What is Ozempic?

Ozempic (semaglutide) is a treatment option for adults with type 2 diabetes from Novo Nordisk, the manufacturers of Wegovy and Saxenda. Both Ozempic and Wegovy are weekly injections, delivered into the upper arm, upper thigh or stomach area. While Ozempic is similar to Wegovy in many ways, it does have a few differences – Ozempic is licensed as a diabetes medication, while Wegovy is licensed for weight loss. However, both use the same active ingredient – semaglutide.

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Semaglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist – this means it mimics the action of naturally-occuring hormones produced by your body, which help control appetite and digestion. By mimicking these hormones, Ozempic can make you feel fuller for longer, even when you eat less food. It also keeps food in your stomach longer, allowing it to be better digested. This can help you to control your appetite, allowing people with type 2 diabetes to improve blood sugar levels.

In Wegovy, a higher dose is used. This helps to control appetite further, and gives stronger weight loss effects. However, this isn’t enough to make you lose weight on its own – both Ozempic and Wegovy require you to follow a calorie-controlled diet and increase your levels of exercise to lose weight. Semaglutide only helps control your appetite – it does not burn fat or actively make you lose weight on its own.

Ozempic is normally only available as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, especially when provided on the NHS. In some cases, doctors will prescribe Ozempic injections “off-label” for weight loss. Most commonly, this will not be done on the NHS – in most cases, you will need to speak to a specialist weight loss clinic before getting weight loss medications on the NHS.

These clinics will monitor your progress and offer support throughout your weight loss journey. Speak to your doctor or health professional for more information about whether this might be available to you.

What is the Ozempic Dosage for Weight Loss?

Getting the Ozempic dosage for weight loss right is incredibly important. As it is used to help treat diabetes and balance blood sugar levels, Ozempic generally comes in lower doses than Wegovy. Ozempic starts at a 0.25mg dose, then moves to a 0.5 or 1mg dose, with a 2mg dose available in some cases. Wegovy still uses the 0.25mg, 0.5mg and 1mg doses; after that, it rises to 1.7mg, then 2.4mg.

Both Ozempic and Wegovy are designed to be “ramped up” – starting at a lower dose and working your way up over a course of weeks. This helps your body adjust to the medication, reducing the risk of side effects that could occur if you start at a higher dose. This ramping up is sometimes referred to as titration, and is a common system for use with medications that cause certain side effects.

Most patients will see better results at higher doses, but also may experience worse side effects. If you find your side effects are too much, you can move back to a lower dose, where you will still see some weight loss effects, but at a reduced rate. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you feel like you need to change your dosage, or that your side effects are unmanageable.

Currently, there are no studies that assess the different levels of weight loss at each dosage. The Wegovy guidelines state that you should take the maximum dose (2.4mg) if you are trying to lose weight. If you struggle to cope with the side effects at this dose, your doctor can temporarily reduce your dose back down to 1.7mg whilst your body gets used to the drug. In special cases, your doctor may recommend that you continue Wegovy at a lower dose.

Ozempic Dosage Chart

The following dosage guide should give you an idea of how you can work your way up to a higher dose of Ozempic. If you would like more prescribing information, please refer to the Patient Information Leaflet. Ozempic Dosage Chart

As the chart above shows, you will start Ozempic at 0.25mg. Each week, you will use one of the four doses in the pen, until it runs out. Once the pen is done, you will move up to the next pen, until you hit the maximum 2mg dose. While the above graphic is designed for using Ozempic for diabetes, the same principle is followed when using this treatment for weight loss.

If you wish to move down to a lower dose of Ozempic, or stay at a certain dose for longer, speak to your doctor before changing this dosage schedule.

What is the Starting Dose?

The starting dose of Ozempic is 0.25 mg. Even at this strength, you may see some weight loss effects. As your appetite is being regulated, you may find yourself eating less, which can help you lose weight.

Using this lower dose long-term may have some weight loss effects, as your appetite will be curbed slightly. However, you will see better results with a higher dose.

How Do I Increase my Dose?

Each Ozempic pen comes with 4 pre-measured doses of medication. Once you have exhausted the 4 doses over the course of a month, you can either move up to the next dose, or stick with the dose you are on. Most people who stick with a lower dose do so because of side effects – by giving their body longer to adjust to the medication, they can reduce these effects as they come up.

Increasing your dose is as easy as switching to the next pen. Ensure your Ozempic pens are stored properly, kept in the fridge between uses.

What is the Maximum Dose?

The maximum dose for Ozempic is 2mg. This is referred to as the “maintenance dose”, as it is the dose you work up to over the course of weeks to reach and is maintained going forward. However, should you require a higher dose of semaglutide, Wegovy is available at a 2.4mg dose. This will have a stronger effect at controlling your appetite, but may also come with side effects.

If you have not started to lose weight by the time you reach this dose, or have lost less than 5% of your starting weight, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. They will likely take you off this medication, and discuss alternative treatments that may work better for you.

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Summary

  • Ozempic is a treatment for type 2 diabetes, which can be used for weight loss under certain circumstances.
  • The NHS will most likely not provide Ozempic for weight loss – you will need to organise a private prescription or consult with a private medical service.
  • Ozempic is available in 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg and 2mg dosages. You will move up dosages as you progress through your treatment.
  • The higher the dose you are taking, the stronger the effects will be – however, starting at higher doses is more likely to cause side effects.
  • Both Ozempic and Wegovy require diet and exercise to be most effective.