Ozempic for Weight Loss in Canada

Spending on Ozempic in Canada increased from 13.5 million in 2019 to 227 million in 2021, according to a study by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH).

The study also showed that 36 percent to 74 percent of non-public drug plan claims for Ozempic for weight loss in Canada were from people who likely didn’t have Type 2 Diabetes. These individuals are likely using it for weight loss purposes.

Interestingly enough, the company that manufactures Ozempic, Novo Nordisk, also created Wegovy, which is meant for weight loss (the same medication with a different dose). But due to high demands in the United States, they have had shortages of this medication.

If you are struggling with weight gain and are looking to learn more about Ozempic Canada, then you are in the right place. Keep reading to find out more about what is Ozempic and how to use it for your weight loss goals.

What Is Ozempic?

Both Ozempic and Wegovy are brand names of Semaglutide. This is a long-acting GLP-1 reception agonist, which can get administered subcutaneously once weekly.

It has been shown effective in weight loss in trials involving patients with or without Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, Ozempic was actually developed to treat Type 2 Diabetes, as it helps lower blood glucose levels.

But it ended up having a side benefit of weight loss which was then perpetuated as folks without Type 2 Diabetes started ordering Ozempic to help lose weight.

Keep in mind that only the injectable form, Wegovy, is approved for the treatment of obesity (not the oral version).

Semglutide has also been shown to reduce cardiovascular (CV) risk factors in patients with established CV disorders in some CV outcome trials.

How Does Ozempic Work for Weight Loss?

Once considered overweight or obese, the treatment goes as follows: Ozempic injections at the maximum dose (2.4 mg weekly) help achieve maximum weight loss.

But patients shouldn’t start with the maximum dose right away, as some can’t tolerate the dose and might have side effects, like nausea, or vomiting. That’s why a gradual increase in the dose is recommended.

How Semaglutide (Ozempic and Wegovy) works for weight loss is quite interesting. GLP-1 is a major incretin hormone in humans. That is, it increases insulin section, inhibits glucagon release, and suppresses hepatic gluconeogenesis.

Semaglutide also causes delayed gastric emptying, reduced appetite, and energy intake, which is why it has beneficial effects on weight loss. It reduces the rate at which your stomach empties food after a meal (gastric emptying). The longer time it takes for gastric emptying, the more time food stays in your stomach, making you feel fuller longer.

This results in reduced hunger, and appetite. Overall, patients on Ozempic or Wegovy end up eating less food and thus losing weight.

Not only does Ozempic affect gastric emptying, but it also affects GLP-1 receptors found in the hypothalamus which are responsible for regulating food intake in the nervous system. This reduces feelings of hunger and appetite in obese individuals.

Furthermore, GLP-1 also affects those receptors responsible for satiety in the brain. It stimulates these specific neurons thus increasing satiety in patients who were administered Ozempic. Now that you know what is Ozempic used for, let’s look further into dosage and other intake instructions.

Where Do I Inject Ozempic?

A study showed that taking Ozempic in a fasting state has the most optimal effect on achieving therapeutic concentration. Fasting for another half an hour after the dose intake is beneficial.

Additionally, Ozempic must get administered under the skin, in the subcutaneous or fatty layer, on your lower abdomen (near the waist), front of the thighs, or upper arm. Do not inject Ozempic into a muscle or vein.

Make sure to rotate (change) your injection site with each injection. Do not use the same injection site with each injection, or if you do choose the same site, do not use the same location each time.

Dose titration is necessary with Ozempic. That is, patients should start therapy with 0.25 mg, then raise it to 0.5 mg, and then to 1 mg, keeping 4 weeks interval. Ozempic pen (red and blue) is available in a strength of 1.34 mg/ml.

The red pen delivers a 0.25 mg initiation dose and 0.5 mg for maintenance purposes. On the other hand, the blue pen is meant for 1.0 mg (maximum maintenance dose) of Semaglutide.

Which Foods Should I Avoid While on Ozempic?

When patients first start taking Ozempic, some side effects like diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting can ensue. But these may disappear over time as the patient gets used to the medication.

To help the body adjust to the medication and dosing, avoiding fried foods and fatty foods, such as fast food, and foods high in sugar is recommended. Ozempic and fatty foods are not friends – they can exacerbate the side effects.

Also, patients who experience nausea or other side effects should consider the following tips:

  • Eat slowly
  • Eat smaller meals
  • Eat foods that contain water like soups
  • Don’t lie down after you eat
  • Bland light foods get more easily digested
  • Drink ice-cold or clear drinks
  • Avoid fried, greasy, sweet foods
  • Go outdoors for fresh air after eating if you feel nauseous

As time passes by, the patient will become used to the medication dosage and the side effects should gradually dissipate (usually after 2 weeks of treatment initiation). Even so, keep in mind the need to avoid greasy, fried, and heavy foods.

What Are the Side Effects of Ozempic?

These are the gastrointestinal adverse effects of Ozempic:

  • Indigestion
  • Inflamed stomach (gastritis) – stomach ache, nausea, vomiting
  • Reflux or heartburn (GERD)
  • Gall stones
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating of the stomach
  • Intermittent constipation
  • Burping
  • Gas (flatulence)
  • Increase of pancreatic enzymes (such as lipase and amylase)

Newer studies are indicating that the side effects of Ozempic may be more common than we realize. When compared to another popular weight loss medication, Contrave, patients on Ozempic were shown to have a:

  • 9.09 times higher risk of pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, which can cause severe abdominal pain and, in some cases, require hospitalization and surgery.
  • 4.22 times higher risk of bowel obstruction, whereby food is prevented from passing through the small or large intestine, resulting in symptoms like cramping, bloating, nausea and vomiting. Depending on the severity, surgery may be required.
  • 3.67 times higher risk of gastroparesis, or stomach paralysis, which limits the passage of food from the stomach to the small intestine and results in symptoms like vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain.

