Ozempic (semaglutide) is a brand-name subcutaneous injection pen that your doctor may prescribe off-label for weight loss. The drug isn’t approved for this use. However, it may be helpful for weight loss.
Ozempic belongs to a drug class called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 agonists). The medication is not available in a generic version.
Read on for more information about Ozempic. You can also refer to this article for a comprehensive look at Ozempic and its approved uses.
Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Ozempic to treat type 2 diabetes and reduce specific cardiovascular risks in people with type 2 diabetes. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe Ozempic off-label for weight loss. Off-label drug use is when an FDA-approved drug is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about using Ozempic for weight loss.
Is there a 6-week weight loss plan for Ozempic?
The manufacturer of Ozempic has not provided a 6-week weight loss plan for the drug. This is because Ozempic is not approved as a weight loss drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The drug is currently FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes and reduce specific cardiovascular risks in people with type 2 diabetes.
However, your doctor may prescribe Ozempic off-label for weight loss. (Off-label drug use is when an FDA-approved drug is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.)In this case, they can advise whether a specific 6-week weight loss plan is recommended.
If you want to use Ozempic for weight loss, talk with your doctor. They’ll determine whether Ozempic may be safe or effective for you if used off-label for weight loss.
Can Ozempic be used for weight loss in someone who doesn’t have diabetes?
Possibly, if a doctor recommends it.
Currently, Ozempic is only approved for use in people with type 2 diabetes. However, doctors may prescribe Ozempic off-label for weight loss. For this purpose, they may prescribe the drug to someone who does not have type 2 diabetes.
To learn more, see the “Who Ozempic is prescribed for” section below.
If you have questions about using Ozempic for weight loss, talk with your doctor.
How quickly does Ozempic work for weight loss?
How quickly Ozempic works for weight loss will vary from person to person. It may take several weeks after your first injection to notice weight loss with the drug.
If you have questions about what to expect when Ozempic is used off-label for weight loss, talk with your doctor.
Will I have to take Ozempic long term for weight loss?
Yes, you’ll likely take Ozempic long term for weight loss.
This is because weight lost while taking Ozempic may return after stopping the drug, according to some
If you have questions about how long you’ll use Ozempic for weight loss, talk with your doctor.
The off-label use of Ozempic for weight loss may cause side effects that are mild or serious. Off-label drug use is when a medication the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.
The lists below include some of the main side effects reported in clinical trials of Ozempic for its FDA-approved uses. The side effects of Ozempic when used off-label for weight loss are expected to be similar.
For information about other potential side effects of the drug, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also refer to Ozempic’s prescribing information.
Note: After the FDA approves a medication, it tracks and reviews side effects of the drug. If you develop a side effect while taking Ozempic and would like to inform the FDA, visit MedWatch.
Mild side effects
Ozempic may cause certain mild side effects. Examples include:
- slight increase in heart rate
- changes in your sense of taste, such as having a metallic, sour, or bitter taste in your mouth
- injection site reactions, such as skin discoloration around the area where Ozempic is injected
- digestive problems, such as:
These side effects of Ozempic may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. But if they last for a longer time, or if they bother you or become severe, it’s important to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Although rare, the use of Ozempic may lead to serious side effects. These can include:
- hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- kidney problems, such as kidney failure
- gallbladder disease, which may include gallstones or cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
- risk of thyroid cancer*
- allergic reaction†
Call your doctor right away if you develop serious side effects while using Ozempic. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
* Ozempic has a
† An allergic reaction is possible after using Ozempic. This side effect wasn’t reported in clinical trials of the drug’s approved uses. However, allergic reaction has been reported since Ozempic became available for use.
How much Ozempic costs is based on several factors. These can include your prescribed treatment regimen, the insurance plan you have, the pharmacy you use, and your location.
It’s important to note that the cost of Ozempic when used off-label* for weight loss may differ from when it’s prescribed for uses approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This could occur because of differences in insurance coverage. For example, insurance may not cover the cost of Ozempic when used for weight loss even if the drug is typically covered for FDA-approved uses.
To learn more, talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance provider. You can also view this article for details about the cost of Ozempic.
* Off-label drug use is when a drug the FDA has approved is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.
How to buy Ozempic for weight loss
If you’re interested in using Ozempic for weight loss, which is an off-label use, talk with your doctor. They can help determine whether Ozempic might be a good choice for you and provide a prescription.
Another easy way to obtain Ozempic is by talking with a reputable telehealth service, such as Calibrate or Ro Body. A licensed healthcare professional (such as a doctor) will evaluate your health. If they determine that Ozempic may be right for you, they’ll provide an electronic prescription. You can then order the medication through the service. The services also include coaching and other support to help you lose and manage your weight.
If you do get an Ozempic prescription through Calibrate or Ro Body, we encourage you to tell your doctor. It’s important that they know about all medications you take.
