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Semaglutide Injections

Semaglutide is a prescription medication used to treat and manage Type 2 Diabetes. Its active ingredient is Semaglutide, which works by reducing the patient’s blood sugar levels when they become too high. Semaglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist, meaning that it can stimulate insulin release after eating, inhibit the release of glucagon and slow glucose absorption into the bloodstream. It can be used alone or with other medicines which treat Diabetes to keep the condition under control and avoid complications. In controlled studies, Semaglutide has been shown to be effective and acceptable for use by patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Some evidence suggests that Semaglutide may also help obese patients with weight loss, leaving the patient feeling more satisfied after eating. Recent findings show that patients using Semaglutide experienced a greater weight loss than those using the popular weight loss aid Saxenda (Liraglutide). This suggests that Semaglutide may be a more potent drug and possibly better suited to those with a higher BMI or who may be classed as morbidly obese. However, it’s important to note that this medication is still undergoing medical trials and has not been approved as a form of weight loss medication as of yet.

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Dr. Diana Gall GMC No. 7685129

Dr Diana Gall studied medicine at the University of Transilvania graduating in 2005, since then she has finished a 3 year intensive training course in family medicine practice. In 2010 she reached the consultant level in general practice, working in Romania and in the UK. Her past experience relates to aesthetic field, occupational health and general practice.

Shamir Patel GPHC No. 2049338

Shamir is our Superintendent Pharmacist here at Doctor 4 U. Shamir is a well-respected pharmacist with extensive experience running independent high street pharmacies across the north west of England.

What is Semaglutide?

We prescribe Semaglutide injections to patients who suffer from Type 2 Diabetes to help them treat and manage their condition. Semaglutide has been FDA approved and has been shown to be effective when used in conjunction with diet and exercise to improve glycemic control in those with Type 2 Diabetes. A side effect of Semaglutide appears to be weight loss, with many of our patients experiencing reduced appetite and a significant reduction in baseline weight since starting their treatment. Semaglutide’s effectiveness as a weight loss drug is still being tested, however we expect to see it being released as a new form of weight loss medication within the next 5 years.

Who is Semaglutide for?

At the moment, Semaglutide is only licenced for use in patients with Type 2 Diabetes who haven’t been able to manage their blood glucose levels with diet and exercise alone. The first choice of medicine to treat Diabetes would usually be Metformin, however some people are unable to take this. If oral Antidiabetics or Insulin are not enough to control your condition, then Semaglutide (Ozempic) is suitable, as it can be in conjunction with other treatments. It’s important to be aware that Semaglutide isn’t currently licenced for weight loss, although it's likely to be in the near future. This medication could be prescribed off-label, however only in cases where a doctor thinks you would be a suitable candidate. This is up to the discretion of each individual doctor. Currently, the Semaglutide patient information leaflet states that if you have any of the following conditions, you should either avoid the medication or speak to your own GP before using the weekly injection:

  • Allergic to any of the ingredients in the semaglutide injection
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Kidney problems
  • Dehydration
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Diabetic eye disease
  • Pregnant
  • Breast feeding

In addition to these, you should also speak to your GP if you’re using any other medicines which can be used to treat diabetes such as Metformin or Insulin, and if you’re using blood thinners such as Warfarin.

What is the Difference Between Semaglutide and Ozempic?

Semaglutide is a pharmaceutical drug developed by the Danish company Novo Nordisk. It is used to treat and help manage Type 2 Diabetes by improving the body’s ability to lower blood sugar. Chemically, Semaglutide is similar to the naturally occurring hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) which has the ability to decrease blood sugar levels in a glucose-dependent manner by enhancing the secretion of insulin. This medication is primarily prescribed to sufferers of Type 2 Diabetes when the use of Metformin is unsuitable. Ozempic is simply the trade or brand name for the Type 2 Diabetes drug Semaglutide. There are no significant differences between Ozempic and Semaglutide (other than their names), as they are essentially the same drug. Both Ozempic and Semaglutide contain the same active ingredient, Semaglutide, which is a GLP-1 receptor agonist. This medication (under the name of both Semaglutide and Ozempic) has been proven to be an effective treatment for Type 2 Diabetes and has also recently been shown to be an effective weight loss treatment for people with high BMIs. However, trials are still being carried out on the drug, meaning it has not yet been approved as a form of weight loss medication.

How does Semaglutide Help with Weight Loss?

Whilst the drug has been manufactured for Diabetes, the active ingredient (Semaglutide) appears to suppress patients’ appetites and help them to feel more satisfied after a meal. This means that those using Semaglutide are more likely to consume fewer calories as they feel more satisfied after a meal and are therefore less likely to snack as much between meals. This reduction in appetite may also contribute to patients eating smaller portions than what they’re used to. As a result, those using Semaglutide are more likely to consume fewer calories than they usually would (before taking the medication). This tends to result in patients beginning to lose weight rather than maintaining their current weight when they start taking Semaglutide.

How Effective is Semaglutide for Weight Loss?

957 participants with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or more took part in a clinical trial to test the efficacy of Semaglutide as weight loss drug. Eligible participants were adults over the age of 18 years, who did not have diabetes. The results found that in 37-65% of participants receiving Semaglutide injections, their weight was reduced by an estimated loss of 10% or more. However, in those taking the placebo, only 10% of participants had an estimated weight loss of 10% or more. This study therefore concluded that Semaglutide (at all doses) results in clinically relevant weight loss compared to that of the placebo.

