Ozempic contains the active ingredient semaglutide. Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonist, which exerts its pharmacological activity to induce effects like blood sugar control and weight loss. With Ozempic, the semaglutide is provided as a clear, colorless solution contained within a pen. This is a prefilled, disposable pen meant for a single patient. These pens can provide 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, and 1 mg of semaglutide with each injection.
Because Ozempic is a solution contained within an injectable pen, it likely has different storage instructions compared to other types of medications you may have. It is incredibly important to follow these directions to ensure your Ozempic maintains its stability, efficacy, and safety so that you can experience optimal results. This article will discuss the importance of proper medication storage and how this relates to keeping your Ozempic.
The purpose of proper medication storage
General storage requirements for medications
Prescription medications are strictly studied during development and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their safety and efficacy. Therefore, when you take your medication home from the pharmacy, such as with your Ozempic, you are likely expecting successful results with the use of the medication. While this should happen, a large component of your medicine’s safety and efficacy has to do with how you store it.
Your medicine is made up of different chemicals and components that are somewhat fragile. When exposed to varying temperatures, environments, and mechanical disturbance, these ingredients may not act as intended. Thus, pharmaceutical companies will run stability studies for their products to characterize the temperature and environmental conditions under which these drugs remain effective.
For most medications, the typical storage instructions are to store them at room temperature in a cool and dry place. However, certain medications like Ozempic have special storage instructions in which you must refrigerate the medication.
Keeping medications away from children
An important part of storing any medication, including Ozempic, is to keep it out of reach from children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 35,000 young children are admitted to the emergency department annually because they got hold of medication. All of these visits would be preventable if the medication was out of a child’s reach and sight. Instilling proper precautions can be a bit more difficult when it comes to refrigerated medications, like Ozempic, but here are some tips on how to child-proof your medicines:
- Put your medication in a place high up and out of reach from your child. This may be the back of your fridge or a high-up shelf within the fridge.
- Ensure you put your Ozempic back in the fridge or cabinet after every time you use it or dispose of it. Never leave the injection out in the open.
- If your child is old enough, teach them about medication and why it is not safe to use or touch without an adult.
- Prepare in case of an emergency. Have the poison control center’s phone number (800-222-122) saved in case your child accidentally gets to your Ozempic or any other medication.
Factors affecting medication stability
There are several things that can affect medication stability, including temperature which we’ve already mentioned. But what else can impact stability, and how does this relate to storage conditions? Things to consider ensuring the efficacy and safety of your medicine include:
- Storage conditions. Things like temperature, humidity, and light exposure can greatly affect the stability of drugs. For example, high humidity and temperatures can speed up the degradation process of the drug’s ingredients. Additionally, light exposure can lead to decomposition. Certain medications are especially sensitive to light and must be stored in dark places in amber bottles.
- The container. The vehicle holding your medication is equally important to the environment around it. Containers help to keep moisture out, preventing humid conditions that can lead to degradation.
- Storage time. Just like the food we eat, medications have expiration dates. This is because drugs will deteriorate and degrade after a certain amount of time. The longer we go without taking a medication, the more likely it is to degrade.
- Dosage forms. Medications come in all different dosage forms, including capsules, tablets, solutions, and more. Certain dosage forms, like solutions, are more susceptible to degradation versus solid dosage forms because of the water content.
Ozempic storage recommendations
The Ozempic manufacturers have recommendations for how to store your Ozempic pens, ensuring that you are using viable product. It is important to make a distinction between storage of Ozempic pens before their first use and after their first use. The instructions for each of these is different and as follows:
- Before first use: Before the first use of an Ozempic pen, keep it in the refrigerator at a temperature between 36- and 46-degrees Fahrenheit. Unused Ozempic pens can be kept under these conditions up until the expiration date.
- After first use: After you have used an Ozempic pen once, you can store it in one of two ways: (1) in the refrigerator between 3- and 46-degrees Fahrenheit or (2) at room temperature between 59- and 86-degrees Fahrenheit. Regardless of which way you store it, only store it for up to 56 days. After 56 days has passed, the Ozempic is no longer usable.
In addition, when you are keeping your Ozempic in the fridge, ensure that it is not being kept right next to the refrigerator’s cooling element. This can expose the Ozempic to extremely cold temperatures, potentially resulting in freezing.
Some people may have difficulty tracking the expiration of their Ozempic medication. While the Ozempic pen will have an expiration date, this date only applies to unused Ozempic that has been kept in the refrigerator. After first use of Ozempic, you should calculate 56 days out to know its actual expiration date.
To keep track of this, you could use the following methods:
- Mark 56 days out in your calendar to document the expiration date
- Set a reminder in your phone for the expiration date
- Write the expiration date somewhere on the pen
Frequently asked questions
How long can Ozempic stay out of the refrigerator?
Your Ozempic can stay out of the refrigerator at room temperature for up to 56 days. After 56 days, you should dispose of your Ozempic.
What happens if Ozempic is not refrigerated before first use?
If your Ozempic is not refrigerated before first use, you should dispose of it.
I left my Ozempic out overnight, what do I do?
If you already used your Ozempic and left it out overnight, it will be okay to use up until 56 days thereafter. This assumes that it was kept at room temperature and away from light or heat.
What happens if my Ozempic is exposed to extreme temperatures?
If your Ozempic has been exposed to extreme temperatures outside of those recommended by the manufacturer, you should dispose of your Ozempic.
What if my Ozempic is frozen?
If your Ozempic is frozen, you should dispose of it and not use it.
What do I do with my used Ozempic?
Used Ozempic can be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 56 days. Once the 56 days have passed, you should dispose of it using the special storage instructions below.
How do I dispose of my Ozempic?
Although proper storage of your Ozempic is paramount, you should also ensure you are implementing safe practices when disposing of your medication. This will ensure the health of you, those around you, the people dealing with your trash, and the environment.
After 56 days, you should throw away your Ozempic, regardless of if there is still medication left. Because Ozempic contains a pen and needle, it must be handled with extra caution versus other types of medications. Ideally, you should dispose of your Ozempic in an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container immediately after you use it. If you do not have one of these containers, utilize a household container with the following characteristics:
- Leak resistant
- Composed of heavy-duty plastic
- Contains a puncture-resistant, tight lid
- Labeled that it contains hazardous waste
- Upright and stable
- Kept away from children
In summary, the storage of your medication is an important factor to consider if you want to get the most out of your therapy. The environment you keep your medication in affects its stability, which in turn affects how quickly it degrades and loses efficacy. Thus, we must consider things like temperature, humidity, expiration, and the medication’s container.
With Ozempic specifically, it is provided as a solution within an injectable pen. Because of this, Ozempic should be kept in the refrigerator prior to first use. After first use, you can keep it in the refrigerator or at room temperature for a period of 56 days, after which you should dispose of it in a proper waste container.