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How Long Can You Stay on Ozempic?

How Long Can You Stay on Ozempic?

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There is no set time frame for how long you can stay on Ozempic®. For diabetic patients, Ozempic may be a long-term solution with no end point. People taking the drug for weight loss may need to stop if they experience damaging side effects, including gastroparesis, gastroenteritis or intestinal blockage.

What conditions does Ozempic treat?

Ozempic is a glucagon-like peptide-1 agonist (GLP-1) approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for type 2 diabetes. Patients taking Ozempic for the treatment of type 2 diabetes may be expected to continue taking the drug on a long-term basis.

Ozempic is also often used off-label to treat obesity and other medical conditions. However, the FDA has not approved Ozempic for weight loss. This means the drug has not been studied or federally reviewed for safety in patients seeking weight loss. It is also known by its generic name, semaglutide.

Semaglutide works by slowing the natural movement of food through the digestive system. This is called a delay in gastric emptying. Delayed gastric emptying makes you feel full for a longer time after eating. This effect can help people who want to lose weight by reducing their caloric intake and helping manage blood glucose levels.

Patients taking Ozempic for weight loss may believe they can stop taking the drug once they reach their goal weight. Unfortunately, studies and anecdotal evidence show weight loss patients who stop taking semaglutide are likely to regain a significant amount of the weight they lost.

Independent studies have also found serious Ozempic risks and side effects. With many off-label side effects and risks associated with Ozempic, continued use could be a dangerous, even life-threatening, choice for weight loss patients.

How long can you take Ozempic?

There isn’t a set time for patients to stay on Ozempic. If you experience side effects, you should speak with your provider to determine if you need to stop taking Ozempic. Be sure to speak to your doctor first before discontinuing the drug. If you come off the medication too quickly, you may experience serious side effects, including withdrawal, vomiting, nausea, constipation and diarrhea.

How long do you take Ozempic for diabetes?

You can continue to take Ozempic as long as your physician determines the medication works well for you and your body tolerates it. Although Ozempic is approved to treat type 2 diabetes, it is not approved to treat type 1 diabetes.

Taking Ozempic for diabetes

Ozempic is an under-the-skin (subcutaneous) injection. It is packaged as a single-use pen, similar to an epi-pen. Patients are expected to give themselves the injections at home.

Your health care provider will likely start your prescription with the smallest effective dosage to reduce your blood sugar levels. When taking Ozempic, most prescriptions begin at 0.25 mg. Your provider may increase your dose to 0.5 mg injections once per week for another four consecutive weeks.

At that point, your health care provider will monitor your blood glucose levels to determine whether Ozempic has helped manage insulin production. If your blood sugar levels have been well managed, your doctor may prescribe continued 0.5 mg injections once per week on a long-term basis.

However, if your blood sugar levels need to be reduced even further, your doctor may increase your Ozempic dosage from 0.5 mg to one or 2 mg injections once per week. The maximum recommended dosage is 2 mg weekly for type 2 diabetes. 

How long can you be on Ozempic for off-label use?

Ozempic is a long-term medication that has been prescribed for off-label use as well. Patients taking the drug for weight loss are likely to remain on the drug long term if they do not have any adverse reactions. However, it is important to remember that Ozempic is not FDA-approved for anything other than type 2 diabetes. Patients experiencing side effects while taking Ozempic for weight loss may need to stop taking the drug at some point in their treatment.

Wegovy is Ozempic’s sister drug. Both drugs have semaglutide as the active ingredient . However, Wegovy is FDA-approved for weight loss. The approval comes with several limitations that patients must meet.

Patients who don't meet the criteria for a Wegovy prescription may find their doctor recommending Ozempic instead. Unfortunately, patients who do not make lifestyle changes while taking Ozempic may find they react poorly to semaglutide.

In fact, at least 5% of patients have reported many common adverse reactions associated with Ozempic. These side effects often impact patients while they continue taking the drug. Some patients report continuing to cope with the side effects after stopping Ozempic. In a worldwide trial examining the efficacy and safety of semaglutide, 87.6% of patients taking 2.4 mg of semaglutide reported adverse reactions, and 63.5% experienced gastrointestinal issues. The side effects that may pose the most significant risk include:

  • Acute kidney injury
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Stomach paralysis
  • Thyroid cancer

At this time, it is unclear how Ozempic or Wegovy will affect the body after years of continued use. It is common for some people to stop responding to prescription drugs after taking them for an extended period of time. There is no denying the need for additional research on the long-term effectiveness of Wegovy, Rybelsus, Mounjaro, Ozempic and semaglutide.

