A weight-loss drug will soon be available on prescription to people in specialist NHS services.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have recommended the use of semaglutide, also called Wegovy, to people with at least one weight-related comorbidity, to help them lose weight.
Semaglutide can help a person reduce their weight by more than 10% when used alongside a reduced-calorie deficit diet and increased physical activity.
Helen Knight director of medicines evaluation at NICE said: ‘For some people losing weight is a real challenge which is why a medicine like semaglutide is a welcome option.
‘It won’t be available to everyone. Our committee has made specific recommendations to ensure it remains value for money for the taxpayer, and it can only be used for a maximum of two years.’
The drug will be available to people who have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35kg/m2 and have at least one weight-related comorbidity.
These include; dysglycaemia, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, obstructive sleep apnoea or cardiovascular disease.
Patients inject themselves once a week with pens pre-filled with semaglutide, this suppresses their appetite by mimicking the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is usually released after eating.
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Director at Diabetes UK, Simon O’Neill welcomed the news saying: ‘Supporting people to lose weight is key to preventing type 2 diabetes and, for those with a recent diagnosis, to putting the condition into remission.
‘Drugs such as Wegovy are an important and valid weight management tool for those living with and at risk of type 2 diabetes, and it is our view that people should be supported to find the approach that is most appropriate for them’
The drug will be available to NHS patients when the launch of the drug in England is confirmed by manufacturer Novo Nordisk.
Katharine Jenner, director of the Obesity Health Alliance also welcomed the news however pointed out that drugs alone will not be the answer to the UK’s high levels of excess weight.
‘We need to take action to ensure that as few people as possible reach the stage of needing pharmaceutical or surgical interventions. It is essential that we tackle the root cause of obesity, such as the flood of unhealthy food and drink that is constantly marketed and promoted to us, so we are not treating people and then sending them back into the conditions that made them sick.
‘This government can turn the tide on obesity, but to do that they cannot rely on drug treatment alone, and must make it easier, cheaper and more appealing to buy healthier food and drinks, and to help people especially children, reach and maintain healthy weight for life.’