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Warning: Risk of Thyroid C-Cell TumorsIn rodents, semaglutide causes dose-dependent and treatment-duration-dependent thyroid C-cell tumors at clinically relevant exposures. It is unknown whether semaglutide causes thyroid C-cell tumors, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), in humans as human relevance of semaglutide-induced rodent thyroid C-cell tumors has not been determined.Semaglutide is contraindicated in patients with a personal or family history of MTC or in patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2). Counsel patients regarding the potential risk for MTC with the use of semaglutide and inform them of symptoms of thyroid tumors (eg, a mass in the neck, dysphagia, dyspnea, persistent hoarseness). Routine monitoring of serum calcitonin or using thyroid ultrasound is of uncertain value for early detection of MTC in patients treated with semaglutide .
Medically reviewed by Holevn.org. Last updated on May 4, 2019.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antidiabetic
Pharmacologic Class: Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonist
Uses for semaglutide
Semaglutide injection is used to treat type 2 diabetes. It is used together with diet and exercise to help control your blood sugar. Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist.
Semaglutide is available only with your doctor’s prescription.
Before using semaglutide
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For semaglutide, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to semaglutide or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of semaglutide injection in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of semaglutide injection in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more sensitive to the effects of semaglutide than younger adults.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of semaglutide. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (ketones in the blood) or
- Type 1 diabetes—Should not be used in patients with these conditions. Insulin is needed to control these conditions.
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2) or
- Thyroid cancer, history of—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), history of—It is not known if semaglutide will be safe in patients with this condition.
- Diabetic retinopathy, history of or
- Digestion problems or
- Kidney disease—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
Proper use of semaglutide
When you start using semaglutide, it is very important that you check your blood sugar often, especially before and after meals and at bedtime. This will help lower the chance of having very low blood sugar.
Carefully follow the special meal plan your doctor gave you. This is the most important part of controlling your diabetes, and is necessary if the medicine is to work properly. Also, exercise regularly and test for sugar in your blood or urine as directed.
Semaglutide comes with a Medication Guide and patient instructions. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
If you will be using semaglutide at home, your doctor will teach you how the injections will be given. Be sure you understand exactly how the medicine is to be injected.
Semaglutide is given as a shot under the skin of your stomach, thighs, or upper arm. Use a different body area each time you give yourself a shot. Keep track of where you give each shot to make sure you rotate body areas.
If you use semaglutide with insulin, do not mix them into the same syringe. It is acceptable to inject these in the same body area, but the shots should not be right next to each other.
Check the liquid in the pen. it should be clear and colorless. Do not use it if it is cloudy, discolored, or has particles in it.
Use a new needle each time you inject your medicine.
Never share medicine pens with others under any circumstances. It is not safe for one pen to be used for more than one person. Sharing needles or pens can result in transmission of infection.
Use semaglutide on the same day each week, at any time of the day, with or without meals.
The dose of semaglutide will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor’s orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of semaglutide. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For type 2 diabetes:
- For injection dosage form (solution):
- Adults—0.25 milligrams (mg) injected under the skin once a week for 4 weeks. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 1 mg once a week.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For injection dosage form (solution):
If you miss a dose of semaglutide, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
If you miss a dose, use it as soon as possible within 5 days after your missed dose. If you miss a dose for more than 5 days, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Store in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.
Store your new, unused medicine pen in its original carton in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. You may store the opened medicine pen in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 56 days. Throw away the pen after you use it for 56 days, even if it still has medicine in it.
Throw away used needles in a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container away from children and pets.
Precautions while using semaglutide
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that semaglutide is working properly. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
It is very important to carefully follow any instructions from your health care team about:
- Alcohol—Drinking alcohol may cause severe low blood sugar. Discuss this with your health care team.
- Other medicines—Do not take other medicines during the time you are using semaglutide unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This especially includes nonprescription medicines such as aspirin, and medicines for appetite control, asthma, colds, cough, hay fever, or sinus problems.