Below is information about dosages of Ozempic when used off-label for weight loss. However, it’s important to follow the instructions and dosage your doctor has prescribed.
Your doctor will typically start with a low dosage of Ozempic and adjust it over time to reach an amount that’s right for you. The exact dosage you’re prescribed will depend on how well Ozempic is working for weight loss.
A possible dosage plan your doctor may prescribe is as follows:
- A starting dose of 0.25 milligrams (mg) once per week for 4 weeks.
- At this point, your doctor may increase your dosage to 0.5 mg once per week for at least 4 weeks.
- If needed, they may continue increasing your dosage every 4 weeks. The maximum dose with Ozempic pens is 2 mg given once per week.
However, the dosage your doctor prescribes when Ozempic is used off-label for weight loss may differ from that described above. Always follow the dosage prescribed by your doctor.
Note: In addition to being prescribed off-label for weight loss, Ozempic is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for certain uses. Keep in mind that the drug’s dosage may differ with these approved uses. To learn more, talk with your doctor.
How to use
Ozempic comes as a liquid solution inside a single-use injection pen. It’s given as a subcutaneous injection. You can inject Ozempic under the skin of your thigh or belly. If needed, a caregiver can give you an injection under the skin of your upper arm.
To learn more about how to use Ozempic, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
How often to use
Ozempic is injected once per week. You can inject the drug any time of day. However, try to inject it on the same day each week.
You should not take Ozempic for weight loss unless your doctor has prescribed the drug for this purpose. The use of Ozempic for weight loss is considered an off-label use. Off-label drug use is when a medication the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.
Your doctor will determine whether it’s safe for you to take Ozempic off-label for weight loss.
For example, doctors may prescribe Ozempic off-label for weight loss in adults with either of the following:
- Obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.
- Overweight, defined as a BMI of 27 or greater, and at least one health condition related to weight. Examples include type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
This is because semaglutide was shown to help with weight loss in adults meeting either of these qualifications in studies.
Below are details about Ozempic works for its approved and off-label uses.
The way Ozempic works
Ozempic is a type of drug called a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 agonists). It works by mimicking the activity of GLP-1, which is a hormone found naturally in the body.
Ozempic works in several ways to treat type 2 diabetes:
- reduces the amount of glucose (sugar) released into your blood
- increases the amount of insulin your body makes after you eat
- increases the amount of time it takes food to pass through your stomach, which prevents your blood sugar from spiking after you eat
By reducing blood sugar in these ways, Ozempic can help reduce specific cardiovascular risks related to type 2 diabetes.
Ozempic works for weight loss by reducing your appetite. As a result, you may consume fewer calories. Taking in fewer calories could lead to weight loss.
The use of Ozempic in combination with lifestyle and diet changes has been shown to result in weight loss.
In clinical trials of Ozempic for people with type 2 diabetes, many people lost weight while using the drug together with counseling for lifestyle, habit, and diet changes. However, these trials did not specifically evaluate Ozempic as a weight loss medication.
Note: Wegovy contains the same active drug (semaglutide) as Ozempic. Wegovy is specifically approved for weight loss. You can refer to this article for a comprehensive look at Wegovy and its approved uses.
Before your doctor prescribes Ozempic off-label for weight loss, there’s some important information to keep in mind. The drug may not be a safe option for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Some of these are mentioned below.
Off-label drug use is a drug the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.
Boxed warning: Risk of thyroid cancer
Animal trials showed an increased risk of thyroid cancer in animals given semaglutide (the active drug in Ozempic). Animal trials don’t always predict what happens in humans. It isn’t known for certain whether Ozempic increases the risk of thyroid cancer in humans.
Due to this risk, doctors typically will not prescribe Ozempic if you have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). MTC is a type of thyroid cancer. They also typically won’t prescribe the drug if you have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN2). MEN2 is a genetic (inherited) condition that may lead to thyroid cancer.
While using Ozempic, tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of thyroid cancer. Examples include trouble swallowing, a hoarse voice, and a lump in your neck. If you have these symptoms, your doctor may give you tests to check for thyroid cancer.
In addition to boxed warnings, Ozempic has other warnings.
If any of the following medical conditions or other health factors are relevant to you, talk with your doctor before using Ozempic:
- if you have a kidney problem, such as kidney failure
- if you have diabetic retinopathy (eye damage related to diabetes)
- if you have a history of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- if you’re pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
- if you’re breastfeeding or thinking of breastfeeding
- if you’ve had an allergic reaction to Ozempic or any of its ingredients
Now that you’ve learned about the off-label use of Ozempic for weight loss, you may still have some questions. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist, who can advise you on whether Ozempic might be right for you.
Here are some other helpful references:
- More details. For details about Ozempic and its FDA-approved uses, refer to this article.
- Information about weight loss. For more information about weight loss, see our exercise & fitness hub and nutrition hub.
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.