Ozempic (semaglutide) is a prescription drug that may be prescribed off-label for weight loss. The drug isn’t approved for this use, but it may be helpful for weight loss.
Ozempic comes as a solution inside a single-use injection pen. It’s given as an injection under your skin.
The active ingredient in Ozempic is semaglutide. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.) Ozempic belongs to a group of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists.
Ozempic is only available as a brand-name drug. It doesn’t come as a generic drug.
Note: Using Ozempic for weight loss is an off-label use. With off-label use, doctors prescribe a drug for a purpose other than what it’s approved for. Ozempic is approved to treat type 2 diabetes and to lower certain heart-related risks in people with type 2 diabetes. To learn more about Ozempic and its approved uses, see this in-depth article.
Keep reading for answers to frequently asked questions about using Ozempic for weight loss.
Does Ozempic have a 6-week plan for weight loss?
Not necessarily. Ozempic’s drugmaker hasn’t provided a 6-week plan for weight loss. This is because using Ozempic for weight loss is an off-label use. (With off-label use, doctors prescribe a drug for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.)
If your doctor recommends Ozempic for weight loss, they may provide a 6-week weight loss plan for you.
To learn more about using Ozempic for weight loss, talk with your doctor.
If I don’t have diabetes, can I still use Ozempic for weight loss?
Possibly, if your doctor recommends it.
For details about this, you can see the “Who Ozempic is prescribed for?” section below.
How quickly will Ozempic work for weight loss?
It depends. Weight loss results with Ozempic can vary. You may use the drug for several weeks before noticing any weight loss.
To learn more about what to expect when using Ozempic off-label for weight loss, talk with your doctor.
Do I have to keep taking Ozempic long term even if I lose weight?
Most likely. Weight that you lost during your Ozempic treatment
To learn more about how long you may use Ozempic for weight loss, talk with your doctor.
Using Ozempic off-label for weight loss may cause side effects in some people. These side effects may range from mild or serious.
The sections below list some of the side effects reported in studies of Ozempic for its approved uses. The drug’s side effects are expected to be similar when used off-label for weight loss.
If you have questions about the drug’s possible side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also learn more from the side effect article on Ozempic or from Ozempic’s prescribing information.
Note: After the FDA approves a medication, it tracks and reviews side effects of the drug. If you develop a side effect while taking Ozempic and would like to inform the FDA, visit MedWatch.
What are Ozempic’s mild side effects?
Ozempic may cause mild side effects in some people. These include:
- fatigue (low energy)
- reactions around the injection site, such as discomfort or skin discoloration
- small increase in heart rate
- changes in how things taste, such as having a bitter, metallic, or sour taste in your mouth
- digestive problems, such as:
- flatulence (gas) or burping
- nausea and vomiting
In many cases, mild side effects from the drug can be temporary. Some side effects may be easy to manage, too. But if side effects last for a longer time, or if they bother you or become severe, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
What are Ozempic’s serious side effects?
Using Ozempic may lead to rare but serious side effects. Examples include:
- kidney problems, such as kidney failure
- low blood sugar
- pancreatitis (swelling of your pancreas)
- gallbladder disease, which may include cholecystitis (swelling of your gallbladder) or gallstones
- risk of thyroid cancer*
- allergic reaction†
Call your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects while using Ozempic. If the side effects seem life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
* Ozempic has a
† An allergic reaction is possible after using Ozempic. This side effect wasn’t reported in studies of the drug’s approved uses. But allergic reaction has been reported with Ozempic since the drug became available for use.
The price of Ozempic depends on several factors. These can include your treatment plan, your health insurance (if you have it), the pharmacy you use, and your location.
The price for Ozempic can also vary when prescribed for an off-label use compared with an approved use. For example, health insurance plans may not pay for Ozempic when the drug is used off-label.
How can I buy Ozempic?
Ozempic is only available with a doctor’s prescription. If you’d like to use Ozempic off-label for weight loss, talk with your doctor. If they determine that Ozempic is right for you, they can provide a prescription.
Another way you can purchase Ozempic is by using a reputable telehealth service, such as:
- Ro Body, which can help you with weight management or other health conditions
- Calibrate, which focuses on helping people manage their weight
A licensed healthcare professional (such as a doctor) will evaluate your health. If they determine that Ozempic may be a good choice for you, they’ll provide an electronic prescription. You can then order the medication. The services also include coaching and other support to help you manage your weight.