Since the long-term impact is still unclear, it is crucial to pay close attention to potential side effects and how your body responds to semaglutide. If you are taking Ozempic to lose weight, do not stop taking the medication once you reach your goal weight unless your doctor tells you to do so. Coming off Ozempic can come with serious side effects, including dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea and weight regain. 

Side effects from Ozempic use

Side effects linked to Ozempic use range from mild to severe. While many have been included on the warning label, other potential risks are not on the warning label.

Common side effects

The Ozempic prescribing label lists many potential side effects. Some of these include:

Patients who receive a higher dose of Ozempic may be more likely to experience side effects. For example, during clinical trials:

  • 15.8% of patients taking 0.5 mg reported experiencing nausea
  • 20.3% of patients taking 1 mg of Ozempic reported nausea 

Some side effects of Ozempic affect patients while they take Ozempic. Some patients even continue to cope with adverse reactions after stopping the drug. In extreme cases, Ozempic patients may deal with lifelong conditions as a result of their semaglutide use.

If severe side effects are making it difficult or impossible for you to live your daily life, consult with your doctor. They may recommend methods to treat these symptoms or have you come off of Ozempic entirely.

Contact an Ozempic attorney

Complete this webform or call 1.800.768.4026 to contact attorneys Sara Couch and Jonathan Orent for more information or to discuss a potential Ozempic claim.

Serious Ozempic side effects

Taking Ozempic on a long-term basis may also increase the likelihood of serious side effects whether you are taking semaglutide for on or off-label use. Some of the most severe side effects and potential adverse reactions include:

  • Acute gallbladder disease
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Allergic reactions
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Hypoglycemia (when used with sulfonylurea or insulin)
  • Ileus or intestinal blockages
  • Increased risk of thyroid tumors
  • Medullary thyroid carcinoma
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type two
  • Pancreatitis
  • Thyroid c-cell tumors
     

The FDA is also investigating other serious side effects of Ozempic that were not included on the warning label, including alopecia and suicidal ideation. This is after Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Ozempic, added gallbladder disease and ileus to the warning label after already being on the market for several years . Novo Nordisk also advises against the use of semaglutide if you or an immediate blood relative have had medullary thyroid cancer. You should also avoid counterfeit versions of the drug recently found in the U.S. drug supply chain.

Contact your physician immediately if you are taking Ozempic and notice swelling in the throat, symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or extreme abdominal pain that will not go away. You may need urgent medical treatment and care. Do not stop taking Ozempic without consulting your doctor.

Gastroparesis

Over 8,862 Ozempic patients or their physicians have reported instances of gastroparesis and gastrointestinal issues since 2018. Gastroparesis stops your stomach from being able to contract and push food through your digestive system.

Ozempic is designed to slow digestion. But, when stomach movement (motility) is too low or stops altogether, it could prevent the stomach from emptying. This can lead to blockages and may require surgery to correct.

Some common symptoms associated with gastroparesis include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Acid reflux
  • Feeling full after consuming a small amount of food
  • Increased blood sugar levels

Once you develop gastroparesis, it is a chronic medical condition. This means symptoms can be managed, but there is no definitive cure. Many patients experiencing gastroparesis will continue to deal with the symptoms on a long-term basis.

Can you stop Ozempic at any time?

You should not stop Ozempic without talking with your doctor first. Your physician will be able to prepare you for potential side effects that come with stopping Ozempic. If you stop taking any prescription medication you are expected to take on a long-term basis, you could experience withdrawal. With Ozempic, this may include destabilized blood sugar, appetite changes and rapid weight gain.

Withdrawal occurs because your body has gotten used to receiving semaglutide. Instead of stopping Ozempic abruptly, you should consult with your doctor to work out a plan for tapering off your dose. If you experience several of the following serious side effects, contact your doctor as soon as possible:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Changes in vision
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme abdominal pain
  • Feeling shaky
  • Itching
  • Kidney failure
  • Mood changes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rash
  • Slurred speech
  • Sweating
  • Severe vomiting
  • Weakness
     

You may also need to stop Ozempic if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant. The Ozempic prescribing information states that semaglutide should be stopped at least two months before becoming pregnant. It can take a significant amount of time for semaglutide to clear out of your system.
 
