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? (2-8?). After the pen has been used it can be kept within room temperature 59-86? (5-30?).
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.
Despite Ozempic being an effective medication for patients with type 2 diabetes, it does have a number of side effects. The list below covers both common and serious side effects for Ozempic (Semaglutide):
Common side effects:
- abdominal pain
- decreased appetite
Let your doctor know if you experience any of these side effects.
10% of patients using the Ozempic injection pen have experienced gastrointestinal side effects however Semaglutide it tolerated in the long term. Patients have reported the feeling being similar to when they’ve over eaten. Typically these side effects subside with 8 to 12 weeks.
Serious side effects:
Ozempic may cause more serious side effects including
- inflammation of the pancreas
- allergic reactions
- difficulty swallowing
- difficulty breathing
- upper abdominal pain
- a lump in the neck
- difficulty swallowing
- shortness of breath
- blurred vision
- spots or dark strings floating in your vision
- impaired vision
- fast heart rate
- decreased urination
- swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the side effects listed above.
These are not all the possible side effects for this medication. You should discuss all risks and side effects with your doctor and pharmacist.
WARNINGS & PRECAUTIONS
When administering Ozempic, the following points should be considered:
- Do not inject into the same location each time. Rotate injection sites.
- Do not inject where the skin is thickened, has pits or lumps as this can affect the effectiveness of the medication.
- Do not inject where the skin is bruised, scaly, hard, tender or damaged.
Risk of Thyroid C-Cell Tumors
If serum cacitonin is measured and found to be showing elevated or thyroid nodules from a physical examination or neck imaging, patients should be referred to an endocrinologist. Patients should be informed that Semaglutide causes thyroid C-cell tumors in rodents and that this has not been conclusive in humans. Patients must report any symptoms of hoarseness, dysphagia, dyspnea or a lump in the neck to their physician.
Patients should be informed of the risks of pancreatitis. In glycemic control trials, acute and chronic pancreatitis has been reported. Patients need to be aware of signs and symptoms of pancreatitis which can include ongoing severe abdominal pain and vomiting. If signs of pancreatitis are confirmed, Ozempic treatment should be discontinued and your doctor should be consulted.
In a 2-year trial, more complications of diabetic retinopathy occurred in patients taking Ozempic (3.0%) vs those taking the placebo (1.8%). Patients in the trial had type 2 diabetes and high cardiovascular risk. It was found that the patients who had a high risk of diabetic retinopathy were predisposed based on their family history compared to those without. This is why patients with a history of diabetic retinopathy should be monitored closely.
If patients experience a rapid improvement in glucose control, this may indicate a worsening of diabetic retinopathy.
When Ozempic is used in combination with insulin or insulin secretagogues (ie sulfonylureas), patients were at higher risk of hypoglycemia (high blood sugar levels).
Do not share Ozempic pens
Ozempic pens should no be shared among patients even if they show similar symptoms and the needle has been changed. Sharing pens can lead to spreading infection and transmission of blood-borne pathogens.
Acute Kidney Injury
Reports have shown that patients treted with GLP-1 receptor agonists experienced acute kidney injury and worsening of chronic renal failure. As a result patients would require hemodialysis. Most of the reported events happened with patients have shown symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and dehydration have occurred. Renal function should be monitored closely in patients for severe adverse gastrointestinal reactions in patients taking escalated doses.
If hypersensitivity occurs, patients should discontinue use and monitor until symptoms ar resolved. Serious symptoms of hypersensitivity include angioedema and anaphylaxis. Patients with a history of these two reactions should be treated with caution and treated with another GLP-1 receptor agonist. Patients who have a history of angioedema or anaphylaxis with other GLP-1 receptors should be treated with caution.
Pregnant women or those planning pregnancy should be advised of the potential risks to a fetus. Consult your doctor if you are pregnant or planning pregnancy. If diabetes is poorly managed during pregnancy, this can increase the risk of complications such as ketoacidosis, preeclampsis, birth defects, macrosomnia, preterm delivery, spontaneous abortions, delivery complications and stillbirth.
Renal Failure and Dehydration
Patients should be advised by their physicians about the possible risk of dehydration do to gastrointestinal adverse reactions if they are using Ozempic. Patients should avoid fluid depletion. Doctors should explain the possible symptoms of renal impairment and the possible requirement of dialysis if renal failure occurs.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS