Ozempic (semaglutide) is a medication commonly prescribed to individuals afflicted with type 2 diabetes to help manage their blood sugar levels.

As with any medication, proper storage is key to maintaining its effectiveness and ensuring patient safety. Improper storage may degrade the active ingredient in the medication, rendering it less effective or even harmful.

In this article, we will explore how to properly store Ozempic and provide tips on storing it correctly when traveling.

Key Findings

  • Ozempic should not be frozen or stored near the refrigerator’s cooling element, and the pen should be kept with the cap on and without the needle attached after each use.
  • Ozempic is supplied in pre-filled, disposable, single-patient-use pen injectors, available in different strengths and intended for specific treatment regimens.
  • Traveling with Ozempic requires careful planning, including keeping it cool during transportation, ensuring an adequate supply, and being mindful of time zones to maintain dosing consistency.
  • Proper storage and handling of Ozempic throughout treatment help ensure its potency, efficacy, and safety.

Ozempic Storage Requirements

Ozempic Pens stored in a refrigerator

Proper storage of Ozempic ensures its efficacy, safety, and adherence to regulatory requirements. This important practice helps keep patients safe during treatment.

Does Ozempic have to be refrigerated before opening?

Yes. According to the handling recommendations from the manufacturer, Ozempic should be kept in the fridge at a temperature ranging from 36°F to 46°F or 2°C to 8°C prior to first use. However, Ozempic should not be stored in the freezer or close to the refrigerator’s cooling element.

If semaglutide freezes, it may lead to problems such as degradation of its active ingredients, alteration of its chemical structure, and reduction in effectiveness.

This poses safety risks, especially crucial for diabetic individuals relying on it to manage blood sugar levels. Even after thawing, Ozempic becomes unsafe for use. It is advisable to promptly dispose of it and replace it with a new pen.

How to Check Your Refrigerator’s Temperature

There are two ways to gauge the temperature of your refrigerator.

Use a refrigerator thermometer: These are specifically designed to measure the temperature inside a refrigerator or freezer. They can accurately measure temperatures ranging from -20 to 80 °F / -30 to 30 °C, meeting different requirements. You can find them conveniently on Amazon, where prices range from $3.50 to $7.99.

Use a body thermometer: The most common practice is to place a glass of water in the refrigerator, excluding the door, and let it sit for a day. Then place the thermometer in the glass to get a reading. Since the internal temperature of a refrigerator isn’t consistent throughout, you may want to repeat the process and place the glass of water in different places around the fridge.

To ensure the stability of your fridge’s temperature, be mindful of factors that may cause fluctuations, such as frequent opening of the door or adding uncooled items.

Avoid storing your Ozempic pens on the refrigerator shelf where temperature variations could vary. Regularly check their placement to prevent exposure to heat from nearby food items or those not yet cooled.

Does Ozempic need to be refrigerated after opening?

After the first use, an Ozempic pen can be safely stored for up to 56 days at room temperature (59°F to 86°F or approximately 15°C to 30°C), or in a refrigerator (36°F to 46°F or 2°C to 8°C).

When storing at room temperature, keep your Ozempic away from excessive heat and light. Exposure to temperatures above 86°F (30°C) can spoil the pen, making it unsafe for use. If you live in hotter climates, consider storing your Ozempic in the refrigerator instead.

Unused Ozempic pens can be kept until the expiration date printed on the label, provided they are stored in the refrigerator at all times.

Why does Ozempic need to be refrigerated?

Refrigeration helps maintain a medication’s potency and effectiveness by slowing down the degradation of its active ingredients.

This is especially important for medications like Ozempic, which contain semaglutide as the active ingredient and are dispensed as liquid solutions for injection. At room temperature, semaglutide solutions are more susceptible to bacterial growth.

In addition to refrigeration, proper storage practices for Ozempic pens include storing them without an attached injection needle after use. Keep the pen cap on and safely discard the needle after each injection. Remember to use a new needle for each injection to maintain hygiene and prevent contamination.

