Wegovy Dosing Instructions: Keeping It Simple
Wegovy (generic name semaglutide) is in a family of medications called glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor (GLP-1) agonists. Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer, first developed this class of medications to treat type 2 diabetes. When researchers found that, besides reducing blood glucose, semaglutide caused significant weight loss, they explored the possibility of using semaglutide as a medication for long-term weight management. After a series of clinical trials demonstrating its effectiveness and safety, Wegovy was U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved on June 4th, 2021.
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At first glance, Wegovy dosing instructions might seem complicated, but the pen injector is easy to use and the dosage protocol is designed to reduce side effects. Learn how Wegovy works, side effects to watch for, and simple Wegovy dosing instructions.
How Does Wegovy Work?
Wegovy is a GLP-1 agonist, which means that it acts in the same way as GLP-1 in the body. It is in a drug class called incretin mimetics. Incretins are hormones that are released by cells lining the gastrointestinal tract (gut). GLP-1 receptors are found throughout the body, including the brain. GLP-1 agonists such as Wegovy:
- Cause the stomach to empty more slowly, so you feel full longer.
- Decrease hunger.
- Increase satiety.
Wegovy is used with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for long-term weight management. It is intended for adults with an initial body mass index (BMI) that indicates overweight or obesity.
- Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher.
- Overweight is defined as a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or greater with at least one weight-related medical condition, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or abnormal blood lipids.
Wegovy Side Effects
All medications have side effects. The most common side effects of all GLP-1 agonists are gastrointestinal. These side effects generally improve as your body adapts to taking Wegovy. However, it is important to never take another medication containing semaglutide or another GLP-1 agonist as long as you take Wegovy (semaglutide). GLP-1 agonists lower your blood sugar. If you take more than the recommended dose or more than one GLP-1 agonist simultaneously, it can cause dangerously low blood sugar and make the side effects of the medication worse.
Some of the more common side effects of Wegovy (semaglutide) (and how often they happened in clinical trials) are:
- Nausea (44%)
- Diarrhea (30%)
- Vomiting (24%)
- Constipation (24%)
- Stomach pain (20%)
- Headache (14%)
- Fatigue (11%)
- Heartburn (9%)
- Dizziness (8%)
- Stomach bloating (7%)
- Burping/flatulence (7%)
- Low blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes (6%)
- Gas (6%)
- Gastroenteritis (6%)
- Acid reflux (5%)
- Stomach irritation (4%)
- Viral gastroenteritis (4%)
- Hair loss (3%)
In the STEPS clinical trials, 5.8% of patients taking Wegovy and 11.6% of patients taking a placebo discontinued treatment due to side effects. Most side effects happen early in treatment or a day or two after an injection, especially if the dose is increased.
Serious Side Effects
More serious side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible include:
- Allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
- Vision changes
- Fast heartbeat
- Gallbladder problems
- Low blood sugar
- Lump or swelling on the neck
- Suicidal thoughts, depression
- Trouble breathing
- Trouble swallowing
Contraindications To Using Wegovy (Semaglutide)
Wegovy (semaglutide) should not be taken by people with:
- A personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma
- Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2
- Known hypersensitivity to semaglutide or any of the medication components
Wegovy (Semaglutide) Warnings
Wegovy (semaglutide) can cause serious health problems, particularly in people who are predisposed to these conditions.
- Thyroid C-cell tumors: animal studies showed that an increased dose of semaglutide or a longer treatment period increased the risk of thyroid cancer in rats. It is unclear whether people would have a similar risk. Tell your doctor if you notice a lump in your neck, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, or shortness of breath.
- Pancreatitis: discontinue Wegovy and call your doctor if you develop stomach pain that radiates to your back and may be accompanied by fever, nausea, or vomiting.
- Gallbladder disease: gallstones and gallbladder disease can cause upper abdominal pain and yellowing of the skin or eyes.
- Hypoglycemia: low blood sugar can cause irritability, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, sweating, hunger, headache, or loss of consciousness.
- Kidney injury: trouble passing urine or change in the amount of urine you pass may be signs of kidney injury.
- Diabetic retinopathy in people with type 2 diabetes: contact your doctor if you notice any changes in your vision.
People who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the next two months should not take Wegovy (semaglutide).
Wegovy (Semaglutide) Dosing Instructions
Wegovy has a maximum approved dose of 2.4 mg per week. It is administered by using a pen injector, which delivers the medication just under the skin’s surface. Before using the full treatment dose, starting and intermediate doses of GLP-1 agonists are given before titrating up to the full treatment dose. This is done to reduce the gastrointestinal side effects of GLP-1 agonists.
Wegovy (semaglutide) comes in five dose strengths:
- 0.25 mg
- 0.5 mg
- 1 mg
- 1.7 mg
- 2.4 mg
Following your healthcare provider’s instructions, Wegovy (semaglutide) dosing is according to the following schedule:
- Month 1: (weeks 1-4): take 0.25 mg each week
- Month 2: (weeks 5-8): take 0.5 mg each week
- Month 3: (weeks 9-12): take 1 mg each week
- Month 4: (weeks 13-16): take 1.7 mg each week
- Month 5: (weeks 17 and onward): 2.4 mg each week (full dose)
According to the manufacturer, you can take Wegovy with or without food. The auto-injecting pen is a single preset dose. The needle is hidden to prevent injury. Before administering Wegovy, check:
- Expiration date: Look at the expiration date on the back of the pen.
- Dose: Verify that you are taking the prescribed dose, whether you are in the escalation sequence or at your maintenance (full dose).
- Pen window: Verify that the medication appears to be clear and colorless. Air bubbles do not affect the medication.
Wegovy (Semaglutide) Injection Site And Dose Instructions
Before injecting Wegovy, the needle is hidden inside the pen. After injection, the needle cover will lock into place. There is no best time of day to inject Wegovy (semaglutide), so take it whenever it works best for you.
- Collect your supplies: Wegovy pen injection, one alcohol wipe or soap and water, one gauze pad, and one sharps container for disposing of used Wegovy pens.
- Consider leaving your pen out to reach room temperature before using it.
- Wash your hands.
- Choose your injection site (check for rashes, bruising, or other blemishes). Injection sites include
- Upper arm
- Upper leg (front of the thigh)
- Lower stomach (at least 2 inches from the belly button)
- Clean the injection area with alcohol or soap and water.
- Remove the pen cap right before you are ready to inject your medication. Do not touch or push on the needle cover.
- Push the pen against the skin until the yellow bar has stopped moving. You will hear two clicks; one indicates that the injection has started, and the other indicates an ongoing injection. The injection process will take about 10 seconds.
Wegovy should be stored in the refrigerator, but if needed, before removing the pen cap, Wegovy can be stored from 8°C to 30°C (46°F to 86°F) in the original carton for up to 28 days. Keep Wegovy in its original container to protect it from light.
As with all medications, contact your healthcare provider if you have any questions about your medication dosage or how to administer it. Your monthly supply of semaglutide should include four pen injectors preloaded with the appropriate dose. Administer one dose each week and monitor for any side effects. Contact the medical professionals at Invigor Medical to discuss weight-management options and solutions that best meet your goals.
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice