If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor may prescribe Ozempic for you.

Ozempic is a prescription drug that’s used to:

  • Manage blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes, along with lifestyle improvements in diet and exercise.
  • Lower certain risks in adults who have both heart disease and diabetes. These risks include heart attack or stroke that doesn’t lead to death.

For more information on how Ozempic is used, see the “What is Ozempic used for?” section below.

Ozempic comes as a solution inside prefilled, disposable pens. You’ll inject the drug under your skin.

Ozempic’s active ingredient is semaglutide. It belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs). Semaglutide comes only as the brand-name drug Ozempic. There isn’t a generic form of it available.

Read on for more information about Ozempic, including its cost, how to take it, and more.

Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use. To find current prices for Ozempic in your area, visit GoodRx.com.

If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the Ozempic manufacturer’s website to see if it offers any support options.

Your doctor will explain how to take Ozempic. They’ll also explain how much to take and how often to take it. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.

Taking Ozempic

Ozempic comes as a solution inside prefilled, disposable pens.

You’ll be able to inject doses of Ozempic yourself. Giving yourself injections of a medication may be new to you. But your doctor can show you how to do this when you first start treatment.

Ozempic injections are given under your skin in your thigh, abdomen, or upper arm. Be sure to rotate the injection site each time you take the medication. You should also use a new needle for each injection. This will help you avoid getting infections from using needles that aren’t clean.

Ask your doctor for suggestions to help you feel comfortable and confident managing your injections. Be sure to follow the instructions they give you.

The list below contains a few tips you should follow:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before starting.
  • Have all your supplies, including your Ozempic dose, readily available.
  • Change the needle every time you use the Ozempic pen.
  • Check the pen to make sure that the medication inside is clear and colorless.
  • Double-check that the dose is correct on your pen before giving your injection.
  • Keep track of your doses and make sure you have a full dose left in your pen after each injection.
  • Don’t share your pen with anyone else.
  • Record the date that your Ozempic prefilled pens should be discarded. (They expire 56 days after opening.)

For instructions on how to use Ozempic, see the manufacturer’s site. Or, ask your doctor or pharmacist to show you how to use Ozempic pens.

Dosage

You’ll inject Ozempic once each week. You should use the medication on the same day each week. And try to take it at about the same time on each of those days.

Your doctor may start you on a low dose of Ozempic for the first 4 weeks of treatment. This way, they can see how well Ozempic is working for you. After this, your doctor will likely adjust your dose. Your new dose will depend on your blood sugar levels and how you’re doing overall with Ozempic treatment.

Each Ozempic pen holds several doses of the drug. Your doctor or pharmacist will explain when you need to throw away each pen and start using a new one.

Taking Ozempic with other drugs

Your doctor may prescribe Ozempic with other medications to help manage your blood sugar levels.

Some examples of other diabetes medications that may be prescribed with Ozempic include:

If you’d like to know more about taking other drugs with Ozempic, talk with your doctor.

Questions about taking Ozempic

Below are answers to some common questions about taking Ozempic.

  • What if I miss a dose of Ozempic? If you miss a dose of Ozempic, take the drug as soon as you remember. But only do this if it’s within 5 days of your last dose. If it’s been more than 5 days, skip the missed dose and wait until it’s time for your next scheduled dose. Taking two doses too close together could lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels. If you miss a dose, check your blood sugar levels regularly to make sure they’re within the normal range. You might find a reminder app like Medisafe useful for staying on track with your weekly injections.
  • Will I need to use Ozempic long term? If Ozempic works well for your condition, your doctor may have you take the medication long term. Ask your doctor about the benefits and risks of using Ozempic long term, including its side effects.
  • Should I take Ozempic with food? Ozempic can be taken with or without food. Food doesn’t interfere with how Ozempic works.
  • How long does Ozempic take to work? Ozempic starts to work shortly after it’s been injected. After you start using Ozempic, your body may take several weeks to get used to it and to get the full benefit. Depending on how you’re doing with Ozempic, your doctor may then adjust your dose. Follow your doctor’s advice on the dose of Ozempic you should take, and take it exactly as directed.
Questions for your doctor

You may have questions about Ozempic and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.

Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:

  • Before your appointment, write down questions like:
    • How will Ozempic affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
  • Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
  • If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.
  • If you’re new to self-injections, ask your doctor to explain the process to you slowly so that you can follow the steps. Until you get the hang of it, don’t be shy about asking your doctor to show you the process again.

Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.

Like most drugs, Ozempic may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that have been reported with Ozempic. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.

Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Ozempic. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.

Mild side effects

Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that have been reported with Ozempic. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist or read Ozempic’s medication guide.

Mild side effects of Ozempic can include:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • vomiting

Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Ozempic can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Ozempic, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects can include:

* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.

Side effect focus

Learn more about some of the side effects Ozempic may cause.

Boxed warning

Ozempic has a boxed warning. A boxed warning is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Ozempic has been shown to cause thyroid tumors and thyroid cancer in animals. It isn’t known if Ozempic can cause thyroid tumors or medullary thyroid cancer in humans.

If you have a family or personal history of medullary thyroid cancer or a rare endocrine condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, you shouldn’t take Ozempic.

Talk with your doctor if you have either of these conditions or a family history of them.

What might help

Be sure to call your doctor immediately if you have any signs or symptoms of a thyroid tumor while taking Ozempic. These include:

  • a lump on your neck
  • long-lasting hoarseness in your voice
  • shortness of breath
  • trouble swallowing

Nausea

Ozempic can cause nausea, especially when you first start taking the medication or when your dose changes. Usually, nausea should go away after a few days.

But keep in mind that nausea is also a symptom of pancreatitis (inflammation in your pancreas). And pancreatitis is a serious side effect of Ozempic.

If you have nausea that doesn’t go away after a few days, worsens, or becomes severe, call your doctor right away.

What might help

If you have nausea while taking Ozempic, your doctor may suggest ways to help control your symptoms. These may include taking over-the-counter or prescription medications until your nausea gets better. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any medications for nausea with Ozempic.

Pancreatitis

Ozempic may cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). This is a serious condition.

Call your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of pancreatitis. These may include:

  • pain, tenderness, or swelling in your upper belly
  • nausea
  • vomiting

What might help

If needed, your doctor can order tests to check if you have pancreatitis. They’ll stop your Ozempic treatment if necessary and discuss changes to your treatment plan.

Allergic reaction

Some people may have an allergic reaction to Ozempic. Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (warmth, swelling, redness, or discoloration in your skin)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Ozempic. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.

Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Ozempic.

Is Ozempic used for weight loss?

No, Ozempic isn’t approved for use as a weight loss medication. But you might lose weight while you’re taking Ozempic. That’s because the medication decreases your appetite.

In some cases, Ozempic is prescribed off-label for weight loss. With off-label use, a drug that’s approved for certain conditions is used for another purpose.

If you’re interested in using Ozempic for weight loss, talk with your doctor. They can discuss the risks and benefits of taking Ozempic to lose weight.

Remember that insurance may not cover off-label uses of Ozempic. Ask your doctor for more information.

What’s the difference between Ozempic and Trulicity?

Ozempic and Trulicity are both used to treat type 2 diabetes. Both drugs also have protective effects on the heart and kidneys. They are recommended by the American Diabetes Association guidelines for use in people with type 2 diabetes who also have heart disease, heart failure, or kidney disease.

They both belong to a group of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists (GLP-1 RAs). So, they have similar uses, effectiveness, and side effects. But they also have a few differences.

Studies have directly compared semaglutide (the active drug in Ozempic) with dulaglutide (the active drug in Trulicity). Semaglutide was found to be more effective at lowering hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels and body weight. HbA1c is an average of your blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. Your doctor can provide more information about these medications and determine which one may be most suitable for you.

Both Ozempic and Trulicity come in self-injection pens that you’ll use once weekly.

These drugs share some common side effects, such as diarrhea, nausea, kidney damage, fatigue, pancreatitis, and diabetes-related eye problems (diabetic retinopathy). But they also have some unique side effects, such as headache with Ozempic and loss of appetite with Trulicity.

Ozempic and Trulicity also have serious side effects, and they both have a boxed warning for thyroid cancer. (A boxed warning is the most serious warning for a drug.)

To learn more about Ozempic and Trulicity, see their prescribing information.

Talk with your doctor if you have more questions about Ozempic and Trulicity. They can determine which one may suit you best.

How does Ozempic work?

Ozempic works in several ways to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The drug also lowers heart-related risks in people with both diabetes and heart disease.

The drug does this by:

  • Increasing the amount of insulin your body makes after a meal so that your blood sugar levels won’t get too high. Insulin is a hormone that lowers your blood sugar levels.
  • Slowing the movement of food through your stomach to prevent a big jump in your blood sugar levels.
  • Lowering the amount of sugar released into your bloodstream.

A doctor may prescribe Ozempic to:

  • Manage blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes, along with lifestyle improvements in diet and exercise.
  • Lower the risk of certain heart or blood vessel problems in adults who have both heart disease and diabetes. These problems can include heart attack or stroke that doesn’t lead to death.

With diabetes, you have elevated blood sugar levels. And over time, this can damage blood vessels in your body.

Ozempic helps lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of certain heart and blood vessel problems. To learn about how Ozempic works, see the “What are some frequently asked questions about Ozempic?” section just above.

Note: There are some limitations to how Ozempic can be used. These are as follows:

  • This drug hasn’t been studied in people who’ve had pancreatitis in the past. (With pancreatitis, you have inflammation in your pancreas.) So, other treatments should be considered if you’ve had this condition.
  • Ozempic isn’t meant to treat type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). (With DKA, which is a dangerous condition, you have a high level of acidic substances called ketones in your body.)

Before starting Ozempic, talk with your doctor about all the benefits and risks of using it. You should also discuss your overall health and any health conditions you may have.

Ask your doctor if Ozempic is safe for you to take if you:

  • have a family history of thyroid cancer
  • have problems with your kidneys
  • have diabetic retinopathy (damage to your eyes that’s caused by diabetes)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • are breastfeeding

Interactions

Using medications, vaccines, foods, and other things with a certain drug can affect how the drug works. These effects are called interactions.

Interactions can raise or lower the effect of medications taken together.

Before taking Ozempic, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take (including prescription and over-the-counter types). Also, describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Ozempic.

Interactions with drugs or supplements

Ozempic can interact with several types of drugs. This list does not contain all types of drugs that may interact with Ozempic. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about these interactions and any others that may occur while using Ozempic.

If you take Ozempic with other diabetes medications that also lower blood sugar levels, your blood sugar levels might drop too low. This can be dangerous.

Some diabetes medications can increase your insulin levels if taken with Ozempic. And this can lead to low blood sugar. These medications include:

Note: It’s important to regularly monitor your sugar levels according to your doctor’s advice. Doing so will help you recognize when your blood sugar levels are high (hyperglycemia) or low (hypoglycemia). Talk with your doctor about what to do if your blood sugar levels are either too high or too low.

Other interactions

Certain herbs and other natural supplements can interact with Ozempic and cause your blood sugar levels to drop. Some examples include:

If you’re taking any herbs or supplements, talk with your doctor about whether they’re safe to take with Ozempic.

Boxed warnings

Ozempic has a boxed warning. A boxed warning is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Ozempic has been shown to cause thyroid tumors and thyroid cancer in animals. It isn’t known if Ozempic can cause thyroid tumors or medullary thyroid cancer in humans.

If you have a family or personal history of medullary thyroid cancer or a rare endocrine condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, you shouldn’t take Ozempic.

Talk with your doctor if you have either of these conditions or a family history of them.

For more information, see the “What are Ozempic’s side effects?” section above.

Other warnings

Ozempic may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Ozempic. Factors to consider include:

  • Kidney disease. If you have severe kidney disease, you may not be able to take Ozempic. And if you have problems with your kidneys, your dose of Ozempic may need to be adjusted. Be sure to let your doctor know about any kidney problems you have before you start taking Ozempic. Also, keep in mind that certain side effects from Ozempic can worsen kidney problems. These side effects include:
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
  • Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Ozempic or any of its ingredients, you shouldn’t take this drug. Ask your doctor about which other medications are better options for you.

Use with alcohol

Drinking large amounts of alcohol with Ozempic can affect your blood sugar levels. This can also:

Ask your doctor for more information about the risks of drinking alcohol while you’re taking Ozempic.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

It’s not known if Ozempic is safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of Ozempic if you’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

Don’t take more Ozempic than your doctor prescribes. Doing so can lead to serious side effects.

Because Ozempic is injected once weekly, the effects of an overdose may last for a while. If you take too much Ozempic, your doctor will need to monitor you closely and treat your symptoms until they’ve resolved.

Symptoms of overdose

Ozempic overdose can cause:

  • Severe low blood sugar levels. Symptoms include:
    • dizziness
    • jitteriness
    • mood changes
    • weakness
    • headache
    • shakiness
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.

What to do in case you take too much Ozempic

Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much Ozempic. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers, or you can use their online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.

There are many treatment options for managing type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can discuss medications available, including Ozempic. And there are several options available for people with heart disease.

You may have questions before taking Ozempic. Be sure to ask your doctor what to expect with treatment. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Is Ozempic available as a pill?
  • What lifestyle changes will help my condition?
  • How long will Ozempic take to manage my blood sugar levels?

For more information on the latest treatment options for type 2 diabetes, sign up for Healthline’s diabetes newsletter.

Q:

What should I do if I remove my Ozempic pen from my skin before the full dose is given?

Anonymous patient

A:

A: If you remove the Ozempic pen from your skin too soon, you may see a stream of Ozempic coming from the needle tip.

If this happens, you won’t receive the full dose, and you won’t know for sure how much of the drug was injected.

To prevent overdose, don’t inject any additional Ozempic. Instead, call your doctor right away. They’ll recommend that you closely monitor your blood sugar levels. And be sure to ask your doctor for guidance about when to give your next injection. They can also let you know how much Ozempic to take at that time.

Neal Patel, PharmDAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Healthline

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.