What is the Ozempic Pen Injector?
Ozempic (Semaglutide) is an injectable, non-insulin prescription medication used to help adults with type 2 diabetes control high blood sugar, avoid cardiovascular risks such as heart attack and stroke, and lose weight.
Ozempic is a Glucagon-like Petide-1 Agonist that belongs to a class of drugs called Antidiabetics.
Managing glycemic control can prevent several complications including nerve problems, kidney damage, blindness, sexual function and loss of limbs.
Semaglutide is similar to a a naturally produced hormone in our body called incretin. It causes a release of insulin in response to high glucose levels and decreases the amount of sugar the liver produces.
Semaglutide is not an insulin and should not be used for insulin treatment, people with type 1 diabetes or people with ketoacidosis.
Currently it is unknown if it can be used to treat people with pancreatitis or safe for people under the age of 18.
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 gastric emptying, this may cause a potential impact in the absorption of other oral drugs.
Inform your doctor of all possible prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbal supplements.
Check your blood sugar regularly and share the results with your doctor. Let your doctor know if you are experiencing high or low blood sugar levels.
Do not modify your dosage without the approval of your doctor.
WARNINGS & PRECAUTIONS
Ozempic is not meant to be used by patients with type 1 diabetes.
Before taking Ozempic, inform your doctor about your complete health history. Ozempic may not be prescribed if you have pre-existing issues such as an allergy to GLP-1 agonists, if you’ve had diabetic retinopathy in the past or have kidney disease. If you have severe kidney issues your doctor may not prescribe Ozempic.
Do not share Ozempic pens with others, even if the needle has been changed. This can lead to spreading serious infections.
Due to the FDA warning about the potential risk of thyroid cancer, Ozempic has a boxed warning which alerts patients and doctors about the serious side effects from a medication. Speak to your doctor about the possible side effects.
Carry identification such as an ID card, bracelet or necklace that lets others know you have diabetes and are taking medication to manage your blood glucose levels.
Taking Ozempic can potentially worse your existing conditions.
Ozempic (Semaglutide) may cause decreased kidney function or failure. If you have kidney disease or reduced kidney funciton, speak to you doctor how this may affect your existing condition and if special monitoring is required.
Ozempic may increase your heart rate and function. If you have an abnormal heart condition (ie heartblock, arrythmia) or heart disease, speak to your doctor. The may choose to adjust the dosage of medications and require close monitoring.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Patients currently taking a sulfonylurea (ie gliclazide, glyburide) or insulin along with Ozempic may be at risk of hypoglycemia. If you are experiencing symptoms of hypoglycemia such as increased heart rate, headache, cold sweat, nervousness, numbness or tingling of tongue/lips, lightheadedness, confusion, hunger or weakness, consult your doctor. Your doctor may choose to adjust the dosage of medications you are taking.
Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
Ozempic may cause pancreatitis. If you experience severe abdominal pain, this may be a symptoms of pancreatitis. Inform you doctor immediately if you have had pancreatitis in the past as Ozempic may affect your medical condition.
People with a personal family history of thyroid cancer or people who have had multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 may be at risk and should not use this medication. Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you have difficulty breathing, hoarseness or develop a mass on your neck. It is not known semaglutide will cause thyroid tumors such as medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) in patients.
You should not use Ozempic if you are pregnant. Contact your doctor if you become pregnant while taking this medication.
Ozempic® will harm your unborn baby or passes into your breast milk. Stop using Ozempic® two months before you plan on becoming pregnant.
The effectiveness and safety of Ozempic has not been established for children.