- Counseling—Other family members need to learn how to prevent side effects or help with side effects if they occur. Also, diabetic patients may need special counseling about diabetes medicine dosing changes that might occur because of lifestyle changes, such as changes in exercise and diet. Furthermore, counseling on contraception and pregnancy may be needed because of the problems that can occur during pregnancy in patients with diabetes.
- Travel—Keep a recent prescription and your medical history with you. Be prepared for an emergency as you would normally. Make allowances for changing time zones and keep your meal times as close as possible to your usual meal times.
In case of emergency—There may be a time when you need emergency help for a problem caused by your diabetes. You need to be prepared for these emergencies. It is a good idea to wear a medical identification (ID) bracelet or neck chain at all times. Also, carry an ID card in your wallet or purse that says that you have diabetes and a list of all of your medicines.
Semaglutide may increase the risk of having thyroid tumors. Tell your doctor right away if you have a lump or swelling in your neck or throat, trouble swallowing or breathing, or if your voice gets hoarse.
Pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas) may occur while you are using semaglutide. Check with your doctor right away if you have sudden and severe stomach pain, chills, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, or lightheadedness.
Semaglutide may cause diabetic retinopathy. Check with your doctor if you have blurred vision or any other changes in vision.
Semaglutide does not cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). However, low blood sugar can occur when you use semaglutide with other medicines, such as insulin or sulfonylureas, that can lower blood sugar. Low blood sugar also can occur if you delay or miss a meal or snack, exercise more than usual, drink alcohol, or cannot eat because of nausea or vomiting.
- Symptoms of low blood sugar include anxiety, behavior change similar to being drunk, blurred vision, cold sweats, confusion, cool, pale skin, difficulty with thinking, drowsiness, excessive hunger, fast heartbeat, headache (continuing), nausea, nervousness, nightmares, restless sleep, shakiness, slurred speech, or unusual tiredness or weakness.
- If symptoms of low blood sugar occur, eat glucose tablets or gel, corn syrup, honey, or sugar cubes, or drink fruit juice, non-diet soft drink, or sugar dissolved in water to relieve the symptoms. Also, check your blood for low blood sugar. Glucagon is used in emergency situations when severe symptoms such as seizures (convulsions) or unconsciousness occur. Have a glucagon kit available, along with a syringe and needle, and know how to use it. Members of your family should also know how to use it.
Semaglutide may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis and angioedema. These can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Check with your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, hoarseness, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, mouth, or throat while you are using semaglutide.
Semaglutide may cause acute kidney injury. Check with your doctor right away if you have a bloody urine, decreased urine output, muscle twitching, nausea, rapid weight gain, seizures, stupor, swelling of the face, ankles, or hands, or unusual tiredness or weakness.
Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) may occur if you do not take enough or skip a dose of your antidiabetic medicine, overeat or do not follow your meal plan, have a fever or infection, or do not exercise as much as usual.
- Symptoms of high blood sugar include blurred vision, drowsiness, dry mouth, flushed, dry skin, fruit-like breath odor, increased urination (frequency and amount), ketones in the urine, loss of appetite, stomachache, nausea or vomiting, tiredness, troubled breathing (rapid and deep), unconsciousness, or unusual thirst.
- If symptoms of high blood sugar occur, check your blood sugar level and then call your doctor for instructions.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Semaglutide side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Gaseous abdominal pain
- recurrent fever
- stomach fullness
- yellow eyes or skin
- Burning feeling in the chest or stomach
- stomach upset
- tenderness in the stomach area
Incidence not known
- blurred vision
- cold sweats
- cool, pale skin
- fast heartbeat
- feeling sad or empty
- increased heart rate
- increased hunger
- lack of appetite
- loss of consciousness
- loss of interest or pleasure
- slurred speech
- trouble concentrating
- trouble sleeping
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- stomach pain
- bloated, full feeling
- excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
- passing gas
- stomach discomfort or upset
- Bleeding, blistering, burning, coldness, discoloration of skin, feeling of pressure, hives, infection, inflammation, itching, lumps, numbness, pain, rash, redness, scarring, soreness, stinging, swelling, tenderness, tingling, ulceration, or warmth at the injection site
- change in taste
- loss of taste
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Seek emergency medical attention or call 115
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