Ozempic is a brand of the generic drug semaglutide. It is a human glucagon-like peptide-1 that boosts insulin secretion and speeds up cellular glucose absorption. With that said, is it advisable to use it with insulin? Find out below as we answer various FAQs on this anti-diabetes medication.
What Does Ozempic Do?
Ozempic is a subcutaneous medication used to manage type 2 diabetes. It belongs to the drug classification called glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists. Its mechanism of action increases the amount of insulin the liver makes when blood glucose levels are high. This, in turn, promotes faster absorption of glucose into the cells.
Ozempic also slows down the food digestion in the stomach, preventing an increase in the body’s blood sugar levels.
What Drug Forms and Doses Does Ozempic Come In?
Ozempic comes as a pen containing 2 mg/1.5 mL (1.34 mg/mL) of the drug. It has two forms: one that injects 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg of the drug and the other 1 mg. The former can be used four to six times, while the latter can only be used twice.
What is the Ozempic Dosage for Type 2 Diabetes?
The starting dose of Ozempic for diabetes is 0.25 mg once a week for four weeks. If the patient’s blood sugar responds well to this, it will be increased to 0.5 mg once a week for four weeks. This will go on if the blood sugar level remains controlled. Otherwise it may be changed to a different diabetes medication or increased to 1 mg once a week.
How Long Does It Take for Ozempic to Work?
Ozempic immediately works after injection but it may take four to five weeks for the full effects on blood glucose management to take effect.
Is Ozempic the Same as Insulin?
No, Ozempic is not the same as insulin. It is a diabetes medication that can be prescribed for the following conditions according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA):
- kidney disease
- cardiovascular disease (CVD)
- heart failure
Can You Take Ozempic with Insulin?
Yes. There are cases that need the dual blood sugar combatting powers of insulin and Ozempic. This is determined by your healthcare provider. They can be given at the same time and injected on the abdomen, upper arm, or thigh. However, one must allow a few inches of space between the injection sites as these two drugs should not be mixed.
Can You Store Insulin and Ozempic Together?
Both medications should be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature. But it is important to make sure that the syringes and vials are labeled properly and clearly to avoid mishandling and wrong dosing. These drugs should never be mixed when injecting.
Does Ozempic Have an Off-label Use?
Off-label drug use is the use of an FDA-approved drug for a purpose other than what it is approved for. For Ozempic, there are cases when it is used to manage type 2 diabetes. So far, there are no studies that prove it is effective for this condition and the FDA does not not have an official approval either.
Can Every Diabetic Patient Take Ozempic?
The answer is no. The following are contraindications for the intake of Ozempic:
- allergy to semaglutide
- history of cancer, especially thyroid cancer (multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 and medullary thyroid carcinoma)
- a pancreatic condition
- kidney disease
- diabetic ketoacidosis
- intestinal disorder
- eye complication resulting from diabetes
Can Ozempic Be Used Long-term?
Yes. Just like insulin, Ozempic is a long-term prescription medication for type 2 diabetes.
What are the Side Effects of Ozempic?
Nausea is the most common side effect of Ozempic. It occurs in the first few weeks of taking it. It may lessen or completely go away with continued use of the drug. If it does not and becomes severe, inform your physician. You may need an alternative medication as your body is not responding well to Ozempic.
Ozempic has a boxed warning for thyroid cancer. It is the strongest warning required by the FDA for prescription drugs. However, this side effect is a debatable one. Animal studies have shown it but, so far, it has not been observed in humans.
Still, should you experience any of the following symptoms, stop taking the drug and inform your doctor right away:
- a lump in the neck
- hoarseness of voice
- trouble swallowing and breathing
How Much Does Ozempic Cost?
Most pharmacies in the US sell Ozempic for about $856 per 2mg/1.5mL vial. But the price varies depending on the state, stock availability, demand, insurance plan coverage, and special discount entitlement.
Is Ozempic Covered by Insurance?
Yes, there are government and private health insurance policies covering expenses on Ozempic. Here are some of them:
- 85% of Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans cover Ozempic.
- The Typical Co-pay range for it is $25 to $933.
- Eligible commercially insured patients with coverage for Ozempic pay as low as $25 for a 28-day fill. The maximum savings a patient can get with an Ozempic Savings card is $150 per month. There is also a 3-month supply offer with a maximum discount of $450.
How Can You Save on Ozempic Cost?
Apply for the NovoCare or Novo Nordisk Patient Support Program
The Novo Nordisk Patient caters to uninsured and below federal poverty line patients. As for the NovoCare patient assistance program, one must be a US resident and have an FDA-approved diagnosis to be eligible.
Avail of Ozempic Savings Offers
The company that manufactures Ozempic offers free trials, savings cards, and rebate programs. The savings card grants eligible patients to get up to $150 savings per fill.
Buy Ozempic Online
Taking Ozempic with Insulin
The answers to the above questions are only meant to create awareness on the topic and do not give non-health practitioners the license to self-medicate. For combined drug use, possible alternatives, or dosage adjustments, seek professional medical advice.