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Ozempic has been hitting the headlines as a revolutionary weight loss drug for good reason! But before taking this medication, you first need to consult with a registered weight loss doctor who is knowledgeable in the safe use of Ozempic in Singapore. Ozempic and Wegovy are the brand names for the medication, the drug name is semaglutide. This once-weekly injection is incredibly effective at helping people lose weight. In this guide, I will provide an overview of how it is used and what you can expect when you start using it.
What is Ozempic (Semaglutide) and how does it work?
Ozempic (Semaglutide) is an injectable medication that is given once weekly and belongs to the class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. Rybelsus is the daily oral formulation of Semaglutide. GLP-1 is a naturally occurring hormone that is secreted by your intestines after a meal. It has multiple actions:
- Stimulates insulin secretion depending on your blood sugar levels
- Delays emptying of your stomach
- Reduces appetite
- Reduce glucose production by the liver
- Slow glucose absorption by the intestine
However, naturally occurring GLP-1 only hangs about 15 minutes before it is broken down by the body. This is where drug companies stepped in and made longer-acting versions of GLP-1. You might have heard of Saxenda (liraglutide), this was a GLP-1 that lasted over 24 hours, used to treat weight loss with daily injections. Ozempic (semaglutide) lasts even longer so only requires an injection once every week. Th oral formulation of Semaglutide is called Rybelsus. The weight loss preparation which is not available in Singapore is called Wegovy.
GLP-1 agonists were initially developed as diabetic treatments, and for this, they are very effective. However, it was noted how effective they were for weight loss so they were also studied specifically for weight loss in patients without diabetes. But in order to achieve the best results, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional who has expertise in weight loss and is knowledgeable in the safe use and administration of semaglutide in Singapore.
Is Ozempic safe in patients with heart conditions?
In fact, the latest news looks even better than just safe! Novo Nordisk published in August 2023 that in their new trial called SELECT, Semaglutide lowered the risk of heart attack, stroke and death by 20%! This makes Wegovy the first obesity drug that actually prevents adverse events. This is big news and opens up these drugs to a much wider patient base that could benefit from them.
Are GLP-1 agonists effective for weight loss?
These medications have been studied in large clinical trials and have been shown to help weight loss when compared to placebo.
- Ozempic (Semaglutide) – average weight loss was 14.9% of body weight with semaglutide versus 2.4% with placebo over a 68 week treatment period.
- Saxenda (Liraglutide) – average weight loss was 8.4% with liraglutide versus 2.8% with placebo over 56 weeks
- Rybelsus (semaglutide) – weight loss equivalent to 1mg of Ozempic.
- Wegovy (semaglutide) Not available currently in Singapore– .
It is important to note they are not “wonder drugs”, and if you don’t try and eat a restricted and healthy diet then you will struggle to lose weight. In both these studies the medication was given alongside a diet and exercise program with behavioural modification.
When is Ozempic (Semaglutide) Used?
Ozempic is used in 2 main groups of patients
- Diabetes type 2 – Ozempic (Semaglutide) is used in adults with type 2 diabetes who are not able to achieve their target blood sugar level using other medications. Ozempic is often used with the goal of improving control of blood sugar and reducing the risk of any complications associated with high sugar levels including nerve damage, kidney damage, and heart disease.
- Weight loss – Semaglutide can be used in people with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 or those with a BMI > 27 if they also have an obesity-related condition like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
How to Take Ozempic (Semaglutide)?
Ozempic is typically taken once per week as a subcutaneous injection, and here are the general instruction for taking it:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Look for a clean, dry area on your upper leg, stomach, or upper arm where you can inject the medication into some fat just under the skin.
- Remove the cap of the pen and check the solution in it for any discoloration or particles.
- Attach a new needle.
- Dial in the dose you have been prescribed.
- Pinch a fold of your skin where you want to inject the solution and hold the pen at a 90-degree angle to your skin.
- Press the plunger down to inject the medication.
- When the dose counter reaches zero, slowly count to 6 then pull out the skin.
- Dispose of the needle.
Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider who is knowledgeable with Ozempic in Singapore if you have any questions or concerns about using Ozempic (Semaglutide).
Potential Side Effects of Ozempic (Semaglutide)
Just like other medications, Ozempic (Semaglutide) can cause side effects. Many of the side effects Are caused because it slows stomach emptying and affects your gut. Here’s a list of the most common ones that users experience.
- Decreased appetite – this is a good thing!
- Abdominal pain
Other rarer side effects that you might experience include:
- Allergic reactions
It is very rare for serious side effects to occur. It is important to tell your healthcare provider who is an expert in Ozempic in Singapore if you experience any side effects as they can help you manage it and see whether it’s time to stop taking Ozempic.
How to Manage Side Effects of Ozempic (Semaglutide)
If you’re experiencing any side effects while taking Ozempic (semaglutide), here are several steps that you can do to manage them:
- Eat low-fat bland foods – this will help control nausea
- Eat soup-like foods with water – these are more easily digested
- Avoid fried food
- Don’t eat after 7 pm – food tends to stay in the stomach longer so eating earlier in the evening allows it to be digested before you go to bed.