There are some other infrequent side effects to be aware of including:

  • Nasopharyngitis
  • Headache
  • Increased pancreatic enzyme (amylase and lipase) levels
  • Infections in the urinary tract and upper respiratory tract

Also, patients with some other medical conditions should avoid taking Semaglutide medication.

Anyone who is pregnant or who thinks they might be pregnant should avoid taking Semaglutide medication.

Additionally, anyone with a personal history of pancreatitis, a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), or multiple endocrine neoplasias should avoid using Ozempic.

If patients have diabetic retinopathy, they should get monitored for complications.

All in all, if you are considering taking Ozempic or Wegovy and have any other chronic condition, speak to a medical professional before starting treatment.

Does Ozempic Need To Be Refrigerated?

Yes, Ozempic needs to be refrigerated. Store your new, unused Ozempic pens in the refrigerator between 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F) until the expiration date.

After use, store your pen for 56 days at room temperature between 15ºC to 30ºC (59ºF to 86ºF). Or you can keep it in a refrigerator between 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F).

Do not freeze Ozempic and do not use it if it freezes. Also, keep it away from the heat and out of the light. Do not store Ozempic near the cooling element in your refrigerator.

Do not share your Ozempic pen with anyone and use a new needle every time you inject.

How Do I Know When My Ozempic Pen Is Empty?

Depending on what dosage your Ozempic pen is, it can deliver either 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, or 1 mg per injection. It depends on your doctor’s prescription, and what dose you are using.

But each of these pens is meant to last for a month, that is, for 4 weeks, if you take a dose each week (taken on the same day every week, if possible) at any time of day.

Before your first injection with each new pen, you need to check the flow. Turn the dose selector until the dose counter shows the correct dosage – this may be 0.25mg, 0.5mg, or 1mg. Hold the pen with the needle pointing up.

Turn the dose selector to your prescribed dose – do not count the pen clicks. The dose counter must line up precisely with the dose pointer to ensure that you get the correct dose.

If you see that there is less than your prescribed dose in your pen dose counter, then discard the pen and use a new Ozempic pen. Also, if the liquid looks cloudy instead of clear, discard it and use a new pen.

Make sure to discard the Ozempic pen with care since it is hazardous waste and has a sharp object (needle) on it.

What Should I Do if I Missed a Dose of Ozempic?

If you missed a dose of Ozempic, it’s important to take it as soon as you realized that you missed it (within 5 days of the last dose).

If more than 5 days have passed since your last dose, then skip the missed dose and then take your next dose on the scheduled day as regular.

If you’ve missed more than 2 weeks, speak with your doctor before restarting.

Remember that if you ever decide to stop taking Ozempic, you need to speak to your doctor first, since it affects your blood sugar levels and you shouldn’t just stop taking it abruptly.

Also, Ozempic has not received approval for children or adolescents under the age of 18.

Ozempic and Alcohol

Keep in mind that Ozempic lowers your blood sugar levels. And if you have alcohol while on Ozempic, that could lower your blood sugar levels even further and/or cause hypoglycemia. Additionally, excessive drinking while on Ozempic also increases the risk of pancreatitis.

It’s highly recommended to avoid drinking alcohol excessively while on Ozempic medication. But an occasional drink should be alright if your blood sugar levels are under control.

Limit your daily alcohol consumption to two drinks (if you’re a man) or one drink (if you’re a woman).

How Much Does Ozempic Cost in Canada?

If you purchase Ozempic from an online Canadian pharmacy, the cost can be as low as $300 per pen. It can be as high as $950 at some US pharmacies. That’s why many US citizens order Ozempic and other medications from Canadian online pharmacies.

Remember that if you are Canadian and have diabetes or if you can get a doctor’s note for the medication, you could be covered by the provincial health insurance plan for this purchase.

Is Ozempic Covered in BC and Other Provinces?

Ozempic is covered by British Columbia PharmCare and by Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), but only with your doctors approval and in cases where you have treatment resistant diabetes. It is not covered for weight loss yet. Similar coverage rules apply to Ozempic by all public formularies across Canada.

The B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix even claimed that Ozempic is a “very good drug” that’s been approved and covered for Type 2 diabetes based on evidence from a “rigorous and independent process.”

The only problem is that a lot of folks who need Ozempic for diabetes aren’t able to access it because the medication is being claimed by folks who are using it for weight loss. The ministry said that they are monitoring the situation to ensure folks who need it for diabetes can access the medication without issues.

Lots of influencers on TikTok and other social media channels have been recommending Ozempic as a weight loss aid and because of this demand for the medication has gone up.

What Happens If I Stop Ozempic?

Unfortunately, most people who stop Ozempic may go on to put the lost weight back on. A recent study showed that one year after withdrawal of once-weekly subcutaneous semaglutide 2.4 mg and lifestyle intervention, participants regained two-thirds of their prior weight loss, with similar changes in cardiometabolic variables. This is why it is important to have a more comprehensive and holistic weight loss plan that goes beyond Ozempic alone.

Ozempic Canada – Is It Right for You?

Speak to your medical professional about using Ozempic Canada for weight loss if you think it’s right for you. Make sure to read through all the side effects and other medication information laid out in the article above.

Whenever there is a new drug that is on the market that shows promise, there’s always a lot of hype about it. That’s why it’s important to stay neutral in the face of all this media attention and keep your wits about you, as you decide whether to choose Ozempic for weight loss in Canada or not.

If you need additional help making this important decision, connect with Canadian licensed doctors from the comfort of your home using virtual care.

Speak With a Virtual Doctor about Ozempic

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