If you do get a prescription for Ozempic through Calibrate or Ro Body, we encourage you to tell your doctor. It’s important that they know about all medications you take.
Below are common dosages of Ozempic when used off-label* for weight loss. But be sure to follow the instructions and dosage your doctor has prescribed.
* With off-label use, doctors prescribe a drug for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.
What is the usual dosage for Ozempic?
Your doctor will typically start you on a low dosage of Ozempic. Then they may increase the dosage over time to reach an amount that’s right for you. Your exact dosage will depend on how well the drug is working to help you lose weight.
To learn more about your exact dosage of Ozempic for weight loss, talk with your doctor.
Besides its off-label use for weight loss, Ozempic is approved for certain uses. The dosage you take for weight loss may be different than the dosage for the drug’s approved uses. To learn more, talk with your doctor.
How do you use Ozempic?
Ozempic comes as a solution inside a single-use injection pen. You’ll inject the drug under the skin of your belly or thigh. Or a caregiver can inject the drug under the skin of your upper arm.
If you have questions about how to use Ozempic, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
How often should I use Ozempic?
You’ll inject Ozempic once per week, usually on the same day each week. You can inject the drug at any time of day.
Your doctor will determine whether it’s safe for you to use Ozempic off-label for weight loss.
For example, a doctor may prescribe Ozempic off-label for weight loss in adults with either:
- a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher (obesity)
- a BMI of 27 or higher (overweight) and at least one health condition related to weight, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes
This is because semaglutide (the active drug in Ozempic) was shown to help with weight loss in adults meeting either of these criteria in studies.
To find out whether Ozempic may be right for you, talk with your doctor.
Ozempic belongs to a group of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. The drug works by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone found naturally in your body.
When used to treat type 2 diabetes, Ozempic works to lower your blood sugar by:
- raising the amount of insulin your body makes after a meal
- lowering the amount of sugar released into your blood
- increasing the time it takes food to move through your stomach, which keeps your blood sugar from sharply increasing after you eat
By lowering your blood sugar in the ways described above, Ozempic also helps lower certain heart-related risks related to diabetes.
When used for weight loss, Ozempic helps reduce your appetite. Having a reduced appetite can lower the number of calories you consume. And consuming fewer calories may lead to weight loss.
Ozempic has been shown to be helpful for weight loss in certain people when used with diet and regular exercise.
In studies, many people lost weight while using Ozempic to treat type 2 diabetes or to lower certain heart-related risks. But it’s important to note these studies did not specifically look at Ozempic as a weight-loss drug.
Note: Semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, is also available as brand-name Wegovy. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.) Wegovy is approved for weight loss. To learn more, see this in-depth article.
Before using Ozempic off-label* for weight loss, there’s some important information to keep in mind. The drug may not be safe for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Some of these are mentioned below.
* With off-label use, doctors prescribe a drug for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.
Boxed warning: Risk of thyroid cancer
This drug has a
It’s important to note that animal studies don’t always predict what will happen in humans. It isn’t known for certain whether Ozempic increases the risk of thyroid cancer in humans.
Still, due to this risk, your doctor will not prescribe Ozempic if you or a family member have a kind of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). They’ll also avoid prescribing the drug if you have a genetic (inherited) condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN2). This is because MEN2 can lead to thyroid cancer.
While you’re using Ozempic, your doctor will monitor you for symptoms of thyroid cancer. And let them know if you notice any symptoms such as neck pain, a lump in your throat, or a hoarse voice. If you have these symptoms, your doctor may order tests to check for thyroid cancer.
If you have questions about this warning, talk with your doctor.
What other warnings should I know about?
In addition to the boxed warning, Ozempic has other warnings. If any of the following medical conditions or other health factors apply to you, talk with your doctor before using Ozempic.
If you have questions about using Ozempic off-label for weight loss, talk with your doctor. They can help determine if Ozempic might be a good fit for you.
Here are some examples of questions you may want to ask your doctor:
- Can I use Ozempic with other weight-loss medications?
- How does Ozempic compare with other drugs used for weight loss?
- Do I have any health conditions or factors that could make Ozempic unsafe for weight loss?
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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 another 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.