You’ve likely heard about Ozempic (semaglutide), a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to manage blood sugar levels for people with Type 2 diabetes. It gained approval in 2017 but has surged in popularity recently due to the medication’s ability to help with weight loss. Ozempic can be prescribed off-label (a use that is not FDA-approved) for weight loss, or your healthcare provider may prescribe Wegovy, an injectable medication that is made by the same manufacturer with the same active ingredient and that is approved for weight loss.
Ozempic and Wegovy are both prefilled pens given as a weekly injection. To make sure the medication remains safe to use and lasts until its expiration date, you need to store it properly when you’re at home or taking a trip. For Ozempic, that means keeping it refrigerated—most of the time.
Does Ozempic need to be refrigerated?
Whether Ozempic needs to be refrigerated depends on whether it has been used yet.
If your Ozempic pen is new, the manufacturer recommends that it should be refrigerated between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Ozempic pens are intended for multiple uses, so once it is opened, you can continue to keep them up to 56 days in the fridge or at room temperature. If you decide not to keep your used Ozempic pen refrigerated, make sure it’s not exposed to temperatures below 59 F or above 86 F.
Does Wegovy need to be refrigerated?
The Wegovy manufacturer also recommends that Wegovy pens should be refrigerated between 36 F and 46 F. However, unopened Wegovy pens can be stored outside of the refrigerator in temperatures between 46 F and 86 F if needed, in the original carton, for up to 28 days. Unlike Ozempic, Wegovy is available as a single-use pen, so it should be safely discarded after use.
When storing Ozempic or Wegovy outside of the refrigerator, it “should be kept out of direct sunlight and away from excessive heat,” says Evan Sisson, Pharm.D., vice chair of Practice and Service in the VCU School of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science.
How long can Ozempic and Wegovy be left unrefrigerated?
Unopened Ozempic should always be refrigerated. After you have used your Ozempic pen, the medication can be kept either in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to 56 days.
Unopened Wegovy pens can be stored in the refrigerator. Or, unlike Ozempic, unopened Wegovy pens can be stored unrefrigerated with the pen cap still on for up to 28 days at temperatures between 46 F and 86 F. It should be kept in the original carton to protect it from light.
If you are home, you likely will not have any issues with the storage recommendations. However, if you’re traveling, you may need to take some extra steps: You can purchase an insulin pouch with an ice pack to transport it.
As with any medication, you should put Ozempic or Wegovy in your carry-on luggage so it’s guaranteed to arrive with you at your destination. Although the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does allow you to travel with liquid medications, it never hurts to get a letter from your prescribing provider explaining your need for the medication. This should make your screening through airport security go smoother.
Why does Ozempic need to be refrigerated?
Storing Ozempic properly preserves its quality, safety, and effectiveness. “Proteins, like Ozempic, may break down or lose potency if exposed to heat,” Dr. Sisson says. “Ozempic that has not been stored properly is unlikely to be harmful but will be less effective than expected.”
If Ozempic isn’t refrigerated properly, the medication may become unsafe for use or increase the risk of side effects of Ozempic when improperly kept outside the recommended temperature conditions.
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“Freezing, excessive heat or high temperature, and sunlight can damage the Ozempic medication, leaving the medication ineffective,” explains Nathan Goodyear, MD, medical director of Brio-Medical in Scottsdale, Arizona.
How to store Ozempic
To ensure proper storage of Ozempic, you should follow a few basic rules:
- Before opening a new pen, keep it in the refrigerator between 36 F and 46 F.
- After first use, keep it refrigerated or at room temperature between 59 F and 86 F.
- Never freeze Ozempic or expose it to excessive heat.
- Keep the medication in a dry, dim place. Don’t expose it to direct sunlight.
- Ensure the pen cap is fully closed after taking each dose of Ozempic.
- Safely remove and dispose of the needle after taking your weekly Ozempic injection. Never store the Ozempic pen with an injection needle attached to it.
- Dispose of Ozempic when it has been open for longer than 56 days, or it has reached its expiration date.
How to store Wegovy
Wegovy storage recommendations are slightly different than Ozempic:
- Before opening a new pen, keep it in the refrigerator between 36 F and 46 F or, if needed, you may store it outside of the refrigerator between 46 F and 86 F for up to 28 days.
- Never freeze Wegovy or expose it to excessive heat.
- Keep the medication in a dry, dim place in its original carton. Don’t expose it to direct sunlight.
- Safely remove and dispose of the pen after taking your weekly Wegovy injection.
- Discard the Wegovy pen after use, or it has reached the expiration date.
If you are concerned your semaglutide pen has not been stored properly, speak with your healthcare professional or pharmacist about what to do.