What is semaglutide?
Semaglutide acts similar to a human glucagon peptide-1 (GLP-1) that works similar to a hormone produced in our body called incretin. Incretin stimulates insulin secretion and sugar metabolism in response to increased glucose levels which usually occurs after meals. Patients with type 2 diabetes are usually at a total loss with incretin production.
In addition to lowering blood sugar levels, Ozempic lowers blood pressure, suppresses appetite and assists in chronic weight management.
It is also used for patients with heart disease and reduces the risk of death from stroke or heart attack.
Semaglutide should be used in combination with a proper diet and regular exercise.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is the brand name of semaglutide which is an anti-diabetic (non-insulin) medication used to treat adults with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Benefits of using Ozempic include:
- improve glycemic control
- prevents blindness
- prevents kidney damage
- reduce loss of limbs
- reduce loss of sexual function
- prevent cardiovascular complications
It is not intended to be used as a substitute for insulin treatment.
Ozempic is available as a prefilled disposable single-use injectable pen available in either 0.25mg and 1mg increments which is both safe and easy to administer even for those starting out.
USAGE INSTRUCTIONS & STORAGE
How to use Ozempic Injectable Pens
Before using Ozempic, make sure your doctor or pharmacist has instructed you on how to properly administer the medication.
Prior to injection, inspect the product for any discoloration or particles. Do not use it if either are present.
Clean the injection with alcohol and a swab before injection.
Rotate the site of injection to lower the risk of skin complications.
Inject the medication under the skin in the upper arm, thigh or abdomen as directed by your pharmacist, nurse or doctor.
Ozempic is injected once per week. Use a calendar or phone app to keep a consistent dosage schedule.
Your doctor may recommend starting off with a lower dose and gradually increasing over tie to reduce the chance of side effects. This medication can be used with or without meals.
Follow your doctors treatment plan which should include dietary changes and regular exercise. Inform your doctor if your condition does not get better or gets worse.
How to store Ozempic
Do not use this medication after the expiry date stated on the carton or pen label.
Keep this medication away from children or pets.
- Store in refrigerator between 2°C – 8°C
- Do not freeze
- Keep away from cooling element
- Recommended to store in butter compartment
- During use, Ozempic pen can be kept for 8 weeks in refrigerator between 2-8°C or at temperature below 30°C
- Do not freeze.
When not in use, keep the pen cap on to protect from direct light.
Do not use this medication if it appears colorless or clear.
Do not dispose of medication in trash or down wastewater. Speak to your pharmacist about how to properly dispose of medication not in use to protect the environment.
Like any medication side effects may occur while taking Ozempic. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about the possible side effects associated with Ozempic and how to minimize the risk of complications.
Very Common Side Effects (may affect more than 1 in 10 patients)
- Nausea (goes away with time)
- Diarrhea (goes away with time)
- Hypoglycemia (warning signs may come on suddenly and include symptoms such as cold sweats, hunger, nausea, headache, cool pale skin, increased heartbeat, changes in vision, anxiety, nervousness, difficulty concentrating, shaking, drowsiness or feeling weak. The hypoglycemia may be caused by sulfonylurea or insulin.
Speak to your doctor or pharmacist on what to do if you are experiencing symptoms of hypoglycemia.
Common Side Effects (may affect up to 1 in 10 patients)
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Stomach Pain
- Gall stones
- Gas (flatulence)
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Gastritis (inflamed stomach)
- Stomach bloating
- Complications with vision (ie. retinopathy)
- Increased heart rate
Uncommon Side Effects (may affect up to 1 in 100 patients):
- Injection site reactions (ie bruising, itching, rash or pain)
- Increased pulse
- Allergic reaction (ie itching, rash or hives)
Rare Side Effects (may affect up to 1 in 1,000 people):
If you experience a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis (swelling of face, throat, increased heartbeat) seek medical attention immediately.
WARNINGS & PRECAUTIONS
Do not use Ozempic if:
- if you have allergies to semaglutide or other ingredients included in this medication.
- you have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2)
- you are pregnant or breastfeeding
- you or someone in your family has had medullary thyroid cancer (MTC)
Do not share Ozempic pens with others, event if the needle has been changed as it may lead to spreading infection.
Inform your doctor if you:
- Have ever had pancreatitis
- Are pregnant or planning on pregnancy
- Breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed
- Have type 1 diabetes
- Have hepatic (liver) disease
- Have end stage renal disease
- Have a rapid heart rate
- Are experiencing gastrointestinal problems (vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration)
- Have had an allergic reaction to Ozempic or any of its ingredients
- Have diabetic retinopathy
- Have hepatic disease (liver disease)
- Have experienced ketoacidosis in the past
It is unknown whether Ozempic is safe for patients with pancreatitis or patients under the age of 18.
Ozempic is a not a substitute for insulin and should not be used by people with type 1 diabetes or patients suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis.
Ozempic is not recommended for children and adolescents under the age of 18.
Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant. It is still not known how Ozempic will affect an unborn baby. If you are planning on becoming pregnant you should stop 2 months in advance. It is also not known if Ozempic affects passes through breast milk so it is advised to not take it if you are breastfeeding.
Driving & Heavy Machinery
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a common side effect that diabetics may experience which may affect your ability to focus. For this reason it’s important to avoid heavy machinery or driving unless cleared by your doctor.
See a doctor immediately if you are experiencing on-going stomach pain which may be due to acute pancreatitis.
During treatment with Ozempic you may experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Since these symptoms may cause fluid loss it’s important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Rapid improvement in blood sugar may be a sign that symptoms are worsening. If this happens it may result in diabetic retinopathy or loss of vision. If you are experiencing any eye complications during treatment such as diabetic retinopathy you should inform your doctor immediately.
Let your doctor know if you are taking any other prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins or herbal supplements. Especially if you are taking any medications containing sulfonylurea or insulin. These medications may increase your risk of hypoglycemia.
Inform your doctor if you are taking any medications that:
- treat hypertension
- treat heart failure
- treat ADHD
- suppress appetite or cause weight loss
- treat asthma
- treat HIV infection
Frequently Asked Questions
How to take Ozempic?
Ozempic is administered with an injection pen under the skin. The best places to inject are the upper arm, thigh or abdomen. Your doctor or nurse should provide instructions on how to properly administer your Ozempic. Do not inject into a muscle or vein.
How often should I use Ozempic?
Ozempic should be injected once a week on the same day. Use a calendar or schedule your injections using your smartphone to ensure you don’t miss your dose. You can also write the date of the week of your injection on the carton to remind you when to take it. You can change the date as long as it is within 2 days of your last dose. Do not stop taking it unless you’ve consulted with your doctor first as you may experience hypoglycemia.
What happens if I overdose?
Contact to you doctor immediately if you have used more Ozempic than your prescribed dose. You may experience side effects such as nausea, diarrhea or vomiting. If you feel you have taken too much you may want to contact regional poison control or your emergency department, even if you aren’t showing any symptoms.
What happens if I miss a dose?
If you missed a dose and:
• It’s 5 days or less since your scheduled injection, use it as soon as you remember. Then inject your next dose as usual on your scheduled day.
• It is more than 5 days since you should have used OZEMPIC®, skip the missed dose. Then inject your next dose as usual on your scheduled day. Do not take an extra dose or increase the dose to make up for a missed dose.