Home Drugs Ozempic

Ozempic (Semaglutide)

Ozempic, a brand name semaglutide drug, is an injectable medication that treats Type 2 diabetes. Some patients also use it off-label as a weight loss drug. Common, minor side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The drug has a boxed warning for thyroid tumors.

Last Modified: May 10, 2024
Fact Checked
Medically Reviewed

Board-certified physicians medically review Drugwatch.com content to ensure its accuracy and quality.

Drugwatch.com partners with Physicians’ Review Network Inc. to enlist specialists. PRN is a nationally recognized leader in providing independent medical reviews.

Reviewer specialties include internal medicine, gastroenterology, oncology, orthopedic surgery and psychiatry.

Why Trust DrugWatch?

Drugwatch.com has been empowering patients for more than a decade

Drugwatch.com has provided reliable, trusted information about medications, medical devices and general health since 2008. We’ve also connected thousands of people injured by drugs and medical devices with top-ranked national law firms to take action against negligent corporations.

Our team includes experienced medical writers, award-winning journalists, researchers and certified medical and legal experts. Drugwatch.com is HONCode (Health On the Net Foundation) certified. This means the high-quality information we provide comes from credible sources, such as peer-reviewed medical journals and expert interviews.

The information on Drugwatch.com has been medically and legally reviewed by more than 30 expert contributors, including doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, patient advocates and other health care professionals. Our writers are members of professional associations, including American Medical Writers Association, American Bar Association, The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates and International Society for Medical Publication Professionals.

About Drugwatch.com

  • Assisting patients and their families since 2008.
  • Helped more than 12,000 people find legal help.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed medical and legal information site.
Learn More About Us


"Drugwatch opened my eyes to the realities of big pharmacy. Having a family member with major depression and anxiety, I was looking for information on her medications. I found information that was very helpful, that her psychiatrist never told her."
Marianne Zahren Patient’s Family Member
  • Google Business Rating
  • BBB A+ Rating Logo

What Is Ozempic?

Ozempic (semaglutide) is a prescription drug and Type 2 diabetes injection approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is also used to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events in adults with Type 2 diabetes who already have cardiovascular disease. It belongs to the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist class of medications.

The drug isn’t FDA-approved to treat obesity, but some doctors prescribe it for off-label uses such as weight loss for people without Type 2 diabetes. However, Wegovy (semaglutide) is another injectable form of semaglutide which is approved by the FDA for weight loss. Other drugs in the same class include Rybelsus (semaglutide), Saxenda (liraglutide) and Victoza (liraglutide). Mounjaro (tirzepatide) is a GIP/GLP-1 receptor agonist.

People with Type 1 diabetes shouldn’t use Ozempic, and studies haven’t shown if Ozempic is safe for children under 18.

How Does Ozempic Work?

Ozempic injections are once-a-week shots that work in the pancreas, liver and stomach to reduce blood sugar. According to Novo Nordisk, Ozempic is designed to respond when your blood sugar rises by working with the body’s natural processes to lower sugar levels.

When your blood sugar is high, Ozempic helps the pancreas make more insulin. It also slows the process of food leaving the stomach and prevents the liver from releasing too much glucose into the blood.

Three ways ozempic works

Dosages for Ozempic include 0.5 mg, 1 mg or 2 mg. You may start on a 0.25 mg dose for 4 weeks prior to the 0.5 mg so that your body can get used to the medication. Doctors will adjust the dose depending on a person’s need for blood sugar control or the off-label use for weight loss.

Using Ozempic Correctly

Before you use the Ozempic Type 2 diabetes shot for the first time, your health care provider will show you how to inject it. The patient information that comes with your medication also has tips on how to use Ozempic correctly.

“Each patient should pay close attention to the directions the clinician gives, reread the directions listed on the medications and if they have any doubt, never hesitate to reach out to their clinician for clarification.”
Antoni Adamrovich, MSN, BA, APRN, FNP-C Co-owner of TB2.Health

Inject Ozempic once a week under the skin in the thigh, upper arm or stomach. Don’t inject Ozempic into your muscle or vein. Change the spot where you inject Ozempic each week, and don’t share Ozempic injector pens with other people.

“Each patient should pay close attention to the directions the clinician gives, reread the directions listed on the medications and if they have any doubt, never hesitate to reach out to their clinician for clarification,” Antoni Adamrovich, MSN, BA, APRN, FNP-C, told Drugwatch.

Ozempic Side Effects

Common but mild Ozempic side effects such as nausea, stomach upset or constipation usually go away after your body gets used to the medication. If any of these persist or are bothersome, contact your health care provider right away.

Common Ozempic side effects that occurred in at least 5% of patients in clinical trials include:
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea increased in patients taking the 1 mg dose versus the .5 mg dose of Ozempic. More patients in clinical trials who experienced gastrointestinal issues discontinued treatment versus people who took a placebo.

Some patients don’t experience many side effects at all. Paul Moss, co-owner of TB2.Health, told Drugwatch he took semaglutide as a weight loss patient and had mild side effects.

“A few weeks in, I had nausea, and then after that, I had lethargy. Those were the only two side effects I experienced,” Moss said.

Less Common Side Effects

Novo Nordisk said it received reports of less common, more serious side effects such as hypersensitivity, rash, swelling and gallbladder issues in post-marketing reports. However, because these reports are voluntary, the drug maker can’t definitively link these adverse events directly to Ozempic.

