Ozempic is an FDA-approved medication prescribed to improve blood glucose levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. However, some people use Ozempic for weight loss, which is an off-label use. There has been a reported case that a woman died from a gastrointestinal adverse event that could be linked to the use of Ozempic for weight loss. In this article, you'll learn about the safe usage, side effects, risks of off-label use, and potential gastrointestinal adverse events of Ozempic.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is a brand of drug called semaglutide. It is an FDA-approved drug to improve blood glucose levels in adults with type 2 diabetes alongside a proper diet and exercise regimen. It can also reduce appetite and increase satiety, therefore contributing to weight reduction. However Ozempic is not FDA-approved for weight loss, although it is popularized for this use.
Safe usage of Ozempic
Don't use Ozempic unless it's prescribed by your doctor, specifically as a part of type 2 diabetes treatment. If you're a patient with diabetes prescribed Ozempic, consider the safe usage of the drug, which involves:
Proper prescription by your doctor. Ozempic should only be used when it's prescribed by a healthcare provider after a medical examination. Don't forget to inform your doctor about all the medications you take since other supplements and drugs can interact with Ozempic.
Read the information leaflet before taking a drug. This provides all the information you need before and after taking a drug. You can find uses, dosage, administration, warnings, precautions, adverse reactions and more.
Visually check the drug. If you notice particles or discoloration, do not use the injection. Ozempic should be clear and colorless.
Follow dosage instructions. Follow the dosage instructions given by your doctor. Your healthcare provider can adjust the dosage based on health assessments. Before changing the injection schedule, consult your doctor for the appropriate protocol.
Don't mix Ozempic with insulin injections. Using Ozempic in conjuction with other types of insulin increases the risk of hypoglycaemia which can cause death. Ozempic should be administered alone, either under the skin of your abdomen, thigh, or upper arm..
Follow the diet and exercise program given to you. Your diet, exercise, weight changes, lifestyle factors, and any underlying illnesses influence the dosage of Ozempic you should be prescribed. Follow your healthcare provider's nutrition and exercise recommendations while taking the prescribed dosage.
Possible side effects of Ozempic
Ozempic can cause side effects. Therefore, you're advised to read the medication's guide to be informed about common and severe side effects that may require immediate medical attention.
Most common side effects. More than 5% of patients using Ozempic have reported adverse reactions, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation.
Serious side effects. Ozempic may cause serious adverse events such as hypoglycemia, kidney problems, changes in vision, and gallbladder problems.
Serious allergic reactions. Carefully read the ingredients stated in the information leaflet. If you're allergic to semaglutide or other ingredients, do not use Ozempic.
Pancreatitis. Ozempic can cause pancreatitis, which can be a life-threatening condition. Pancreatitis causes severe and persistent pain in the abdomen. Immediately call your doctor if you think you may have pancreatitis.
Gastrointestinal side effects of Ozempic
There have been cases of death associated with the use of Ozempic for weight loss. A 56-year-old woman who was using Ozempic for weight loss died due to intestinal blockage. Although the death report does not directly link the death to Ozempic's off-label use, her family suspects that she died because of the drug's side effects she was experiencing while using the drug.
The FDA updated certain adverse reactions related to gastrointestinal disorders on the drug label in September 2023. It was added that Ozempic may cause severe gastrointestinal side effects such as ileus and cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation).
Especially individuals with acute kidney injury are at a higher risk of dehydration due to gastrointestinal side effects caused by Ozempic.
Off-label use of Ozempic for weight loss
Ozempic does not have FDA approval for weight loss. Another drug containing semaglutide, called Wegovy, is FDA-approved for weight loss.
Sometimes, healthcare providers may consider an off-label prescription of Ozempic for weight loss. It's crucial to understand that off-label prescription of the drug is a physician's decision based on existing evidence. The safety and effectiveness of Ozempic for weight loss has not been completely established and needs further research.
Drugs may not receive approval for specific uses for various reasons. One reason could be that the company doesn't pursue approval because it's not profitable. Another reason could be that the research demonstrating the drug's efficacy for a specific use is insufficient for FDA approval.
If you're prescribed Ozempic for off-label use, you can ask your doctor for the evidence behind the decision to off-label prescription. If you do not have an Ozempic prescription, do not use the drug for either on-label or off-label purposes.
Do not use Ozempic unless your healthcare provider prescribes it. Using Ozempic without a prescription and doctor's supervision is dangerous and may lead to serious adverse events, including death. It is recommended to consult with a health professional for personalized advice on weight loss and management.
Ozempic is FDA-approved for the purpose of improving blood glucose levels in adults with type 2 diabetes.
Safe usage of Ozempic is crucial to minimize health risks, which involves proper prescription by a healthcare provider, reading the information leaflet, visual inspection of the drug, following specific storage and dosage instructions, and so on.
Ozempic can cause side effects, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, hypoglycemia, kidney problems and ileus (partial or complete blockage of the intestine).
Ozempic's drug label indicates the possibility of experiencing severe gastrointestinal issues, such as intestinal blockage and inflammation of the gallbladder.
You shouldn't use Ozempic if your doctor does not prescribe it. Self-medication of Ozempic can be dangerous when used without professional care, potentially leading to severe adverse events which could be fatal.
For health-conscious and effective weight management, it is important to consult a healthcare provider to develop nutrition plans and explore weight loss interventions. Individual BMI and health conditions must be taken into account when prioritizing optimal health.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Medications Containing Semaglutide Marketed for Type 2 Diabetes or Weight Loss.
- Ozempic. Highlights of Prescribing Information.
- American Family Physician. Off-Label Use of Prescription Drugs.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Drug Safety-related Labeling Changes (SrLC), Ozempic.
- Diabetes.co.uk. Woman suffers fatal intestine blockages after using weight-loss jab.