Person with diabetes checking blood sugar while wondering about Ozempic® for type 2 diabetes

Ozempic® for Type 2 Diabetes: What You Need to Know

Written on June 26, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Diabetes has had a long history, starting from when it was initially recognized by ancient Egyptians around 1500 BCE.[1] The Greek physician Aretaeus used the term "diabetes mellitus" to describe the sweet taste of urine from people with the disease. It was not until 1812 that diabetes was considered a clinical condition. Since this time, there have been numerous advances in the understanding of diabetes, including prevention strategies and treatment approaches. A recent therapy that has significantly changed outcomes for type 2 diabetic patients is Ozempic®.[2]

More About Diabetes

Diabetes impacts millions of people; approximately 37 million people in the United States, or 11.3% of the population, had diabetes as of 2019.[3] Diabetes is a chronic disease that causes the blood glucose in the body to be elevated. The most common type of diabetes is type 2. Type 2 diabetes accounts for around 90% to 95% of all diabetes cases. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas no longer produces enough insulin to regulate the glucose in the blood, and the cells cannot adequately use the insulin. The disease increases the risk of damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart.

What is Ozempic®?

Ozempic® is a medication used for type 2 diabetes.[2] It was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 to improve glycemic control adult patients with type 2 diabetes.[2] The generic name for Ozempic® is semaglutide.[2,4] In addition to Ozempic®, two more FDA-approved semaglutide products are currently marketed in the United States.[4] Rybelsus® is a tablet form of semaglutide, also approved to decrease glucose levels in adults with type 2 diabetes in combination with diet and exercise. Wegovy® is a higher-dose injection of semaglutide that has been approved for adults and children 12 years and older. Ozempic®, Rybelsus®, and Wegovy® are all currently only available through a valid prescription.[4]

Dosing and Administration of Ozempic®

The starting dose for Ozempic® is 0.25 milligrams once weekly, and after four weeks, the dose is increased to 0.5 milligrams once weekly.[2] If additional glucose control is needed, the dose can be increased to 1 milligram a week. After this dose increase, if even more glycemic control is required, the dose can be increased to 2 milligrams once weekly. Ozempic® is administered as a subcutaneous injection in the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. Each dose is administered once a week at any time of the day, with or without meals. If a dose is missed, administer the dose within five days of the missed dose.

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How Ozempic® Works for Type 2 Diabetes

Ozempic® belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists.[2] Ozempic® works similarly to naturally occurring GLP-1 hormones by selectively binding to and activating the GLP-1 receptor to lower blood glucose concentration. Once the GLP-1 receptor is activated, it stimulates insulin secretion and lowers glucagon secretion. Glucagon is a hormone that increases the glucose levels in the blood.[5] Ozempic® also delays gastric emptying right after eating a meal to make you feel full faster and decrease your appetite.[2]

Safety Concerns with Ozempic®

Ozempic® has a serious safety, or black box warning, for the risk of thyroid c-cell tumors.[2] In animal models, Ozempic® causes thyroid c-cell tumors, but it has not been determined if Ozempic® causes thyroid c-cell tumors in humans. Therefore, Ozempic® is contraindicated if there is a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. Additionally, Ozempic® is contraindicated in patients with serious hypersensitivity reactions to the drug or any of its excipients.

Warnings and precautions with Ozempic® include pancreatitis, diabetic retinopathy, hypoglycemia, acute kidney injury, acute gallbladder disease, and hypersensitivity reactions.[2] Ozempic® pens should never be shared between patients, even if the needle is changed. The most common adverse reactions reported in 5% or more of patients treated with Ozempic® are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation.

Next Steps via Everlywell

If you have questions about your type 2 diabetes or are wondering if Ozempic® is appropriate for you, schedule an online weight loss visit with a healthcare provider via Everlywell. You will be able to speak with a licensed clinician to address your health needs with high-quality care, prescriptions, and recommendations.

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Type 2 Diabetes Medication for Weight Loss: Key Points to Know


  1. Polonsky KS. The past 200 years in diabetes. N Engl J Med. 2012;367(14):1332-40. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1110560
  2. DailyMed - OZEMPIC®- semaglutide injection, solution. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  3. What is diabetes? - niddk. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  4. Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Medications containing semaglutide. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  5. Glucagon: What it is, Function & Symptoms. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed June 15, 2023.
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