ozempic injection

Understanding Ozempic: Uses, Side Effects, And Cost

Ozempic (semaglutide) is a once-weekly prescription injectable medication that is used along with diet and exercise to lower high blood sugar levels in adults who have type 2 diabetes and help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death.

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Understanding Ozempic’s Uses

Ozempic works by boosting insulin production in the body. Ozempic acts as a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that binds to and activates the GLP-1 receptor, which is the target for native GLP-1. GLP-1 is a physiological hormone that has multiple actions on glucose, mediated by the GLP-1 receptors.

Ozempic has a number of potential uses. It is FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of heart attack and other major cardiovascular events. Off-label, it can be used to aid weight loss and weight management.

Semaglutide, the primary ingredient in Ozempic, is a medication that is FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes. It is a once-a-week prescription injectable that works in tandem with diet and exercise to lower high blood sugar levels in adults.

Aside from its intended purpose, Ozempic lowers the risk of serious cardiovascular events, such as strokes and heart attacks. The medication operates by imitating the effects of GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1), a natural hormone, which increases insulin production and decreases the liver’s output of glucagon.1

Administering Ozempic

This medication comes in the form of a pen you can inject yourself with. Follow these steps to give yourself an Ozempic injection safely:

  • Prepare the pen:
  • Wash your hands before handling an Ozempic pen.
  • Take the cap off the pen and set it aside.
  • Check the pen window to see if the solution is clear and colorless. If it isn’t, don’t use that pen.
  • Put a new needle in the pen. Do not reuse needles you or someone else has used before.
  • Pull off both the outer and inner needle caps and throw them in the trash.
person washing hands
  • Check the medication flow (you only need to do this the first time you use a new Ozempic pen):
    • Hold the pen needle-side up.
    • Turn the dose counter until it shows the flow check symbol (two dots and a line)
    • Hold down the dose button until the dose counter shows 0. You should see a drop of medication appear at the tip of the needle.
    • Repeat the process up to six times if you don’t see a drop of medication. If you still don’t see a drop after six attempts, replace the needle and try again.
    • If no drop ever appears, throw the pen in your sharps container without using it.
  • Select your dose:
    • Turn the dose selector until it gets to the correct dose for you (0.25, 0.5, 1, or 2).
  • Inject the dose:
    • Use an alcohol swab to clean the skin where you are going to inject the medication. You should inject Ozempic into your abdomen, thigh, or upper arm.
    • Insert the needle into your skin and hold it in place.
    • Press and hold the dose button until the dose counter shows 0.
    • Count slowly to 6 before you remove the needle. This will ensure you get the full dose.
  • Discard the needle:
    • Remove the needle from the pen.
    • Put the used needle in a sharps container.
    • Put the cap back on the pen.

It is important to note that the medication in an Ozempic pen expires after 56 days.

There are a number of precautions related to taking this medication. Ozempic can increase your risk of developing thyroid cancer. It may not be right for you if you are allergic to Ozempic, you have a diabetes-related eye disease, pancreas disease, or kidney disease, or if you use insulin or insulin-increasing drugs.

It is imperative that you take Ozempic only as your doctor has prescribed it for you. The dose of each Ozempic injection ranges from 0.25 milligrams (mg) to 2 milligrams. Your doctor will most likely start you at 0.25 mg once a week for the first four weeks, then 0.5 mg once a week for the next four weeks.

Possible Side Effects of Ozempic

Although this medication is generally considered safe, there are a number of potential side effects associated with Ozempic.

Common side effects include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence (passing gas)
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
woman having a headache

Seek immediate medical care if you experience any serious side effects from Ozempic. Serious side effects are rare but can include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Diabetic retinopathy (diabetes-related eye problems). Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy can include:
    • Blurred vision
    • Poor night vision
    • Seeing dark spots
    • Vision loss
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Symptoms of hypoglycemia can include:
    • Confusion
    • Drowsiness
    • Fast heartbeat
    • Feeling jittery
    • Headache
    • Hunger
    • Irritability
    • Sweating
    • Weakness
  • Kidney damage. Symptoms of kidney damage can include:
    • Confusion
    • Fatigue
    • Nausea
    • Reduced urination
    • Swelling in your ankles or legs
  • Gallbladder disease. Symptoms of gallbladder disease can include:
    • Cholecystitis (inflammation in your gallbladder)
    • Gallstones, which can cause fever, nausea, pain in your belly, and vomiting
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Symptoms of pancreatitis can include:
    • Back pain
    • Belly pain
    • Fever
    • Nausea
    • Swollen belly
    • Unintended weight loss
    • Vomiting
  • Thyroid cancer

The Cost of Ozempic

The cost of Ozempic varies by country and (in the United States) your insurance coverage. In the United States, the cost of Ozempic ranges from $25 per month with insurance to $892 per month without insurance. This medication costs about $300 for a 30-day supply in Canada.

There are a number of factors that affect the price of Ozempic, including:

  • The pharmacy you use
  • Whether you qualify for Ozempic’s savings card or other financial assistance
  • Your insurance coverage
  • Your treatment plan
a bunch of dollar bills

Ozempic vs. Other Similar Medications

Ozempic can be compared to other GLP-1 receptor agonists, like Trulicity (dulaglutide), Victoza (liraglutide), and Wegovy (another form of semaglutide). Ozempic, Trulicity, and Wegovy are injected weekly, but Victoza is a daily injection.