- Try some omeprazole if you develop reflux – speak to your physician.
- Avoid alcohol – Alcohol can worsen nausea. Interestingly people who take Ozempic report that they tend to want to drink less anyway.
- Practice good self-care – Get plenty of sleep and also make sure you are exercising.
If you can’t manage the side effects, be sure to speak with your doctor or any other healthcare professional who has expertise in the safe use of Ozempic in Singapore. They will be able to identify the causes and recommend adjusting your dosage or offering a different option for the treatment depending on the brand of semaglutide in Singapore that you are using.
Does Ozempic cause serious side effects like cancer?
Overall Ozempic is incredibly safe. However, there are some warnings.
- Cancer – In some animals, this drug has been shown to cause thyroid cancer. This has never been shown in human studies. Do not use this drug if you or a family member has had medullary thyroid carcinoma or if you have multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2.
- Low blood sugar – Ozempic can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) especially when you take it with other medications that are meant to lower blood sugar levels.
- Pancreatitis – Ozempic can be associated with pancreatitis. Stop using it if you get severe abdominal pain and consult your doctor.
- Gallbladder issues – these have been noted in some people taking Ozempic. Consult your doctor if you have abdominal pain, or notice a yellow colour of skin/eyes or grey stools.
Talk with a weight loss doctor to learn more about the safe use of Ozempic in Singapore. They can guide you through the process of administering the drug on yourself along with recommendations about diet and lifestyle changes while using Ozempic or any other brand of semaglutide in Singapore.
How to Store Ozempic (Semaglutide) What to do with Ozempic if you take a flight
Storing Ozempic (semaglutide) properly is important to ensure its effectiveness and safety. Here are some general guidelines for storing this kind of medication:
- Prior to first use – refrigerate
- After first use, it can be stored at room temperature for up to 8 weeks.
If you need to take a flight and would need to bring unused Ozempic pens with you they will need to be refrigerated during the flight. Ask your doctor to provide you with a memo to give to security and the airline crew. They will then store it in the fridge on the plane for you. Make sure they are transported in a cool bag. The other option is to put them in checked baggage in a cool bag however, what happens if they lose your luggage?!
Is Ozempic available in oral/tablet form?
The drug semaglutide is also available in tablet form. It is called Rybelsus. It needs to be taken every day on an empty stomach. It is licensed for diabetes treatment but does also help people lose weight. Consult with a registered obesity physician to learn more and be guided about the safe use of Ozempic in Singapore.
What is the dose of Ozempic?
When starting Ozempic it is usual practice to start with a low dose and gradually increase it over time. This reduces the impact of side effects. The standard dosing regimen is 0.25mg for 4 weeks, then 0.5mg for 4 weeks, then 1mg for 4 weeks, then 2mg for 4 weeks.
The maximum dose is 2.4mg but most patients do not require this. In addition, this dosing regimen can often be accelerated to get patients to higher doses quicker. The weight loss is dose responsive, so there is more weight loss with higher doses. Talk with a healthcare professional if you are planning to take a different brand of semaglutide in Singapore.
Interactions with Other Medications and Substances for Ozempic (Semaglutide)
Ozempic can have interaction with other substances and medications and this can potentially affect the way it works or even increase the risk of side effects. It’s important to tell your doctor about any medication or supplement that you are taking before Ozempic treatment starts.
- Other blood sugar-lowering medications like insulin, glinides, or sulfonylureas. Having Ozempic treatment while taking these medications may increase your risk of having low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
The interaction may vary depending on the brand of semaglutide in Singapore that you are using. It is always a good idea to consult with a registered obesity physician to ensure the safe administration of this drug depending on your current physical condition.
Finding the Right Specialist for Ozempic (Semaglutide) Treatment in Singapore
If you’re thinking about Ozempic treatment, consider booking a consultation with Dr Michael MacDonald. He is a cardiologist and a registered obesity physician who has helped hundreds of patients lose weight and manage their weight-related medical problems. He can help you with your concerns about semaglutide in Singapore.
Common Questions and Concerns about Ozempic (Semaglutide)
Below are other common questions and concerns that people ask about Ozempic (semaglutide)
Q. Is Ozempic safe?
A. Ozempic has gone through extensive studies and clinical trials and it has been found to be generally safe when used as prescribed. It may produce certain side effects which is why it is important to discuss potential risks and benefits with an expert before starting with the treatment.
Q. Can Ozempic cause weight gain?
A. Ozempic causes weight loss.
Q. Can Ozempic cause low blood sugar?
A. Yes! It can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in some instances especially when it is taken along with other medications that lower blood sugar levels.
Q. What weight do I have to be to qualify for Ozempic?
A. Body mass index ≥ 30 OR BMI ≥ 27 with high cholesterol or blood pressure or other weight-related problem.
If you need help with Ozempic or any other brand of semaglutide in Singapore or have some questions and concerns about this drug, consider giving us a call at +65 6235 5300 or send us an email to get in touch with our recommended weight loss expert.
Written by: Dr Michael MacDonald MB ChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP (UK), MD (Research), FESC (Europe). Dr MacDonald was trained in the UK and is a senior Consultant Cardiologist. Updated 20 August 2023