same group as Ozempic, the drug liraglutide (Victoza), has been examined in patients suffering from type 1 diabetes. Research has shown that liraglutide could reduce blood sugar levels and also reduce body weight, however it does not appear to increase HbA1c.

Certain experts recommend that Ozempic and other medicines in the same class are not suitable for those suffering from Type 1 Diabetes. They believe the danger of adverse effects from these drugs outweighs the potential advantages of using them for people with type 1 diabetes.

Other drugs are available that may help treat type 2 diabetes , or reduce the risk of developing serious cardiovascular issues. Certain medications may be more suitable for you than others. If you’re in the market for alternatives to Ozempic discuss it with your doctor to learn more about other medications that could work well for you.

Examples of medications that could alternative to Ozempic for type 2 diabetes include the following drugs.

Alternatives to improve blood sugar levels and decreasing the chance of having cardiovascular problems

glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 agonists) for example:
dulaglutide (Trulicity)
exenatide (Bydureon, Byetta)
liraglutide (Victoza)
lixisenatide (Adlyxin)
sodium-glucose Co-Transporter 2. (SGLT2) inhibitors, for example:
canagliflozin (Invokana)
dapagliflozin (Farxiga)
empagliflozin (Jardiance)
ertugliflozin (Steglatro)
metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, Riomet) is a majoruanide
dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors such as:
Alogliptin (Nesina)
linagliptin (Tradjenta)
saxagliptin (Onglyza)
sitagliptin (Januvia)
thiazolidinediones such as:
pioglitazone (Actos)
rosiglitazone (Avandia)

Furthermore, the following drugs are alternatives to improving glucose levels in the blood:

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors like:
miglitol (Glyset)
Sulfonylureas like:
glimepiride (Amaryl)
glipizide (Glucotrol)
glyburide (Diabeta, Glynase Prestabs)

You may wonder how Ozempic compares to other medicines that are prescribed for similar uses. Here we look at how Ozempic and Trulicity are alike and different. You can also see this comprehensive article which explains the two medications.


Ozempic and Trulicity have been approved by FDA to:

blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes, in conjunction with exercise and diet
adult with heart diseases and Type 2 Diabetes

Ozempic along with Trulicity (dulaglutide) and Trulicity (dulaglutide) are part of the same class of medications known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor antagonists (GLP-1 agonists). This means they work exactly the same way to improve blood sugar levels in patients suffering from type 2 diabetes.

Drug forms and administration

Ozempic and Trulicity both are available as liquid solutions available in pen. Both are self-injected each week.


The price of Ozempic or Victoza could vary based on your treatment plan. The price you’ll pay for either medication will depend on the insurance plan you have along with your location as well as the pharmacy you go to.

You may wonder how Wegovy compares with Ozempic. Both of these medications contain the active drug, semaglutide. However, they are different in their permitted applications.

Wegovy has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for long-term weight control in conjunction with exercising and a low-calorie diet.

Ozempic cannot be approved by the FDA for weight management. However, in certain instances, doctors may prescribe the drug off-label to weight management. Off-label means prescribing a drug for a purpose that is not what it’s authorized from the FDA.

Ozempic was approved by the FDA for

manage blood sugar levels in adults suffering from type 2 diabetes, along with exercise and diet
lower the risk of having serious cardiovascular problems for adults with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes

Ozempic and Wegovy each come as pen which you make use of to inject the medication yourself. They tend to cause many of the same adverse effects, and each has a warning labeled on the box about the risk of developing thyroid cancer. Look over for details in the “Ozempic adverse effects” section above for details.

Your physician or pharmacist can give you more details about the way these medications are compared.

Ozempic can be prescribed by it’s own, or in combination with other drugs to help improve blood sugar levels of people who suffer from the type 2 form of diabetes. In the treatment of diabetes the use of two or more drugs may often be used together in the event that one medication isn’t improving blood sugar levels to a sufficient degree.

Examples of diabetes drugs which can be used along with Ozempic include:

canagliflozin (Invokana)
dapagliflozin (Farxiga)
glimepiride (Amaryl)
glipizide (Glucotrol)
glyburide (Diabeta, Glynase Prestabs)

insulin glargine (Lantus, Toujeo)
metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, Riomet)
pioglitazone (Actos)

Keep in mind Ozempic could be prescribed together with an exercise and diet plan that’s suitable for your health. Be sure to follow your diabetes treatment plan as recommended by your physician.

You should take Ozempic precisely as directed by your healthcare professional.

How to inject

Ozempic is an injectable pen that is administered subcutaneously. There are several steps in giving yourself the injection. For full instructions on how to use your Ozempic pen, check out the website for the drug. Here are the basic steps:

Step 1. Get your pen ready.

Cleanse your hands before washing them.
Pull off the pen cap. Set aside.
Check the pen window to make sure the solution is colorless and clear. (If it isn’t, don’t use that pen.)
Use a brand new needle for the pen. (A new needle must be used every time you make use of the pen.)
Take off the needle’s outer cap. Then, remove the needle cap inside. Both caps can be discarded in the trash.

Step 2. Review your Ozempic flow.

This should be done before the first injection with every pen you purchase. If you’ve already completed this step prior to previous injections with the pen that you’re currently using, you can skip step 3.

Hold the pen with the needle pointed upwards.
Turn the dose counter until it shows the flow check symbol. (It appears like two dots with a line.)
Hold and press the dose button until the counter for dose shows zero. An Ozempic drop should be visible at the tip of the needle.
If you don’t see any drop, repeat the procedure up to six times. If you are unable to see drops after six times then replace the needle and attempt again.
If you don’t see a drop you shouldn’t be using the pen. Place it in the sharps container. (You are able to purchase a sharps container at your nearest pharmacy.)

Step 3. Select your dose.

Make sure to turn the dose selector on until you’ve seen your dose (either 0.25, 0.5, 1, or 2.).

Step 4. Dose the medication.

Make sure you clean your skin at the injection site with an alcohol swipe.
Inject the needle into your skin and hold the needle in the desired position.
Hold the dose button until the counter for the dose shows 0.
If the counter for the dose shows zero, count slowly until six before removing this needle. This ensures you get the entire dose.

Step 5. Remove the needle.

Remove the needle from the pen.
Place the used needle in sharps containers.
Place the cap back on the pen.

Take note that after using the Ozempic pen are allowed to continue to use it for at least 56 days. At the end of 56 days, your prescription expires and it is time to dispose of the pen.

Where to inject

Ozempic can be injected into your abdomen (belly) or thigh or upper arm. The same location is used every time you inject the drug, but you need to change the location where you inject within that area.


Ozempic may be taken anytime during the day. The injections should be administered every day each week. If required, you can alter the day on which you give yourself Ozempic injections. If you decide to change the day ensure that you rest at least 2 more days in between the injections.

Ideally, take the drug at roughly the same time each day, even if you change the day. If you’re concerned about changing the time of your injection, consult with your doctor.

Then, you can take Ozempic with food

Ozempic can be injected in conjunction with, or with no food.

Doing Ozempic with insulin

Your healthcare professional may prescribe Ozempic to be used together with insulin. Ozempic and insulin may be administered at the same time of day. It is also possible to inject them into the same spot on the body, such as the abdomen. However you shouldn’t inject them into the same location.

Do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol when taking Ozempic. Alcohol can alter blood sugar levels and raise your risk of low blood sugar.

If you drink alcohol, discuss with your physician about how much is safe for you.

Ozempic may interact with other medications. It also can interfere with certain supplements.

Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, certain interactions can hinder the way a drug works and others may cause an increase in unwanted side consequences.