Other less common Ozempic side effects include:
  • Allergic reactions
  • Changes in blood work
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Gallstones
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Injection site reactions

Acute gastroparesis may cause severe vomiting, abdominal pain, problems digesting food, feelings of constant fullness and malnutrition. It can lead to hospitalization. Some patients have filed Ozempic lawsuits claiming Novo Nordisk failed to warn that Ozempic could lead to this severe side effect. One claim named both Ozempic and Mounjaro as the cause of severe gastrointestinal side effects.

Lawsuit Information
Lawsuits are being filed by people who developed severe gastroparesis after using Ozempic.
View Lawsuits

Ozempic Precautions & Interactions

Ozempic’s drug label includes several precautions and drug interaction warnings, including a boxed warning for thyroid tumors and cancer. In animal studies, researchers found semaglutide caused dose-dependent thyroid C-cell tumors and medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC).

However, researchers don’t know if these findings are the same in humans. People at risk for MTC shouldn’t use Ozempic.

Other warnings and precautions include:
  • Ozempic may harm a fetus. Pregnant women shouldn’t use Ozempic unless the benefits outweigh the risks.
  • Patients taking GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Ozempic have reported kidney injuries and renal failure that may require hemodialysis.
  • One Ozempic patient had a confirmed case of chronic pancreatitis. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain that radiates to the back and may or may not be accompanied by vomiting.
  • Patients in clinical trials with Type 2 diabetes and a higher risk of cardiovascular problems who took Ozempic had more incidents of diabetic retinopathy compared to those who took a placebo.

Ozempic may interact with insulin or sulfonylureas and increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Doctors may have to reduce the dosage of these drugs when starting Ozempic treatment if a patient has to take them together with Ozempic.

Because Ozempic slows the movement of food through the stomach, it may affect how well a person absorbs oral medications. In clinical trials, Ozempic didn’t affect absorption to a “clinically relevant degree,” but people who take other medications should talk to their doctor about any risks.

Ozempic for Weight Loss

According to a study published in June 2023 in The Lancet, Ozempic helps a person lose about 15% of their body weight.

Although the FDA hasn’t approved Ozempic for weight loss, some doctors prescribe it for this off-label use. The FDA allows off-label prescribing at doctors’ discretion.

Did You Know?
Ozempic can help a person lose about 15% of their body weight.
Source: The Lancet

Off-label use of a drug can be risky. There are no clinical trials to prove the safety and efficacy of using Ozempic for weight loss. However, Novo Nordisk makes another semaglutide drug, Wegovy, that is FDA-approved for weight loss.

Wegovy and Ozempic are both semaglutide drugs, but they have slightly different dosages for what the FDA approved them for. A person must have a body mass index of 30 or above or have a BMI of 27 along with additional health risks to qualify for a Wegovy prescription. Doctors may use the same criteria to prescribe Ozempic for off-label use.

“The reason why these drugs work is that most people who can’t lose weight have a problem with insulin resistance. It’s not necessarily always just calories in calories out,” said Dr. Sue Decotiis, triple board-certified weight loss physician.

Ozempic Shortages

High demand has led to an Ozempic shortage, and as of March 2024, the Ozempic shortage has not yet abated. This has led to challenges for patients who use it for Type 2 diabetes and weight loss, as well as other off-label uses.

In addition to high demand and manufacturing constraints, there is no generic Ozempic. In fact, in 2022, Novo Nordisk sued several generic manufacturers that applied for FDA approval to make generic Ozempic. Some patients use compounding pharmacies to legally obtain the drugs, but others have used unauthorized counterfeit versions that have flooded the market, putting themselves at risk.

“Patients have felt the brunt of these [Ozempic and GLP-1 drug] shortages, with strict criteria for access, resorting to obtaining unofficial drugs, not using full doses on schedule to stretch out their personal supply, and just going without.”
Betty Pio, Healthcare and Life Sciences Practice of Kearney, a global strategy and management consulting firm

Some Type 2 diabetes patients like Stephan T., who is omitting his last name for privacy reasons, lowered their dose to make their prescriptions last.

“The issue I ran into with Ozempic and Mounjaro, because they were so difficult to get, was I started going on and off the drugs, which is not healthy,” Stephan T. told Drugwatch. “It became a case of Whack-A-Mole, where I had to move my prescription to different pharmacies just to get it, and that sometimes took weeks.”

Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly Respond to Shortages

Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are aware of the shortages and have come up with some strategies to respond to shortages, such as ramping up manufacturing and investing in additional manufacturing capacity. Both companies are spending billions to meet demand.

“Novo and Eli Lilly are utilizing a combination of internal and external capacity for both synthesis and fill-finish operations. Novo Recently purchased Catalant’s three fill-finish plants for $16.5 billion in February 2024. Lilly is also investing in additional manufacturing capacity — a $2.5 billion investment in a new plant in Germany and an extra $1.6 billion investment in the US plant totaling $6.4 billion within three years,” said Betty Pio, a partner in the Healthcare and Life Sciences Practice of Kearney, a global strategy and management consulting firm.

“Patients have felt the brunt of these [Ozempic and GLP-1 drug] shortages, with strict criteria for access, resorting to obtaining unofficial drugs, not using full doses on schedule to stretch out their personal supply, and just going without,” Pio said.

Unfortunately, the shortages aren’t going to end anytime soon. Shortages are expected to last into 2025, according to Pio.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.