What type of drug is Ozempic (semaglutide)?
Medically reviewed by N. France, BPharm. Last updated on Feb 2, 2021.
Ozempic is used as an add-on to diet and exercise in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus to help improve control of their blood sugar levels (glycemic control). It's also used in people with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease to reduce the risk of a major adverse cardiovascular event.
What is GLP-1?
GLP-1 is an incretin hormone, which is inactivated by dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4). Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) is another such hormone.
GLP-1 and GIP stimulate the secretion of insulin after glucose is consumed, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels. They work via a process known as the incretin effect. In people with type 2 diabetes, this process may not work so well or may no longer work at all.
What are GLP-1 analogs?
GLP-1 analogs, such as Ozempic, are medications that increase levels of incretins. They are also known as incretin mimetics.
They work by increasing the amount of insulin available when it is needed and reducing the amount of unnecessary glucose being produced by the liver.
GLP-1 analogs have a number of benefits including:
- Delaying gastric emptying - reducing the rate at which the stomach digests food and empties
- Reduce appetite
- Promoting weight loss
- Lowering blood pressure
- Lowering cholesterol
GLP-1 analogs also provide additional cardiovascular-related and other benefits.
Most GLP-1 analogs are injected. Ozempic is injected once a week into the abdomen, thigh or upper arm using an injection pen. However, in September 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first tablet version of a GLP-1 analog called Rybelsus. Like Ozempic, Rybelsus also contains semaglutide.
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ozempic. Available from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2020/209637s003lbl.pdf. [Accessed February 2, 2021].
- Collins L, Costello RA. Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists. [Updated 2020 Jun 23]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551568/. [Accessed February 2, 2021].
- Diabetes UK. GLP-1 analogues. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/managing-your-diabetes/treating-your-diabetes/tablets-and-medication/incretin-mimetics. [Accessed February 2, 2021].
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA approves first oral GLP-1 treatment for type 2 diabetes. September 20, 2019. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-oral-glp-1-treatment-type-2-diabetes. [Accessed February 2, 2021].
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