What is Ozempic (Semaglutide)?
Ozempic is a brand name for Semaglutide which is used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a class of drugs called anti-diabetics, Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Agonists.
- Ozempic is not an insulin
- Ozempic is not indicted for treatment with type 1 diabetes
- Ozempic has not been studied in patients with pancreatitis and should not be used by patients who have had a history with this condition (pancreatitis).
- It is not known if it is safe and effective for adults under the age of 18 years of age
Ozempic is used in combination with diet and exercise to help improve glycemic control and reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications (CV death, nonfatal stroke and nonfatal myocardial infarction).
In addition to lowering blood glucose levels, Ozempic aids patients with weight loss, appetite suppression and lowering blood pressure levels.
How is Ozempic used?
Ozempic can be used alone or with other medications. It is administered as a weekly injection. It is available as a single-use injection pen that is safe and easy to use.
Does Ozempic need to be refrigerated?
Yes. If you have excess Ozempic injectable pens, they should be stored in the refrigerator. The ideal storage is the top shelf of the refrigerator and away from cooling elements. Semaglutide may degrade if the injectable pen is exposed to extreme cold. This can impact the effectiveness of the medication and potentially higher blood sugar levels.
Ozempic should be store in the refrigerator between 36-47°F (2-8°C). After the pen has been used it can be kept within room temperature 59-86°F (5-30°C).
Patients should be informed by their doctors about the potential risks and benefits of using Ozempic. It’s important for patients to maintain a proper diet, regular exercise, regularly monitor glucose levels and perform A1c testing, understand the symptoms of of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia as part of their treatment. While using Ozempic, if patients experience periods of stress, fever, infection, trauma or surgery they should seek medical advice as dosage may need to be adjusted.
Doctors should instruct their patients to read the Medication Guide each time their prescription is renewed.
It’s important to understand the side effects as explained by your doctor or pharmacist. Side effects of Ozempic typically include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
If a dose is missed, it should be administered immediately within 5 days of the missed dose If more than 5 days have elapsed then the dose should be skipped.
Although Ozempic is FDA approved and considered safe when taken as instructed however this does not mean it comes without side effects.
Before you start Ozempic, you should discuss the possible side effects with your doctor or pharmacist. You should also review the FDA-approved labeling and instructions that come with your prescription.
Ozempic has a boxed warning about the risk of C-cell tumors that have occurred in rodents. Even though it is unknown about the effects on humans, it isn’t advised for those who have a history of thyroid cancers in their family.
Common Side Effects
Patients using Ozempic have experienced mild or serious side effects. Side effects typically go away within a few days or weeks. If they do not go away, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
The list below does not include all possible side effects:
- Abdominal pain
- Upset Stomach
- Flatulence (passing gas)
Serious Side Effects
Serious adverse reactions while taking Ozempic aren’t common. If you experience any serious side effects while taking this medication, inform your doctor or call 911 if you feel the symptoms are life-threatening.
Serious side effects and symptoms while taking Ozempic may include:
Symptoms of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas):
- back and abdominal pain
- unintended weight loss
- swollen belly
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar):
- fast heart rate
- feeling jittery
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy (diabetes-related eye complication):
- blurred vision
- poor night vision
- seeing dark spots
- vision loss
Symptoms of kidney damage:
- reduced urination
- swelling in legs or ankles
- Thyroid cancer*
- Allergic reaction*
Side Effect Details
The following provides detailed information on the potential side effects caused by this medication.
Although rare, patients may experience allergic reactions while taking Ozempic if they are allergic to any of its ingredients. Symptoms of allergic reactions may include:
- skin rash
- flushing ( redness, warmth, swelling of skin)
More serious allergic reactions may include:
- difficulty breathing
- swelling of skin, particularly lips, eyelids, hands or feet
- swelling of mouth, tongue or throat
Allergic reactions may differ between patients and it’s unclear how often allergic reactions occur. If you feel that you are experiencing a severe allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately.
The most common side effect reported in clinical studies is nausea. You may first experience symptoms of nausea when you begin taking Ozempic and during increased doses.
With continued use, symptoms of nausea may decrease or go away entirely. Speak to your doctor if symptoms do not go away.
As mentioned previously, Ozempic has a boxed warning, which is the strongest warning by the FDA regarding thyroid cancer.
Ozempic has been found to increase thyroid tumors during animal studies however this has not been concluded in humans.
Cases of thyroid cancer have been reported in patients taking liraglutide (Victoza) which is a similar class of drugs to Ozempic. However it has not been concluded if it is due to liraglutide or other factors.
You should not take Ozempic if you have a family history of thyroid cancer, specifically a rare endocrine condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 or medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC).
If you are showing symptoms of thyroid tumors while taking Ozempic, contact your doctor immediately. These symptoms can include:
- difficulty breathing
- a hoarse voice
- difficulty swallowing
- a mass or lump in your neck
Injection Site Reactions
Injection site reactions (ie injection-site discomfort, erythema) have been reported in 0.2% of patients in placebo-controlled trials.
Increase in Amylase and Lipase
In a placebo-controlled study, patients experienced an increase of Amylase and Lipase from baseline. These changes were not found in the placebo-treated patients.
In placebo-controlled studies that involved treating patients with Ozempic 0.5mg and 1mg reported 1.5% and 0.4% of Cholelithiasis was reported respectively. Placebo-treated patients did not report symptoms of cholelithiasis.
Increased Heart Rate
In placebo-controlled studies, patients using Ozempic 0.5mg and 1mg reported a mean increase of 2-3 beats per minute. Those in the placebo group reported a decrease in heart rate by 0.3 beats per minute.
Dizziness, Dysgeusia & Fatigue
Less than 0.4% of patients experienced dizziness, dysgeusia and fatigue taking Ozempic.
Patients treated with Ozempic may develop anti-semaglutide antibodies which is consistent with immunogenic properties of peptide and protein pharmaceuticals.
Eve though Ozempic (semaglutide) does not cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), it may occur happen if taken with other diabetes medications. Speak t you doctor or pharmacist about whether you need to have your other medication doses adjusted. Hypoglycemia may also be caused by consuming alcohol, not enough exercise or not getting enough calories. Symptoms of hypoglycemia may include blurred vision, headache, dizziness, hunger, increased heartbeat, sweating or tingling hands/feet. It is recommended that patients who experience hypoglycemia carry glucose tablets, hard candy, jelly beans, fruit drink or soda (non-diet) in case of low blood sugar.
Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) may occur. Symptoms include increased thirst or unrination. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you experience these symptoms.
The information above does not include all possible side effects. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you experience any side effects not listed above.
Concomitant use with insulin and insulin secretagogue (ie Sulfonylurea) or insulin may change how your medications work or result in potential complications. A doctor may choose to adjust dosage, exercise and diet.
Since Ozempic causes a delay of gast