Ozempic is an injectable type 2 diabetes medication taken once a week. It has also been shown to effectively help users lose weight. Ozempic contains the active ingredient semaglutide. This mimics a hormone that tells your brain you feel full, suppressing your appetite. Although it is not currently available in the UK for weight loss, there are alternatives, such as Saxenda. Saxenda is injected daily, though and contains a different active ingredient.

Wegovy is a version of Ozempic made for weight loss.

Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Development

Medically reviewed by

Dr Babak Ashrafi

Last reviewed: 09 Feb 2024

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is an injection containing the active ingredient semaglutide and is used to manage blood sugar levels and HbA1c in people with type 2 diabetes. Ozempic, or semaglutide, is a GLP-1 analogue medicine. This means it increases the level of a specific hormone, called incretin, to help your body produce more insulin when it is needed. People with type 2 diabetes who use Ozempic to manage their blood sugar levels have reported weight loss.

Good to know: You must have a prescription from a doctor to be able to get Ozempic from a pharmacy for type 2 diabetes.

Is Ozempic available for weight loss?

Ozempic is not currently licensed for weight loss in the UK.

In the meantime, there are licensed weight loss medicines available. Wegovy, for example, is an injectable medicine that contains the same active ingredient and that should be available for weight loss in the UK at some point in 2023.

How does Ozempic work?

Ozempic belongs to a group of medicines called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists. When used to manage blood glucose levels, Ozempic works by binding to a receptor called the GLP-1 receptor which stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas when you need it. The release of insulin lowers blood sugar levels and slows the release of glucagon (sugar) from your liver.

How effective is Ozempic?

Research shows that semaglutide is effective at lowering blood glucose levels. Injected semaglutide lowered HbA1c levels by 1.01% and 1.38% in clinical trials and was shown to be a more efficient treatment compared to other anti-diabetic medicines.

How long does Ozempic take to work?

Many people notice that their blood sugar levels are lower within the first week of using Ozempic but it can take 8 weeks or more to see the full effects.

Is Ozempic safe?

Ozempic is considered safe for use to treat type 2 diabetes but only under the instruction of your doctor.

Who can use Ozempic?

Ozempic is recommended for adults whose type 2 diabetes cannot be controlled by other medications. For example:

  • when metformin is not considered appropriate for use because of intolerance or contraindications
  • in addition to other diabetes medicines

Ozempic should be used alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise. You should not use Ozempic if you are allergic to any of its ingredients, including semaglutide. It is also not suitable if you have type 1 diabetes.

How to take Ozempic

You take Ozempic by injecting it once a week. You should only use Ozempic exactly how your doctor has prescribed. The dose must only be changed if your doctor tells you to.

How do I inject Ozempic?

Ozempic is injected under the skin (subcutaneously). It comes as a pre-filled pen which you use by placing on the injection site.

Where can I inject Ozempic?

Ozempic can be injected under the skin on your upper arm, stomach, or thigh. You should avoid using the same injection site each time.

How long does an Ozempic pen last?

An Ozempic pen should be thrown away after 56 days even if it has medicine still in it. Discard it in your sharps bin and make a note of the disposal date on your calendar.

Is Ozempic available as a tablet?

Although the brand name Ozempic isn’t available as a tablet, the active ingredient, semaglutide, is. It is available for the treatment of type 2 diabetes under the brand name Rybelsus. Rybelsus tablets are usually taken once per day at least 2 hours after food. It works in the same way as an Ozempic injection and has the same effects.


The following table shows the strength of each Ozempic dose:

Semaglutide strength (mg)Dose (ml)

The starting dose for Ozempic is 0.25 mg once per week. You will usually take this dose for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, your doctor will increase your dose to 0.5 mg of Ozempic to be injected once per week.

If after another 4 weeks, your blood sugar levels are still not under control, your doctor may decide to prescribe 1 mg once per week. If after a further 4 weeks no improvement is seen, your dose can be increased to 2 mg per week to improve blood glucose levels. This is the maximum dose available.

Important: Only make changes to your dose if your doctor has advised you to.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of Ozempic, you should inject the missed dose as soon as possible within 5 days after the missed dose.

If more than 5 days have passed since your missed dose, you should skip the missed dose, and take your next dose on your regularly scheduled day. Afterwards, you should resume your usual once-weekly dosing schedule.

Where to buy Ozempic

You can buy Ozempic online or from a pharmacy if you have a prescription for it.

Ozempic is currently only licensed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, though, and is not available for weight loss.

Can you buy Ozempic online?

You may be able to request Ozempic online from online pharmacies but you will need a prescription to get it. Before buying any medicines online you should check that the online service and healthcare professionals are registered with UK regulators such as the General Pharmaceutical Council, CQC, and General Medical Council.

Can you buy Ozempic over the counter?

Ozempic is not available over the counter. It is a prescription-only medicine (POM).

Is Ozempic available on the NHS?

Yes, Ozempic is available on the NHS for people with type 2 diabetes.

What are the side effects of Ozempic?

Like all medicines, Ozempic can cause side effects, but you may not experience any. Here is a list of potential Ozempic side effects.