Can I use Semaglutide for Weight Loss Now??

Semaglutide is not currently licenced for weight loss. It is only currently recommended for use by people with Type 2 Diabetes. However, the drug is likely to be approved as a weight loss drug in the near future, and tends to be well-tolerated by people who do not have Type 2 Diabetes, with no new safety concerns arising in recent trials. It has been known for this medication to be prescribed off-label, however only in cases where the doctor believes that the patient is a suitable candidate for the drug and no contradiction are present. This decision is entirely up to the discretion of each individual doctor.

When Will Semaglutide be Approved for Weight Loss in the UK?

Semaglutide is already available to be prescribed in the UK.

How is Semaglutide Taken?

Ozempic is to be taken in the form of an injection. Your doctor or nurse will show you how to use it correctly if this is your first time using the medication.

Before you use your semaglutide injection for the first time, you should make sure that it contains the right drug, pull the cap off the pen and check that the liquid inside is clear (you should be able to see through a transparent window on the pen). Only use it if it’s clear and colourless.

Next you should take a new needle out of the box and remove the paper tab from underneath it. This is to make sure that the needle stays sterile, so if the paper tab is broken, it isn’t safe to use. In this instance, you should contact a pharmacy. You then need to push this needle onto the end of the pen nearest the transparent window, and pull the plastic top off the needle, but don’t throw it away – you’ll need it later.

Next, you can take off the inner needle cap and throw it away, you won’t need it again. You might notice a drop at the end of the needle which is normal, but it’s still important to check the flow of the pen.You can do this by turning the dose selector to the flow check symbol.

Hold the pen with the needle pointing towards the ceiling and press and hold the dosage button at the bottom of the ben until the dose counter returns back to the 0 default, and you should see a drop at the end of the needle. If there isn’t a drop, repeat this step, and if nothing happens on the second flow check, you should dispose of the pen at a local pharmacy and request a new one. Next, you need to select the dosage that you’ll be using, so using 0.5mg as an example, you should turn the dose counter until it stops and shows 0.5mg in the window. Always check that you’re injecting the correct dose and don’t count the pen clicks. The injection is ready to use when the indicator lines up exactly with the dose number.

You’re now ready to inject yourself with semaglutide. You should insert the needle into your skin as you should have been shown by your GP or nurse practitioner, and make sure that you can see the dosage counter. Now, press and hold down the dose button until the dose counter shows 0. This means that the dose has left the pen, but you should keep the needle in your skin for around 6 seconds before removing it, just to make sure that you’re getting the full dose that you need. If you see a stream of liquid coming out of the pen before you remove it, this means that the dose hasn’t been delivered and you should seek medical advice. You can remove the pen after 6 seconds and replace the needle cap that you saved earlier, making sure it’s pushed completely on to the needle. Now, remove the needle by unscrewing the cap and dispose of it in your sharps bin. You must always replace the pen lid to preserve the solution inside it.

Ozempic should be injected once a week preferably in the thighs, abdomen, or upper arm but never in a vein or muscle. The injection goes under the skin. You will usually begin on an initial dose of 0.25mg for four weeks, and depending on how well your blood sugar is being controlled, this may be increased after the initial four week period.

How much does Semaglutide cost

We currently don't know how much Semaglutide will cost as a weight loss injection due to the fact that it isn't yet licenced for this condition,but we'll be updating our pirces as soon as we have this information. 

What are the Side Effects of Semaglutide?

As with any type of medication, it’s important to properly familiarise yourself with the possible side effects associated with the drug you will be taking. The side effects of Semaglutide (Ozempic) are currently listed as:

  • Retinopathy
  • Eye problems
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Low blood sugar (especially if used in conjunction with other anti-diabetic medications)
  • Indigestion
  • Gastritis
  • Acid reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating of the stomach
  • Constipation
  • Burping
  • Gall stones
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced appetite
  • Flatulence
  • Increase of some pancreatic enzymes
  • Altered taste
  • Fast pulse
  • Injection site reactions

Some of the side effects listed above (nausea, vomiting and diarrhea) are most common when first starting Ozempic, and tend to decrease overtime in the majority of patients. If this medication does become licenced for weight loss, it’s likely that these side effects will stay the same, as the make-up of the medication will not change. However, it may be that the dosage instructions vary from those that are used to treat diabetes. If any of these side effects cause you any trouble, become severe or are worrying you in any way, then it’s important to discuss this with your doctor. They will be able to advise you in the best way they can.

Are there people for whom Semaglutide is not suitable?

Yes. If you have any of the following conditions, then you should either discuss this with your doctor or avoid Semaglutide altogether.

  • Allergic to any of the ingredients in the semaglutide injection
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Kidney problems
  • Dehydration
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Diabetic eye disease
  • Pregnant
  • Breast feeding

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Semaglutide?

As many patients with Type 2 Diabetes will be aware, alcohol can affect the body’s blood glucose levels, which is why it’s important to speak with your doctor before drinking alcohol if you currently take Semaglutide. Different amounts of alcohol can affect people in different ways when taken alongside other substances such as Diabetes medication. The use of alcohol (ethanol) in conjunction with Semaglutide may result in Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), both of which could be potentially dangerous. When discussing this with your doctor, it's important to make them aware of any other medications you take, including vitamins and herbal medicines. Do not stop taking any medication without first consulting your doctor.

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