Tips for Storing Ozempic While Traveling

If you’re planning to travel, here are some tips for storing Ozempic:

1. Keep it Cool

Before traveling, pack Ozempic in an insulated bag or cooler along with ice packs to maintain the appropriate temperature. Make sure it remains in the cooler and away from direct contact with the ice packs to prevent freezing.

Portable refrigerators are available for purchase and designed to store cold-chain medications during travel. Consider investing in one if you frequently travel.

Keep your Ozempic pens in the vehicle’s main interior. Avoid placing them in the trunk where temperature control may be inadequate.

When traveling by air, always carry your Ozempic pens in your carry-on luggage to prevent exposure to extreme conditions in the cargo hold. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) permits diabetes-related medications and supplies through security checkpoints.

Separate them from other belongings during security screening, and consider bringing them in their original packaging for easy identification. For added convenience, carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your physician.

2. Plan Ahead

Before you travel, ensure you have an adequate supply of Ozempic to last throughout your trip. Refill your prescription if necessary, and get extra in case your trip is longer than expected or there are delays.

3. Be Mindful of Time Zones

If traveling across time zones, maintain consistency in your Ozempic dosing schedule as much as possible. Inform your healthcare provider of any significant time differences to adjust your dosing time if necessary.

4. Dispose of Sharps Safely

Proper disposal of used Ozempic pens or needles is essential, especially when traveling. Pack a sharps container designed for safe needle disposal and securely seal it to prevent accidental needle sticks. Make sure to follow local rules for getting rid of medical waste to avoid any problems.

5. Stay Informed

Before traveling, research local pharmacies and healthcare facilities at your destination in case you need assistance or a replacement supply of Ozempic.

With good planning, handling diabetes medication while traveling can be easy, letting you focus on enjoying your trip.

Signs of Improper Storage of Ozempic

When receiving Ozempic from a mail-order pharmacy, it may be exposed to extreme temperatures during transit. While most mail-order pharmacies use specialized packaging and protective measures, it’s advisable to inspect your prescription upon arrival.

To determine if Ozempic has gone bad, check for the following:

1. Check the package

Cold-chain medications, including Ozempic, are commonly shipped in medical-grade containers with gel or ice packs to maintain cool temperatures. If these packs are fully melted upon arrival, it could indicate a potential compromise to your medication.

Keep in mind that Ozempic is also sensitive to extremely cold temperatures. If you notice it’s packaged with ice packs, ensure it’s not in direct contact with them. Additionally, check that the medication wasn’t frozen, as freezing can also impact its effectiveness.

2. Inspect for changes in appearance

Carefully inspect for changes such as precipitation or a change in color or clarity that may indicate a loss in potency.

3. Look for particles in the liquid

If you notice any particles present in the medication, it may indicate that the Ozempic has deteriorated.

4. Look for a temperature indicator

Mail-order pharmacies typically provide a “cold sensor,” usually a strip. If the strip changes color, the package’s temperature may have exceeded acceptable limits.

Bottom Line

Ozempic should be kept in a refrigerated environment until its initial use. Once the pen has been used for the first time, it can be stored for up to 56 days at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Ozempic pens in use should be disposed of after 56 days, regardless of storage conditions. Conversely, unused pens can remain effective until their expiration date if refrigerated.

Proper storage and handling of Ozempic helps maintain its potency, efficacy, and safety throughout treatment. Furthermore, when traveling, patients must take extra precautions to maintain Ozempic’s integrity, including keeping it cool and planning ahead for refills.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can Ozempic be left unrefrigerated?

If Ozempic has been opened and initially used, you can safely keep it at room temperature, ideally between 59°F to 86°F, for up to 56 days. However, if Ozempic has not been used and was left unrefrigerated, reach out to your healthcare provider to discuss potential options, including the possibility of replacement or alternative solutions to ensure your medication’s effectiveness and safety.

Is it safe to inject Ozempic immediately after removing it from the refrigerator?