  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • diarrhoea
  • being sick (vomiting)
  • indigestion
  • inflamed stomach (gastritis)
  • heartburn
  • bloating
  • stomach pain
  • gas
  • gallstones
  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • low appetite
  • weight loss
  • low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)
  • diabetic eye disease (retinopathy) complications
  • eye problems, such as vision changes


  • change in taste
  • fast pulse
  • allergic reactions
  • injection site reactions like bruising, pain, irritation and rash
  • inflamed pancreas

Ozempic slows the time it takes for food and drink to pass through your stomach. Sometimes, this can lead to side effects such as feeling or being sick and diarrhoea. If this happens, you should drink plenty of fluids (water) to prevent dehydration.

How to manage the side effects of Ozempic

If you experience any side effects while taking Ozempic, you should speak to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist for advice. Most common side effects can be managed at home by making sure you stay hydrated and taking over the counter pain relief.

Usually, side effects will go away naturally as your body gets used to the treatment.

Are there any long-term side effects?

Most side effects will get better quickly once you stop treatment.

A condition called diabetic retinopathy requires special attention. It is a serious eye disease that can cause blindness in people with type 2 diabetes. Some people who take Ozempic may notice a temporary worsening of this condition. If this happens, you should speak to your doctor for advice and maintain regular vision checkups.

Are there any serious side effects of Ozempic?

There are some serious side effects associated with Ozempic, but these are rare.

One of the most serious potential side effects of Ozempic is it might increase the risk of thyroid tumours or thyroid cancer. This was shown to be true in rodent studies with this drug, but not in humans (though it cannot be fully excluded).

If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should speak to your doctor immediately:

  • a lump or swelling in your neck
  • neck pain
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • voice changes
  • a cough that won’t go away

Interactions with other medications

Semaglutide delays gastric emptying, or the time it takes for food to travel through your digestive system, so it can affect the absorption of orally administered medicines. You should tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines including herbal remedies.

You should also tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines:

  • warfarin or other blood clotting medicines
  • insulin

Interactions with food/drinks

You should try to limit your alcohol intake if you are diabetic as this can affect your glucose control.

Alternative weight loss medications

Although Ozempic is not yet available to treat weight loss in the UK, there are alternatives that you could try. There are 2 types of treatment available: injections and tablets.

Weight loss injections

There are weight loss injections available that should be administered alongside a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise to be effective. These treatments are only available on prescription. For example, Superdrug Online Doctor currently offers Saxenda, but Wegovy will also be available soon.


Saxenda is a prescription-only weight loss injection that contains the active ingredient liraglutide and is injected every day. Saxenda is only prescribed for people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above or 27 or above with weight-related health issues. It works by mimicking a hormone called glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) which tells your brain that you feel full, making you less hungry. When using Saxenda you can expect to lose at least 5% of your body weight after around 17 weeks of treatment, but how much you can lose in total will depend on other factors such as following a calorie-controlled diet and regular exercise.


Wegovy is another injectable weight loss medication for obese or overweight adults. It is used once a week and mimics the hormone that is responsible for telling your brain that you feel full, GLP-1. Wegovy contains the active ingredient semaglutide and is an effective weight-loss tool. Wegovy is similar to Ozempic because it contains the same active ingredient, although in a higher dose, and is specifically available for weight loss.


Victoza is an injectable drug for the management of type 2 diabetes. Victoza has been shown to help type 2 diabetic patients lose weight. It also mimics the GLP-1 hormone, making you feel full, stopping weight gain. Victoza isn’t approved as a treatment for weight loss.


Trulicity is a once-weekly injection that improves blood sugar levels in adults and children aged over 10 with type 2 diabetes. It has also been shown to help with weight loss. It contains the active ingredient dulaglutide which lowers blood glucose and prevents heart disease. Because it is not approved for weight loss, Saxenda and Wegovy (when it is available) may be more suitable choices.

Weight loss tablets

Weight loss tablets are available to help you lose weight. Some require a prescription while others are available over the counter. Superdrug Online Doctor currently has 4 weight loss tablets available: orlistat, Xenical, Alli, and Mysimba.


Xenical is a prescription only weight loss pill that’s generally prescribed to people who are obese or overweight and have certain medical conditions like type 2 diabetes. Xenical works by blocking the absorption of fat from meals by attaching to the enzyme lipase, which is responsible for breaking down fat in the body. Xenical works best when you also exercise regularly and follow a diet plan. It contains the active ingredient orlistat 120mg.


Alli is an over-the-counter weight loss treatment available in capsule form. It contains the active ingredient orlistat 60mg, and works by attaching itself to the naturally occurring enzymes that break down fat. This stops fat from being absorbed, preventing weight gain, and is passed out of the body as waste in your stools.


Orlistat is the generic name for Xenical. It works in exactly the same way but is often cheaper because it is not a branded medication.


Mysimba is a prescription weight loss tablet that works by suppressing your appetite. Other weight loss tablets work by stopping the absorption of fat. Instead, Mysimba targets the area of the brain that controls appetite, making you feel less hungry and reducing the amount of food you eat. On average, people who take Mysimba lose between 3.7-5.7% of their body weight.


Patient Reviews