What is Ozempic (Semaglutide)?
Ozempic is a treatment that can be used for weight loss and works by reducing your appetite. It comes as pre-filled injection pens that you administer yourself just once a week. It is available for those with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and over and must be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise regime.
Ozempic is additionally used to treat type 2 diabetes, as it helps control blood sugar levels.
Please note: Semaglutide for weight loss is currently prescribed off-label.
What is the difference between tablets and injections?
Semaglutide is also available as a tablet under the brand name Rybelsus. The advantages of taking Semaglutide tablets are:
- you take just 1 tablet once per day
- no injection required - it’s a great alternative for those who don’t want to inject themselves
- easy to store - tablets do not need to be kept in cool conditions like the injections do
- the availability of tablets is better - your treatment plan won’t be disrupted due to lack of stock availability
- works in exactly the same way as the injection pens.
Select ‘tablets’ in the drop-down menu above or head to our Rybelsus page for more information.
How does Ozempic (Semaglutide) work?
Ozempic works to reduce your appetite by slowing down digestion, making you feel fuller for longer. In the long term, this helps to reduce body weight and fatty food cravings when used with a healthy diet and exercise regime.
Ozempic does so by targeting a specific hormone called GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1). GLP-1 is a natural hormone that exists in the body and manages blood glucose and therefore your appetite.
Semaglutide is a GLP-1 analogue (alongside Saxenda) which means it increases GLP-1 levels. By increasing the levels of GLP-1, it helps with blood sugar management in two key ways:
- promotes insulin production from the pancreas when your blood sugar levels are too high
- reduces excess sugar (glucose) from the liver when it is not needed
This is why it is primarily used for type 2 diabetes management. However, this mechanism also causes your stomach to empty and digest food more slowly after eating, which makes you feel fuller for longer.
What are the benefits of taking it?
The main benefit of Semaglutide is that its effects have been clinically proven. A 2021 clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine which investigated the effectiveness of Semaglutide in treating obesity.
They monitored the progress of 1961 adults with a BMI of over 30 (or over 27 with the weight-related condition) for 68 weeks. Half took a placebo, an inactive drug that is believed to be the weight-loss drug, and the other half took Semaglutide.
They found that those who took the Semaglutide had a 14.9% loss in body weight when combined with a healthy diet and exercise, compared to those who took the placebo and lost 2.4% of their body weight. This is a significant difference and success.
Whilst currently an off-label treatment, in February 2022 NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) in the UK recommended it for obesity treatment. This means Semaglutide (under the brand name Wegovy) will soon be licensed and won’t need to be prescribed off-label.
What dosage should I take?
Semaglutide (Ozempic) is available in 3 different dosages: 0.25, 0.5 and 1mg. The doses can be differentiated based on the colour label of the pen.
- 0.25mg - grey-label pen
- 0.5mg - red-label pen
- 1mg - blue-label pen
For weight loss, you will be initially prescribed the 0.25mg dose. Once you are stable on that dose for 4 weeks, it can then be increased to the 0.5mg dose. You can then be prescribed the 1mg dose after 4 weeks of being stable on the 0.5mg dose. Not everyone needs the 1mg dose, some may only require a 0.5mg maintenance dose.
How do I administer Ozempic?
Semaglutide should be administered once a week, preferably on the same day and time each week. However, if you have to change the day you take it, you can as long as your last dose was at least 2 days prior.
You should inject Semaglutide into the thighs, lower abdomen, or upper arm. A short guide on how to inject it is as follows:
- Prepare the pen and needle - check the name and label of the pen, check the colour of the solution in the pen is clear, not cloudy, and take a new needle.
- Place the new needle - by tearing off the paper tab, push the needle onto the pen and twist it tight, remove the outer cap and keep it to the side and remove the inner needle cap and dispose.
- Check the flow - turn the dose selector until the dose counter shows the flow check symbol, hold the pen with the needle pointing up, and press and hold the dose button until the dose counter returns to 0. A drop of solution should appear at the needle tip.
- Select the dose - keep turning the dose counter until the dose counter stops and shows 0.25mg, 0.5mg or 1mg depending on the dose you require.
- Inject the dose - insert the needle into your skin and press and hold down the dose button until it shows 0, you may hear or feel a click. Keep the needle in and count slowly to 6 before removing, to make sure you get the full dose.
A thorough guide with instructions and diagrams will be available in the patient information leaflet which is supplied in the box with your medication or can be downloaded online from this page.
If you miss a dose, and it has been less than 5 days since your scheduled dose, you should take your missed dose as soon as you remember. If it has been over 5 days since your last dose, do not take an additional dose. Take your next dose at the scheduled time. This is because too much Semaglutide can cause dangerously low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia).
It’s crucial that your pens are stored in the fridge at 2 - 8°C and kept away from any direct light source. An opened pen can last for 6 weeks before it expires. Do not freeze Semaglutide pens.
What are the possible side effects?
As with most prescription medications, Ozempic can cause some side effects. However, the most common side effects are mild and temporary.
Common side effects include:
- feeling sick (nausea)
- being sick (vomiting)
- acid reflux and heartburn
- inflammation of the stomach (gastritis)
- stomach pain
- weight loss
- loss of appetite
Because Ozempic is primarily used to control blood sugar levels. It can cause hypo (hypoglycaemia) where your blood sugar levels drop too low. This is more likely to occur if you take any medications for diabetes.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may experience hypo and you should remedy it immediately:
- pale skin
- cold sweat
- feeling nervous, anxious or confused
- feeling sick and/or starving
- vision changes
- feeling sleepy or weak
- difficulty concentrating
For a comprehensive list of side effects, please consult the patient information leaflet
Who can take Ozempic (Semaglutide)?
Those with a BMI of 30 or over can take Semaglutide for weight loss. You may also take Semaglutide if you have a BMI of 27 or over and have any weight-related conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes.
This medication is not suitable for:
- women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- those with type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis
- those who are allergic to Ozempic or any of the other listed ingredients
Some other groups of people are able to take Semaglutide, but may require additional monitoring from their doctor whilst using it, including those who:
- are taking insulin or other diabetes medications
- are being treated for diabetic retinopathy
- are taking warfarin to reduce blood clotting
- have a history of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- have or have had severe congestive heart failure
If you’re not sure if you fall under any of these categories, you should consult with your GP or healthcare provider before taking Semaglutide.
How do I buy Ozempic (Semaglutide) online?
Semaglutide 0.25, 0.5 and 1mg pre-filled injections are available to purchase off-label here at HealthExpress for weight loss treatment. You have to complete a short, confidential medical questionnaire online before you can purchase Semaglutide. This questionnaire will then be reviewed by one of our UK registered doctors to make sure you are suitable for treatment. Once they have approved, your medication will be dispatched directly to your door with free next-day delivery.