Injecting Ozempic immediately after removing it from the refrigerator is permissible. However, it is advisable to take your Ozempic pen out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes before your dose. This can help you avoid the stinging sensation that may occur when injecting cold Ozempic.

How do you store Ozempic pens during power outages or emergencies?

To maintain the cold temperature during power outages, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. The refrigerator can maintain a cool temperature for 2-3 hours if unopened. For longer durations without power, transfer your Ozempic pens to a cooler with ice packs. Use a thermometer to monitor temperature and avoid direct contact between Ozempic and ice to prevent freezing.

What should you do if your Ozempic pen is exposed to heat?

If you ordered Ozempic online and suspect that your package was exposed to extreme temperatures or damaged during delivery, contact the pharmacy before using it. Take note of the package and its contents upon arrival, and if applicable, try to estimate how long it was left outside after delivery. This information will help the pharmacy assess any potential issues and provide appropriate guidance.

What happens if you don’t refrigerate Ozempic?

If an unused Ozempic pen has not been refrigerated, it may not retain its effectiveness until the expiration date. The manufacturer can only guarantee the pen’s efficacy until the expiration date if it has been refrigerated before initial use. However, if it’s a previously used or opened pen, you can still use it, provided it hasn’t been exposed to direct heat or light and hasn’t exceeded 56 days since its first use.

How do you tell if Ozempic has gone bad?

Ozempic presents itself as clear and colorless when properly stored. Inspect it carefully for any changes, such as precipitation or alterations in color or clarity, which could suggest a loss of potency. If you detect any particles, solid elements, strings, or if it appears cloudy, it likely indicates that it has gone bad.

What is the shelf life of Ozempic?

The shelf life of unused Ozempic is marked on the box as “EXP,” indicating when it expires. If the box remains unopened and is stored correctly in the refrigerator, it remains usable until this expiration date. However, once opened, you can only use the remaining medication for up to 56 days.

When should I discard Ozempic pens?

Unused Ozempic pens can be stored in the refrigerator and used until the expiration date (EXP) listed on the box. However, the pen you are currently using should be discarded after 56 days, regardless of whether there is medication left inside. Mark the disposal date on your calendar for reference.

Dispose of both the pen and needle in an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container. If you don’t have one, you can use a household container that meets specific criteria outlined by the FDA, including being made of heavy-duty plastic, having a tight-fitting, puncture-resistant lid, and being properly labeled as hazardous waste.

Does Ozempic still work at room temperature?

Yes, you can keep your Ozempic pen safe for up to 56 days as long as you store it within the recommended temperature ranges. Room temperature between 59°F to 86°F or approximately 15°C to 30°C is suitable. Avoid exposing Ozempic to excessive heat and light, as temperatures above 86°F (30°C) can spoil the pen and make it unsafe to use. If you live in a hotter climate, consider refrigerating your Ozempic instead. Always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s storage instructions closely.

Can you use semaglutide after the expiration date?

The FDA recommends against using medications, including those containing semaglutide, after their expiration date. Even with proper storage, using expired semaglutide may result in reduced efficacy and pose potential health risks.

Can I fly with Ozempic?

Yes. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows diabetes-related medications and supplies through security checkpoints. To avoid exposure to extreme conditions in the cargo hold, always carry your Ozempic pens in your carry-on luggage. During security screening, separate them from other belongings, and consider bringing them in their original packaging for easy identification. For added convenience, carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your physician.

Sources

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FDA. (2017, Dec). Highlights Of Prescribing Information of Ozempic. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/209637lbl.pdf

Hassan, A., (2024, Feb). What Happens if Semaglutide Freezes: A Guide for Diabetics. LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-happens-semaglutide-freezes-guide-diabetics-ali-hassan-umlwf/

Marin Health and Human Services. (NA). Managing Health Conditions and Food Safety During a Power Outage. MarinHHS. https://www.marinhhs.org/managing-health-conditions-food-safety-during-power-outage

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