If you’ve recently been written a prescription for Ozempic, or if you’re looking to purchase a supply for future use, you may have questions about its dosage. While every situation is unique, most patients treated with Ozempic follow a similar dosage progression.
Below, we’ll cover some Ozempic basics—what it is, why it’s prescribed, its forms, strengths, and standard dosing schedule, as well as its potential risks and side effects. We’ll finish off with some frequently asked questions to provide you with a clear overview.
None of the information here constitutes medical advice. It’s only intended to supplement information from your primary healthcare provider and help you better plan for procuring the correct dosages of Ozempic in the future. Always contact your doctor with any specific questions or concerns.
What Is Ozempic?
Produced by Novo Nordisk, Ozempic (semaglutide) is an injectable prescription medication used to treat Type 2 Diabetes in adults. It improves blood sugar control while also decreasing the risk of major cardiovascular events in patients with high cardiovascular risk. As a non-insulin diabetes medication, Ozempic works with the body’s natural ability to lower blood sugar levels by promoting the pancreatic release of insulin. It also prevents the liver from producing and releasing higher glucose levels and slows down food leaving the stomach.
Ozempic is typically administered once per week subcutaneously (under the skin of the stomach, abdomen, thigh, or upper arm). The standard protocol is to begin with a lower starting dose (0.25 mg) and build up to a higher dose (0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg) to increase tolerance and reduce side effects.
Ozempic is a liquid solution in pre-filled injectable pens. Each pen contains several doses of medication and comes with enough fresh needles to administer all of them. Ozempic pens are for single-patient use and should never be shared between patients.
Ozempic pens come in three strengths:
- Ozempic 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg dose (2 mg/1.5 mL subcutaneous pen injector)
- 0.25 mg initial dose is injected weekly for 4 weeks, followed by 2 weeks of 0.5 mg injections to build up a tolerance.
- To maintain a 0.5 mg dosage, continue injections once weekly (each pen contains enough medication for 4 injections).
- Ozempic 1 mg dose (4 mg/3 mL subcutaneous pen injector)
- To maintain a 1 mg dosage, continue injections once weekly (each pen contains enough medication for 4 injections).
- Ozempic 2 mg dose (8 mg/3 mL subcutaneous pen injector)
- To maintain a 2 mg dosage, continue injections once weekly (each pen contains enough medication for 4 injections).
Recommended Ozempic Dosages
The dose of Ozempic recommended for you by your doctor will be determined by your personal needs and response to the medication. Not all patients require the same weekly dosing schedule, and healthcare providers will observe patients carefully to ensure that treatment is progressing appropriately. Your doctor will typically start you at a low dosage and slowly increase it to build up your body’s tolerance to the drug.
A standard weekly administration schedule is outlined below, but remember to follow the specific plan laid out for you by your own doctor and pay close attention to any adverse reactions:
- Begin with a dose of 0.25 mg once weekly for 4 weeks.
- Increase your dosage to 0.5 mg once weekly for 4 more weeks.
- After 4 weeks on a 0.5 mg once weekly dose, your doctor will assess your glucose control. You may remain on a 0.5 mg once weekly dose or your dose may be increased to 1 mg or even 2 mg once weekly.
Using Ozempic Long-Term
Ozempic is meant to be a long-term medication, so if you’ve been prescribed Ozempic, you’ll likely be looking at taking it for a long time. Side effects tend to diminish as your body adjusts to the medication over time, and you may use the drug as long as it continues to effectively treat the conditions your doctor has prescribed it for.
Potential Side Effects
Side effects may occur when starting Ozempic but should decrease as your body adjusts to increased dosages. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain.
Discuss any concerns with your primary healthcare provider, and be sure to disclose any other medications you may be taking (including herbal supplements). Ozempic is not recommended for pregnant women.
Risks & Warnings
Though rare, serious side effects are possible with Ozempic. Major warning signs to watch for include pancreatitis (persistent severe abdominal pain), vision problems (diabetic retinopathy complications), reduced renal function, and serious hypersensitivity reactions such as swelling of the tongue, lips, or face, fainting, or a racing pulse. If any hypersensitivity reactions occur, contact your doctor or call 911 immediately.
In addition, it’s advised not to use Ozempic if you have a personal or family history of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma (MTC) or if you’re at increased risk of Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Syndrome Type 2 (MEN 2). Patients should be referred to an endocrinologist for further evaluation if serum calcitonin is measured and found to be elevated or thyroid nodules are noted on physical examination or neck imaging.
What’s Ozempic’s Dosage Per Pen?
Ozempic pens come in different strengths and dosages, depending on your prescription. You’ll typically begin with a low dose and gradually build up to higher doses to increase tolerance and decrease side effects.
- The 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg strength comes in a pen that contains up to 6 doses.
- The 1 mg strength comes in a pen that contains 4 doses.
- The 2 mg strength comes in a pen that contains 4 doses.
Does Ozempic Require a Prescription?
Yes. Ozempic is a prescription drug for treating Type 2 Diabetes and related cardiovascular conditions in adults. If you plan to use Ozempic for another purpose, such as weight loss, your doctor will need to write you an “off-label” prescription.
Wegovy, a similar semaglutide drug that has been approved for weight loss, also requires a prescription from a doctor.
How Do I Use Ozempic?
Ozempic is administered once per week subcutaneously (under the skin of the stomach, abdomen, thigh, or upper arm). The standard protocol is to begin with a lower starting dose (0.25 mg) and build up to a higher dose (0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg) to increase tolerance and reduce side effects. For more information on how and where to inject Ozempic read this post.
In consultation with your doctor, you’ll be shown how to cleanse the injection site, attach a clean needle to the Ozempic pen, select the correct dose using the dose counter dial, inject Ozempic, safely dispose of the needle, and properly store the remaining Ozempic for future injections.
What if I Miss a Dose?
Ozempic is typically self-injected once per week, on the same day of the week, with or without a meal. A missed dose should be taken as soon as possible, any time up until 5 days after the day it was originally supposed to be administered. After 5 days have passed, the dose is skipped entirely, and the next dose is taken on the correct day of the following week.
Ozempic is a prescription drug that’s used to treat Type 2 Diabetes and underlying cardiovascular conditions. Many patients treated with a weekly administration of Ozempic experience a rapid improvement in glycemic control and weight loss management.
While every patient is unique, Ozempic dosage typically follows a standard schedule, building up a tolerance to the medication over a series of weeks before arriving at a therapeutic dose for long-term maintenance.
If you’re looking to order Ozempic from Canada, discuss your dosage progression with your doctor first so that you can purchase the correct Ozempic pens for your needs.
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About the Author
Ida Edlweiss Gumpal is a licensed Pharmacist and medical writer. She took her internships at Mercury Drug Corporation, Inc., a Hospital internship at De Vera Medical Center, Inc., and a Manufacturing internship at Philmed Laboratories, Inc. She has plans on attending medical school with the goal of specializing in Neurosurgery or Cardiothoracic surgery.