This content was reviewed and approved for its accuracy on 17/03/2022 by Professor Frank Joseph

Photograph of Professor Frank Joseph, weight loss expert for myBMI

Oral Semaglutide: What is it and how do you take it?

 

Taking injected medication isn’t for everyone.

 

Needles can make anyone feel a bit squeamish but if you have a more severe needle phobia (trypanophobia, if you’re fancy) being faced with a weekly injection can cause a lot of anxiety.

 

This can be even worse if you’re expected to administer an injection to yourself, whether it’s daily or weekly.

 

Naturally, this can put some people off taking GLP-1 medications like Semaglutide, even if they would be suitable patients and could see a lot of benefits from them.

 

Well, what if there was the option to take Semaglutide as a tablet?

 

Let’s take a look at the pill form of Semaglutide and whether it could be more suitable for you than injections.


Is there a pill form of Semaglutide?

 

Yes, Semaglutide pills are available, but they are currently only licensed for type 2 diabetes

 

Semaglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that is usually given in the form of a weekly injection, also known as Wegovy (for weight loss) or Ozempic (for type 2 diabetes).



However, since April 2020, it has also been available in a daily tablet form under the brand name Rybelsus.



Whilst Semaglutide injections have been available for several years, the tablet form has only been around for around 2 years.



It is the first of its kind and is given to patients with type 2 diabetes to help manage their blood glucose levels.



It helps you to feel fuller and more satisfied for longer by slowing the process of food leaving your stomach after you’ve eaten, and by regulating the nerves that control energy expenditure and food preference.


What is Rybelsus?


Rybelsus is the brand name of the Semaglutide tablets that have been licensed as a type 2 diabetes treatment.

 

They work in the same way as Semaglutide injections, as they both contain the same active ingredient.

 

Semaglutide is different to other weight loss tablets such as Orlistat or Xenical, as it doesn’t work on dietary fat, but instead, it reduces your appetite and therefore the number of calories that you consume.



In turn, your portion sizes should decrease naturally, and you should start to notice some weight loss due to a decrease in food consumption.



Like Semaglutide injections, Rybelsus is a prescription medicine, and can only be prescribed to you if a doctor or consultant believes that it is appropriate to help you manage your blood sugar levels or to help you with weight loss.



Rybelsus differs from other Semaglutide treatments in two key ways — it isn’t an injection and it’s taken daily rather than weekly.



This may suit some patients who either can’t take an injection, or feel as though a daily tablet would suit their own routine better.

 

Can you take Wegovy in tablet form?

 

This is a tricky question, although Rybelsus contains the same active ingredient as Wegovy, they technically aren’t licensed for the same thing.

 

Wegovy is licensed for use as a weight management treatment whereas Rybelsus and Ozempic are both licensed for use in type 2 diabetes patients.

 

Of course, the medication still works in the same way as the active ingredient is still working as intended, but the licensing dictates what each medication should be used for.

 

With that being said, prescribers can use a system called off-label prescribing to provide suitable patients with a medication that could benefit them, even if it isn’t licensed for that purpose.

 

This means that Semaglutide tablets could technically be prescribed as a weight management treatment, but this will only be done at the discretion of a qualified and responsible prescriber.

 

How do you take oral Semaglutide?

 

Rybelsus comes in 3mg, 7mg, and 14mg tablets and is generally taken once daily, often under the supervision of a doctor or consultant.

 

These tablets should be taken on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before you eat or drink.



It should be swallowed whole with a small amount of water – no more than 120ml.



Some people choose to take Rybelsus as soon as they wake up and before they start their daily routine.



This is one of the best times to take Rybelsus due to the fact that you won’t have eaten anything yet so your stomach should be empty.



You should take Rybelsus at the same time each day for it to be most effective.



If your morning routine doesn’t allow you to wait 30 minutes before eating, you may want to consider adjusting the time you wake up so you can take Rybelsus properly.



Alternatively, you may want to set an alarm at least 30 minutes before you’re due to have breakfast so you can take your tablet then without disrupting your morning routine.


Should I eat before taking Rybelsus?


Unlike Semaglutide injections which can be taken at any time on a weekly basis and do not need to be before or after a meal, Rybelsus must be taken on an empty stomach, so you should avoid eating before Rybelsus whenever possible.



Most people choose to take it first thing in the morning before they start their routine, which should give the medication enough time to absorb before you sit down for breakfast.



It’s advised to wait at least 30 minutes after taking Rybelsus before you eat, drink, or take any other medications that you might be on.



Not waiting 30 minutes could mean that the Semaglutide won’t be absorbed as well by the body, and may not be as effective.

 


Now you know a lot more about the Semaglutide tablets, Rybelsus, and what they can be used for.

 

If you want to learn more about GLP-1 receptor agonists and weight loss treatments, why not take a look at some of our other articles?

 

Who knows what you may learn next?

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