Explore how Ozempic works, the dosage regime and side effects profile. Understand its position as a weight loss medication and the available alternatives.

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic contains the active ingredient semaglutide which belongs to the class of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP1) receptor agonists. It is a weekly injection which is used in adults with type 2 diabetes. It is prescribed alongside diet and exercise to improve blood sugar. Ozempic helps to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, stroke and other heart disease. 

Ozempic works by promoting the release of insulin and inhibits glucagon secretion. Insulin is a hormone which lowers blood sugar levels, Ozempic helps the body increase the insulin post meal. It slows down stomach emptying and the slow movement of food prevent the big increase in blood sugar.

All these combined together lead to better sugar control and reduced feelings of hunger. Even though it is not a weight loss drug, its mechanism of action may help individuals to lose weight. 

It is administered once a week through a subcutaneous injection. The injections are given under the skin to thigh, abdomen or upper arm. The site should be rotated each time and a new needle should be used each time the medication is taken.

The initial dose is low to minimise the potential side effects and allow the body to gradually adjust to the medication. The doctor may start you on a low dose of Ozempic for the first 4 weeks of treatment. The dose is increased over several weeks before reaching maintenance dose. The dose ranges from 0.25mg weekly to 2mg weekly as its maximum dose. 

Ozempic will begin working soon after its injected however the body may take several weeks to get used to. If a dose is missed, its important to take the drug as soon as possible. If it has been more than 5 days since the last dose, skip the missed dose and take the next scheduled dose. Taking two doses close together could lead to extremely low blood sugar.

Ozempic (semaglutide) has potential mild side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain or constipation. The symptoms do decrease with time as the body adjusts to the medication.

There are some serious side effects including inflammation of the pancreas, low blood sugar, and changes in vision which can worsen for people with diabetic retinopathy. Individuals with gallbladder problems or kidney problems should avoid medications like ozempic. It is best advised for individuals with family history of cancer of the thyroid to not use this medication.

Ozempic for weight loss

Since Novo Nordisk released it in 2020 Ozempic has shown effectiveness in weight management, particularly with obesity or people with type 2 diabetes. It has been used off label and shown to be efficient in weight loss. In studies conducted over 56 weeks, adults who weighed on average 90kg lost 4-5.5kg during their course of taking the medication. Individuals using it alongside lifestyle modifications experience significant weight loss compared to those on placebo. 

It is important to consult with health care professionals to determine the suitability of Ozempic based on the individual health conditions. 

The unexpected demand for the weight loss component of the drug produced a worldwide shortage leading to potential issues for those individuals using it to manage their diabetes. Ozempic is manufactured in a way to control blood sugar much more effectively than other medications. 

Due to the shortage, Wegovy has been approved by the Australian regulatory authority to be prescribed for weight loss. Both Ozempic and Wegovy’s active ingredient is semaglutide, however for Wegovy the dose is much higher. Although it’s still awaiting its release in the Australian market, It has shown very promising results in clinical trials and may allow for ozempic to be purely used for type 2 diabetes. 

Sign up for notifications regarding Wegovy

Consult the doctor

There are many type 2 diabetes management options and having a thorough consult with a doctor can present the right option for you.

Consult a doctor