Animal pregnancy studies suggest that semaglutide could increase the risk of low birth weight, miscarriage or birth defects. In fact, pregnant rats, cynomolgus monkeys and rabbits that were given semaglutide exhibited an increase in structural abnormalities and fetal death in their infants. These animal studies may predict potential outcomes in humans.

Whether you are taking Ozempic for on or off-label uses, you may need to plan on continuing the medication for the rest of your life. However, it is important to weigh the potential side effects and benefits with your doctor, as adverse reactions and serious side effects may not be worth the risk.

What happens when you stop Ozempic?

When you stop taking Ozempic, you may experience side effects and symptoms of withdrawal. You could potentially regain some or all of the weight you lost. Health care providers may consider Ozempic a lifelong treatment, so it is important to discuss potential side effects with your doctor if you are going to stop taking semaglutide. Ozempic is not a cure for diabetes or obesity, so it will stop working when you stop taking it.

Your body may react by experiencing symptoms of Ozempic withdrawal, including:

  • Binge eating
  • Blood glucose level increases
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased facial volume
  • Weight regain

It is especially important to be aware of the "rebound effect" that could occur whether you are taking Ozempic for type 2 diabetes or weight loss. The rebound effect is when the condition you were treating with Ozempic comes back even stronger after the drug loses its effectiveness or you stop taking it.

Diabetic patients who stop Ozempic could become hypoglycemic and experience much lower blood sugar levels than before starting semaglutide. Patients taking Ozempic to treat obesity may gain some or all of the weight lost or end up weighing more than before taking Ozempic.

Our medical drug experience

Our medical lawyers at Motley Rice have decades of experience advocating for patients who have suffered after taking dangerous prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs. If you have been prescribed Ozempic, Wegovy or another semaglutide weight loss drug and have experienced an injury, you may have the right to file a lawsuit as a way to be compensated for your injuries and harms. Our attorneys can help you determine if you’re eligible to file an Ozempic lawsuit.

Our team will work tirelessly by:

  • Investigating whether your medical condition and symptoms stem from your use of Ozempic or semaglutide
  • Gathering evidence to prove Novo Nordisk’s lack of compliance with FDA regulations
  • Demonstrating how the Ozempic warning label fails to properly warn you of the potential for certain serious side effects and adverse reactions
  • Identifying potential roadblocks throughout the litigation process

Read more on our medical drug litigation experience.


Do not stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting with your doctor. Discontinuing a prescribed medication without your doctor's advice can result in injury or death. Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and Rybelsus remain approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Sources
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  3. FDA. Medications Containing Semaglutide Marketed for Type 2 Diabetes or Weight Loss. 
  4. Healthline. Can You Have Withdrawal Symptoms from Semaglutide (Ozempic)?.
  5. LifeMD. What Happens When You Stop Taking Ozempic ?
  6. Mayo Clinic. Gastroparesis
  7. Medical News Today. Ozempic dosage. 
  8. Medical News Today. Ozempic (semaglutide). https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326252.
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  10. Medical News Today. What is drug tolerance?. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/drug-tolerance#what-is-it.
  11. Premium Health. What It’s Like to Stay on Ozempic Long-Term. https://premiumhealth.us/what-its-like-to-stay-on-ozempic-for-years/. 
  12. Rebound effects of modern drugs: serious adverse events unknown by health professionals. Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira (English Edition). 2013 Jan 1;59(6):629–38.
  13. Ro. What happens when you stop taking Ozempic?. https://ro.co/weight-loss/stop-taking-ozempic/#.
  14. SingleCare. How Ozempic can treat PCOS. https://www.singlecare.com/blog/ozempic-for-pcos/
  15. UC Davis Health. Ozempic for weight loss: Does it work, and what do experts recommend? 
  16. UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Gastroparesis Symptoms, Treatment, and Causes Medical Expert Interview. 
  17. Wilding JPH, Batterham RL, Davies M, Van Gaal LF, Kandler K, Konakli K, et al. Weight regain and cardiometabolic effects after withdrawal of semaglutide: The STEP 1 trial extension. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2022 Aug;24(8):1553–64. 
     


 

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