Here are the most common side effects of Ozempic explained, what to do about them and how to reduce the chances of them happening to you…
All medicines have the potential to cause side effects which is why GPs carefully weigh up the risks and benefits before writing any prescription for any medication. Next, they should take time to discuss with you the expected benefits of using a medicine versus the potentially unwanted effects of using it so together you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
What are side effects?
Also known as adverse drug reactions (ADR), medication side effects are unwanted or unexpected effects caused by taking a medication.1 All medications – including prescription, over-the-counter and natural/herbal medications – have the potential to cause side effects.1
Side effects can vary from mild to severe and can be temporary or long-term.1 Not all people will experience all, or even any, side effects from using a medication but it’s worth being informed before you take the first dose. 1-2
Why do medicine side effects happen?
Because side effects are often the unwanted effects associated with taking a particular medicine, they’re typically linked to how the medicine works, which is known as its mechanism of action (MOA).1 Because Ozempic works in the digestive system, many of its potential side effects occur there.2-5
What are the most common side effects of Ozempic?
- Stomach pain;
- Injection site reactions (redness, swelling, pain).2-6
If at any stage of using Ozempic you are concerned about side effects, talk to your GP and pharmacist.
What are the less common side effects of Ozempic?
Serious side effects of Ozempic are rare but can be serious.2-6 It is important to be aware of these side effects so you can stop using Ozempic and contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of them:
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas);
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar);
- Kidney problems;
- Allergic reactions;
- Gallbladder problems.2-6
Where can I find information about Ozempic side effects?
Talking to your GP, credentialled diabetes educator and pharmacist is a great start. All medicines in Australia have a Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) brochure which you can also find online for detailed information.2 Additionally, you can access the manufacturer of Ozempic’s brand information at the Novo Nordisk website.3
Who should I tell about Ozempic side effects?
You can talk about side effects with your doctor and pharmacist as well as reporting them directly to the TGA which monitors the safety of all medicines in Australia.7
Who is most likely to experience medicines side effects?
Some factors that can increase your risk of experiencing medication side effects include advanced age, certain underlying medical conditions and current state of health, other medications you are taking, diet and lifestyle. 1
Before starting any medicine, it’s important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the potential side effects of any medication you are taking in relation to your particular circumstances. They can help you to assess your risk and develop a plan to manage any side effects that you may experience.1
How can medication side effects be managed?
- Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor;
- Be aware of the potential side effects of all of your medications;
- Tell your doctor about any and all other medications, supplements, or herbal remedies you are taking;
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco while taking medications;
- Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise;
- Report any side effects to your doctor right away;
- If you experience any serious side effects, stop taking the medication and seek medical attention immediately.1
What else do I need to know about taking Ozempic and the possibility of side effects?
Firstly, remember that Ozempic can interact with other medications you are taking, including insulin and other diabetes medications.1-2 That’s why it’s so important to tell your doctor about all of the medications you are taking before starting Ozempic.
Ozempic can cause low blood sugar, especially when used with other diabetes medications.2-4 If you are on Ozempic for type 2 diabetes, follow your GP’s advice to monitor your blood sugar levels closely and discuss whether adjustments to your other diabetes medications are needed.
Be aware of precautions around the use of Ozempic which are that it’s not appropriate for use in pregnant or breastfeeding women.3-4 Also, Ozempic is not recommended for use in people with a history of pancreatitis, gall bladder disease or severe gastrointestinal disease.4
If you have any questions or concerns about the risks and benefits of Ozempic, talk to your doctor, credentialled diabetes educator and pharmacist.
1. Barsky AJ, Saintfort R, Rogers MP, Borus JF. Nonspecific medication side effects and the nocebo phenomenon. JAMA. 2002;287(5):622–627. Accessed November 13, 2023. doi:10.1001/jama.287.5.622
2. Ozempic Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) summary. Accessed November 13, 2023. https://www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent&id=CP-2020-CMI-01750-1&d=20231114172310101
3. Novo Nordisk. Ozempic. [nd]. Accessed November 13, 2023. https://www.ozempic.com
4. Semaglutide. Australian Medicines Handbook. July, 2022. Accessed November 14, 2023. https://amhonline-amh-net-au.eu1.proxy.openathens.net/chapters/endocrine-drugs/drugs-diabetes/glucagon-like-peptide-1-analogues/semaglutide#semaglutide-dosage
5. Suran M. As Ozempic’s popularity soars, here’s what to know about semaglutide and weight loss. JAMA. 2023;329(19):1627–1629. Accessed November 13, 2023. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.2438
6. Jeong D, Priefer R. Anti-obesity weight loss medications: Short-term and long-term use.
Life Sciences. 2022: 306. doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2022.120825.
7. Therapeutic Goods Administration. Report an adverse event or problem (consumers). [nd]. Accessed November 13, 2023. https://www.tga.gov.au/safety/reporting-problems/report-adverse-event-or-problem-consumers