A perk of taking Ozempic® is that it’s quick and easy to use. But while using a self-injection pen is fairly straightforward, there is a process you need to follow.
Ozempic® is a drug licensed to treat type 2 diabetes that’s often prescribed off-label to help with weight loss. It’s available as a pre-filled syringe that’s injected under the skin.
The drug works by acting in the same way as a natural gut hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1): suppressing our appetite and making us feel full.
Taking Ozempic® might feel a bit nerve-wracking if you’ve never used an injectable pen before. Not to worry: we’ve broken down the process into simple steps to help get you on your way.
Ozempic® needs to be injected under the skin either on your stomach, thigh, or upper arm. It shouldn’t be injected into a muscle or a vein—you want to reach the tissue under your skin (called subcutaneous tissue) because it has fewer blood vessels. This enables the drug to be released gradually and consistently until it’s time for your next dose.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use Ozempic®:
Be sure to use soap and water, then dry your hands before using the pen.
This is the part where you prepare your pen for use. First, read the label to double-check that the pen contains Ozempic®, and that the medication inside the pen is clear and colourless.
Then, attach a new needle to the pen. Push and twist it on until it’s secure, and then remove both the needle caps.
Finally, check whether the medicine is flowing through the pen correctly. Turn the dose selector (the white window towards the bottom of the pen) until the flow check symbol is visible. Holding the pen with the needle pointing up, press and hold the dose button (the clicker at the end of the pen) until the dose counter shows the number 0.
At this point, there should be a droplet of medication at the tip of the needle. If there isn’t, repeat the steps above (the FDA recommends trying up to six times). You can try changing the needle if it still isn’t working. If after all your attempts there’s no droplet, don’t use the pen. Call your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
You only need to check the flow when you use a pen for the first time.
Turn the dose counter until it shows the dose you need to inject—check with your doctor if you’re not sure what that is. If you’re within your first four weeks of using Ozempic®, the dose should be 0.25 mg. Then, wipe the spot you’re going to inject into with an alcohol swab and let it dry.
Inject the needle into the skin. Press and hold down the dose button until the number on the dose counter reaches zero. Slowly count to six and then take the needle out.
That’s it, you’re done! Take the needle off the pen carefully and put it in a sharps container, and put the pen cap back onto the pen. If you aren’t sure how to dispose of used needles, ask your pharmacist—don’t throw them away in your regular household bins.
You should use Ozempic® weekly, on the same day each week. But you can take it at any time during that day, either with or without a meal.
The best places to inject Ozempic® are the front of your thighs, the front of your waist on your stomach, or your upper arm. And, as a reminder, it shouldn’t be injected into a vein or muscle.
You should also change up the site of injection each time you use the pen, as injecting into the same place over and over can cause the skin to thicken—which can make it harder for the medicine to be absorbed. You could rotate between the three areas mentioned above every three weeks, for example.
Pain is a subjective experience, especially if you’re already not great with needles. But people who use Ozempic® tend to report that the injection pain is mild or non-existent.
In one clinical trial, 54 out of 104 people (52%) who injected semaglutide, which is the active ingredient in Ozempic®, said that they had no pain at all when injecting; a further 39% said the pain was “very mild”.
Before you use an Ozempic® pen for the first time, you should keep it in the fridge (temperature should be between 2-8 degrees Celsius). Keep it away from the cooling element, and from heat and light. Don’t freeze it, either: you shouldn’t use an Ozempic® pen if it has been frozen.
Once you’ve opened that pen, you can keep it either at room temperature (under 30 degrees Celsius) or in the fridge, away from the cooling element. You can keep it under these conditions for 56 days after you first use it.
It’s important that the pen cap stays on when you aren’t using the pen.
Left your Ozempic® out overnight? If that pen has already been used and you’ve left it in a space that’s at room temperature, you can carry on using it.
But if you haven’t used that pen yet, you may not be able to. Contact your pharmacist or doctor for advice: they might recommend disposing of that pen and starting with a new one.
You can store used Ozempic® pens safely at room temperature for up to 56 days after you first use them. A pen only needs to be in the fridge before you use it for the first time.
If you realise you’ve missed your dose within five days of when you were meant to take it, take the missed dose as soon as possible and then carry on taking Ozempic® on your usual day. So, if you were supposed to take it on Monday but you forgot until Wednesday, you should take the missed dose and then go back to using it every Monday.
But if more than five days have passed since your scheduled day, skip the dose you missed and take the next one on the day you usually take it.
Don’t take a double dose to make up for the one you missed.
It’s not advisable to use medication that’s past its expiry date. The last day you can use an Ozempic® pen is the last day of the month that’s listed on the packaging next to “EXP”.
If you take expired Ozempic® by accident, contact your healthcare provider.
We’re afraid not. Ozempic® needles are designed to be disposable, meaning that they are used once and then safely thrown away.
This is because reusing needles can come with risks, like a higher chance the injection will hurt if the tip of the fine needle becomes dull or distorted.
If need be, you can change the day you take Ozempic® each week—as long as it’s been at least three days since your last injection. This new day should be the regular day you take Ozempic® going forward.
For example, if you usually take Ozempic® on a Thursday (and your last dose was on a Thursday), you could switch to Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, because each of those are at least three days after your last injection. If you picked Tuesday, that would be your new day from now on.
The medication is designed to be taken weekly, so you should stick to that schedule as best you can.
Ozempic® pens are pre-filled with four doses, and after you’ve taken those, you can repeat your prescription. Because the medication is injected weekly, you’ll use each pen for four weeks.
It’s important to check in with your prescriber when your pen runs out, as they might recommend changing your dose at that point.
Just like any other medication, Ozempic® isn’t recommended for everyone. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or who have type 1 diabetes, shouldn’t take Ozempic®.
If you have a personal or family history of thyroid cancer, or problems with your pancreas or kidneys, you should tell your doctor before taking Ozempic®. It’s also a good idea to let them know about any other medicines you’re taking.
Ozempic® is suitable for people with a BMI of 30 or more (for people of certain ethnic backgrounds, BMI can be 27 or higher) and who have at least one health problem that’s related to their weight.
If you don’t have type 2 diabetes, Ozempic® is currently only available in the UK via private prescription.
Tuli’s partner GPs can issue Ozempic® prescriptions as part of our weight loss programme—check if you’re eligible to join by filling out this questionnaire. It takes less than five minutes.
On our programme, you’ll receive a prescription for weight loss medication every four weeks, plus weekly advice from a dietician to help you make healthy lifestyle changes. We’ll also check in with you regularly to support you and share in your success.
Scientific evidence shows that semaglutide, which is the active ingredient in Ozempic®, is effective when taken alongside changes in diet and exercise—which can cause up to 14.9% loss in body weight on average.
Our programme is designed to help you reach your health goals and make changes that last.
Get started by checking your eligibility here.