There are a number of reasons why a healthcare provider might recommend Ozempic over other options. For example, Ozempic is more effective at lowering A1C levels than Trulicity, Bydureon, Januvia, and Lantus.

There are a variety of weight loss medications currently on the market. In order to make the best choice for you, let’s take a look at some of them and how they compare and contrast to Ozempic.


Wegovy also contains semaglutide, like Ozempic. However, this medication is FDA-approved for weight loss and maintenance. This medicine also differs from Ozempic in terms of strength and dosage. The greater range of dosages is essential to its effectiveness in long-term weight control.

Wegovy is frequently self-administered at home alongside a comprehensive weight-management plan that includes increased physical activity and calorie restriction. This multifaceted approach is essential for achieving sustainable results in chronic weight management, especially in adults dealing with obesity or overweight conditions.

In contrast, Ozempic is primarily focused on the treatment of type 2 diabetes – aiding in improving glycemic control, which is vital for patients managing their blood sugar levels. Ozempic is a beneficial option for people with existing cardiovascular disease since it also lowers the risk of significant adverse cardiovascular events in diabetic individuals, which adds another layer of therapeutic value.


Tirzepatide can be used to treat both type 2 diabetes and weight loss. It decreases blood sugar by increasing insulin secretion and decreasing glucagon secretion from the liver, similar to Ozempic.

Many patients using Tirzepatide have expressed satisfactory results.2 This encouraging response is important, especially in light of the patient-centered approach in modern healthcare, where user experience and satisfaction are major factors in evaluating how successful a medication is.

Tirzepatide does not offer a less expensive generic substitute. This is a key factor for patients considering long-term medication plans, as the cost can significantly impact treatment accessibility and adherence.

Although Ozempic also lacks a lower-cost generic version, the difference in the cost structures between these two drugs could be a decisive factor for patients and healthcare providers when considering the most suitable treatment option. This cost consideration is particularly relevant in healthcare systems where medication costs are a major concern for patients.

Necessary Precautions and Interactions with Ozempic

Do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol while taking Ozempic. Alcohol consumption can increase your risk for hypoglycemia.

Talk to your doctor to make sure the benefits of taking Ozempic outweigh the risks if you are pregnant or may become pregnant. It is not well understood how this medication affects human pregnancies, but animal studies show that it could potentially harm a fetus.

Experts are not sure if it is safe to take Ozempic while breastfeeding, as it is not known if this medication passes into breast milk.

patient consulting with a doctor

Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking Ozempic while breastfeeding to determine if the potential benefits are greater than the potential risks.

There are a number of drugs and supplements that can interact with Ozempic by interfering with effectiveness or increasing side effects, including:

  • Certain drugs taken by mouth: These can be more difficult to absorb when you are taking Ozempic and should be taken at least one hour before you inject your weekly dose.
  • Drugs that increase insulin: These can increase your risk of low blood sugar when taken with Ozempic, so your doctor may lower the dose of your insulin-increasing medication.
  • Some herbs and supplements: The following herbs and supplements may increase your risk of hypoglycemia if you take them with Ozempic:
    • White mulberry
    • Prickly pear cactus
    • Gymnema
    • Chromium
    • Bitter melon
    • Banaba
    • Alpha-lipoic acid

You should not take this medication if you have certain medical conditions. Ozempic disease interactions include:

  • GI adverse events
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Pancreatitis
  • Retinopathy
  • Suicidal behavior and ideation
  • Thyroid cancer

You must take Ozempic only in the dose and frequency your doctor prescribes for you. Taking too much of this medication will increase your risk of developing severe side effects.

Symptoms of an overdose can include:

  • Severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe vomiting

If you suspect an overdose, call 911, your doctor, America’s Poison Centers (800-222-1222), or go to the emergency room.

Final Thoughts

While Ozempic, Wegovy, and Tirzepatide share similarities in their mechanisms of action, primarily centered around their effects on blood sugar and weight management, they are distinctly characterized by their various indications, strengths, and dosages.

The choice among each of these medications is not simply a matter of preference. Instead, it is based on each patient’s unique health profile. This covers their particular medical condition, symptoms’ intensity, coexisting conditions, and general health objectives.

The absence of lower-cost generic versions for these medications also means that affordability can significantly influence treatment accessibility and adherence. While varying among individuals, side effects also necessitate careful consideration, as they can impact the patient’s quality of life and willingness to continue the treatment.

Choosing between Ozempic, Wegovy, and Tirzepatide should be a well-thought-out choice made in consultation with medical experts. In order to guarantee that the drug selected closely corresponds with the patient’s health demands and lifestyle, this selection must take into account the complex balance between medical efficacy, patient-specific characteristics, and practical considerations.

Reach Your Weight Loss Goals With Semaglutide

Semaglutide (the same ingredient in Wegovy and Ozempic) is the only proven FDA-approved medication for long-term weight loss and management. Medical weight loss medications can help you on your journey toward your ideal weight.

Book a convenient online consultation and health check followed by a lab test. Eligible individuals will receive a medical weight loss prescription with medications delivered directly to your home.

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[1] Scheen AJ. - Semaglutide, once weekly GLP-1 receptor agonist (Ozempic®).;

[2] Ishii H. - Treatment Satisfaction and Quality of Life with Tirzepatide Versus Dulaglutide Among Japanese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: Exploratory Evaluation of the SURPASS J-mono Trial.;