GLP-1 Treatment Plan: Ozempic

Be sure to take your time and read everything below. It is essential for you to understand the potential risks and benefits of treatment. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our medical support team if you have ANY questions.

Quick Facts

What is a GLP-1? 
  • GLP-1 (short for “glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists”) are prescription medications that work by mimicking the functions of a naturally occurring hormone in your body to slow down how fast your stomach empties after you eat and act on your brain to make you less hungry. These medications are meant to be used in combination with a reduced calorie diet and regular physical activity.

Who should not use a GLP-1?
  • Patients with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2) should not take GLP-1s.  Additionally anyone that has had a previous serious reaction to the medication should not take it.  

  • All persons, including those who were assigned male at birth and those who were assigned female at birth, who are planning to conceive or conceive with a partner should not take GLP-1s for at least 2-3 months prior to attempts at conception, including in-vitro fertilization (IVF).   

What are the possible adverse effects of GLP-1?

Side effects to the medication:  

  • The side effects of GLP-1s are generally limited to gastrointestinal complaints, with the most common being nausea and diarrhea.  Other side effects included vomiting, constipation, and abdominal pain, dyspepsia (or upset stomach), abdominal distension, and reflux.  Non-gastrointestinal side effects included headache, fatigue, and dizziness.  

  • In patients with type 2 diabetes, there were also reports of low blood sugar.  

  • Less common were serious side effects including inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), gallbladder inflammation and stones, kidney injury, increases in heart rate, and complications related to diabetic retinopathy in patients with type 2 diabetes.

  • Changes in mood have been reported with GLP-1s and you should report these to your Ro-affiliated provider.  Your provider will also monitor this while you are being treated with GLP-1s by us.  

  • Possible thyroid tumors, including cancer: Ozempic and medications like it have caused tumors in rodent studies; it is not certain if Ozempic causes thyroid tumors or a type of thyroid cancer in humans. Specifically, cases of medullary thyroid carcinoma (“MTC”) in patients treated with a different medication in the same class as semaglutide (liraglutide, another GLP-1 receptor agonist), have been reported, but the data in these reports are insufficient to establish or exclude a causal relationship between MTC and GLP-1 receptor agonist use in humans. You should alert your Ro-affiliated provider if you get a lump or swelling in your neck, develop hoarse voice, have trouble swallowing, trouble breathing, or shortness of breath. 

Side effects to the injection:

  • Patients occasionally note irritation of the skin or small raised areas near or at the injection site.  By ensuring that the area of injection is cleaned with an alcohol swab prior to injection and injecting at a perpendicular angle to the skin, you can decrease the chance of these reactions occurring.  These usually go away on their own within 4-8 weeks.

When should I contact my Ro-affiliated provider? 
  • Contact your Ro-affiliated physician, and all of your healthcare providers, if you experience any new symptoms after beginning your GLP-1 treatment. If you have any serious signs or symptoms like, but not limited to, blood in your stool, severe diarrhea, fainting, or severe abdominal pain, please seek out emergency medical treatment.

How do I use a GLP-1? 
  • GLP-1 medications are given through a subcutaneous (under the skin) mechanism.   This is done through a small injection with the injector pen you received.  On the same day each week, you will use the injector pen.  After sterilizing a small area on your abdomen, thigh, or upper arm with an alcohol wipe, you will place the pen firmly on the skin and depress the button at the top of the pen.  You will keep the pen and needle on the skin while holding the button for a specific amount of time, depending on which brand of pen you receive.  After this, the medication has been delivered.  

  • If at any time you feel uncertain about how to use your medication, please reach out to your Ro-affiliated provider or a member of your coaching team. 

Additional Guidance: 

In addition to the medication, you should pursue a healthy diet as well as physical activity.  We will work with you through our GLP-1 and GIP/GLP-1 patient experience and coaching team to help guide you through these lifestyle changes. 

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