A new medication for type 2 diabetes

Ozempic is a new injectable medication for people living with type 2 diabetes. Ozempic contains the active ingredient, Semaglutide. This medication became available on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS) as a subsidised prescription in July 2020.

Semaglutide works like the incretins naturally produced in your body when you eat but it has a much stronger action than those our body produces. It works to lower blood glucose levels by telling your body to produce more insulin when you eat. Semaglutide also slows the motion and absorption of food from your gut allowing your body to respond better to food. It also will reduce your appetite and you may lose weight.

How might this medication benefit you?

  • Your appetite may decrease
  • You may lose weight
  • It reduces the impact of diabetes on your heart, brain and circulation
  • You only use it once weekly and is easy to use
  • It works very well to reduce blood glucose levels

Why may it not be suitable for you?

  • It is an injectable medication. The needles are as fine as those used for insulin. Please note Ozempic is not insulin.
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea are unwanted effects that occur in one in five people early in the treatment. These will reduce over time.
  • If you have other medical issues such as digestive issues, gastroparesis or diabetic retinopathy caution is advised.
  • You may be pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

How is it used?

  • It is injected just under your skin into the fat layer (subcutaneous) in the stomach, thigh or upper arm area. Never inject into a vein or muscle. The kit contains needles that are changed with each use.
  • You need to inject this medication once a week on the same day each week. Write the date on your carton each time and set a reminder. You can change this day as long as it has been three days since the last injection.
  • You do not have to eat when you use it.
  • If you forget a dose it can be taken within five days. If it is more than five days, skip that dose and have the usual dose on the usual day.
  • The medication is stored in the refrigerator before use. It can be stored either at room temperature or the refrigerator for up to six weeks after you start using it. Never freeze this medication.

Tips for Ozempic

  • Stay hydrated. It can be an issue with possible nausea and diarrhoea but is essential.
  • If you are taking medication that is from a group called sulfonylureas or insulin already, your doctor may reduce the dose of your current medications. This will reduce the risk of your glucose levels going too low (hypoglycaemia). You may wish to monitor more frequently when you start taking this medication.
  • Make sure you understand what to expect when starting this medication and what needs to be reported to your doctor. Abdominal pain should always be reported. Ask your diabetes team to show you how to correctly use this medication before you take it home.
  • Ask your pharmacist for a copy of the consumer medicines information sheet for Ozempic.

For more information about this medication or other enquiries please contact us on the NDSS helpline 1800 637 700.


Donna Itzstein, Pharmacist, CDE



  1. Novo Nordisk. Ozempic – consumer medicines information. Therapeutic goods Administration. [Online] June 2nd, 2020.

Join our community of over 33,000 people living with diabetes