There are numerous treatment options for people with type 2 diabetes, including diet and physical exercise, antidiabetic medications like Metformin pills, insulin therapy, and other subcutaneous injections like Ozempic, Victoza, or Trulicity.
Ozempic (Semaglutide) is a relatively new drug that's widely prescribed in the U.S.A. It comes in injector pens so that it can be self-administered at home by the patients themselves.
But while using an Ozempic pen is pretty simple, subcutaneous injections can be daunting for some people. So, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use an Ozempic pen the right way.
Related article: How to properly store and refrigerate Ozempic in all situations?
What’s an Ozempic Pen?
Ozempic is the brand name of semaglutide, its active ingredient. It’s an FDA-approved injectablemedicine used to treat high blood sugars in adults with type 2 diabetes, along with a nutritionally balanced diet and physical exercise.
Ozempic is an antidiabetic medicine that helps lower blood sugar levels. Like Trulicity or Victoza, it's a GLP-1 agonist drug (glucagon-like peptide-1) that stimulates the body's natural insulin production after one ingests carbohydrate or sugar to lower after-meal glycemia.
Ozempic is usually administered once weekly as a subcutaneous injection. It’s manufactured by Novo Nordisk and available in auto-injector pens.
Semaglutide is also sometimes prescribed as an anti-obesity medication for long-term weight management under the brand names Wegovy and Rybelsus.
Ozempic is not insulin and does not work for people with type 1 diabetes whose pancreas can’t produce insulin. While insulin and Ozempic are both antidiabetic injections, they have different mechanisms of action.
Ozempic injector pen
Ozempic is delivered in injector pens only (also called medication pens). It's a device used for injecting liquid medicine under the skin via subcutaneous injections. This type of injection device is designed to increase the patients' convenience and ease of use compared to traditional vial and syringe injections.
When your doctor prescribes Ozempic, the pharmacy will deliver injector pens. They’re prefilled with Ozempic solution (with different dosing of 0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg, according to your prescription). You will also be given disposable needles that connect to the pen to inject the medicine under your skin.
Ozempic pens each deliver 4 doses of Ozempic. They’re disposable and must be thrown away once empty.
Related article: A step-by-step guide to using an insulin pen.
How to use your Ozempic pen properly?
Your diabetes doctors or nurses have probably shown you how to use an Ozempic pen before sending you back home with your new treatment. But using an Ozempic injector pen for the first time alone at home can be intimidating. So, here’s a step-by-step guide to using your pen properly:
A step-by-step guide to using an Ozempic pen
Before starting, make sure you read the instructions for use and the important safety information paper sheet that’s in the carton box.
Then, prepare all your injection supplies (Ozempic pen, disposable needles, sharps container) on a clean table where you can sit comfortably. Next, wash your hands with soap and gently dry them before taking the following steps:
- Prepare your Ozempic pen
Double-check the label to ensure your pen contains Ozempic (especially if you're treated with a dual therapy combining insulin and Ozempic).
Verify the expiration date labeled on the pen and visually inspect the medicine inside. It should be clear and colorless. If you notice any solid elements like white strings or particles or if the liquid inside looks different than usual, it may have gone bad.
Never use Ozempic that has gone bad. When in doubt, immediately throw the pen away and get a new one from the fridge.
- Connect a needle to the pen
Ozempic pens work with disposable needles that you attach to the pen before every injection.
To attach a new needle to an Ozempic pen, first tear off the needle’s paper tab. Then, screw the needle onto the rubber top of the pen until it's tight. Next, remove the needle's outer cap (the big one) and inner cap (the small one). Keep the outer cap on the side for later to safely remove the needle.
- Prime your Ozempic pen
Priming your pen is a necessary step that you must take before every Ozempic injection. It helps remove air bubbles and ensure the needle isn't blocked, and you're receiving your full dose of Ozempic.
To prime your Ozempic pen, turn the dose selector until the counter shows the flow check symbol (a sharp line with two dots). Then, hold your pen with the needle pointing upward. Next, gently tap the pen with your finger to move air bubbles to the top.
Next, press the injection button all the way in until the dose counter goes back to zero. You must see a drop of Ozempic appearing at the needle tip. If not, prime again.
Related article: Why and how to prime your insulin pen?
- Select your dose of Ozempic
Look at the dose window and make sure it’s set at zero. Then, turn the dose selector until the counter shows the dose of Ozempic your doctor has prescribed (0.25 mg or 0.5 mg for the red pens, 1 mg for the blue pens).
When your Ozempic pen is empty, the dosage knob can’t be turned any further (it’s blocked). Get a new pen from the refrigerator. Always double-check the dose is correct before injecting any medicine.
- Inject your dose of Ozempic
Then, you must inject your dose of Ozempic subcutaneously. Choose your injection site – Ozempic is usually injected under the skin in the abdomen, tight, or upper arm. Avoid injecting near a muscle or a vein. And remember to rotate your injection site at every injection.
Hold the Ozempic pen with the hand your write with in such a way that your thumb is free. Next, insert the needle into your skin at a 90-degree angle in a quick motion. When the fully is fully inserted, press and hold down the dose button with your thumb.
Wait for an additional 6 seconds without moving to ensure the dose is fully administered. Then, check that the dose window is back to zero and pull the needle straight out of your skin.
We recommend reading this article that recaps a few tips for injecting insulin without pain. Of course, the same ones apply to Ozempic injections too!
Related article: 10 tips that work for injecting insulin without pain!
- After the injection
Put the needle's outer cap back on to unscrew the needle from your Ozempic pen safely. Place it in a sharps container.
Always put the pen cap back on. It protects your Ozempic from light and ambient conditions.
- Store your Ozempic pen properly
Make sure to store your Ozempic pen properly until the next injection. Remember that Ozempic is a temperature-sensitive medicine.
After first use, Ozempic can be kept at room temperature (maximum 86°F / 30°C) or placed back into the refrigerator. It must be used within 56 days.
Related article: How to properly store and refrigerate Ozempic in all situations?
How many doses are in an Ozempic pen?
Ozempic dosing is something that must be decided with your doctor. The beginning dose is usually 0.25 mg weekly during the first 4 weeks. Then, it may be increased to 0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg, depending on your needs, lifestyle, and A1C goals.
Independently of your dose and the pen you’re using, Ozempic pens all contain 4 weekly doses. But the amount of medicine in the pen varies. There are three options:
- Ozempic pen 2 mg / 1.5 mL delivers 4 weekly doses of 0.25 mg plus 2 weekly doses of 0.5 mg per injection OR 4 weekly doses of 0.5 mg per injection.
- Ozempic pen 4 mg / 3 mL delivers 4 weekly doses of 1 mg per injection.
- Ozempic pen 8 mg / 3 mL delivers 4 weekly doses of 2 mg per injection.
How many Ozempic pens are in a box?
Each carton contains one prefilled disposable Ozempic pen plus 4 to 6 disposable needles.
How long does an Ozempic pen last?
Each Ozempic pen contains 4 weekly injections of medicine, so an Ozempic pen typically lasts a month if stored in the right conditions (temperature and light).
Related article: How long do insulin vials last, and how many do you need per month?
How much does Ozempic cost?
Here’s the official list price from Novocare, Ozempic’s manufacturer:
- Ozempic 0.25 or 0.5 mg: $892.06 / one pen
- Ozempic 1 mg: $892.06 / one pen
- Ozempic 2 mg: $892.06 / one pen
However, most people don't pay the list price and are entitled to total or partial coverage by their health insurance.
Do you take Ozempic? What are your experiences with this diabetes medication? Please share with us in the comment section below!