A two-year pilot worth £40 million will aim to make drug therapy more available to people living with obesity, the Government announced today.
In an attempt to cut NHS waiting times, the pilot will improve accessibility to the newest and most effective obesity drugs outside of hospital settings.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently approved the use of Semaglutide (Wegovy) for adults with a BMI of at least 35 and one weight-related health condition.
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Health minister Neil O’Brien commented: ‘Expanding how to access these innovative new drugs will ensure as many eligible patients as possible have the opportunity to try these treatments if they are right for them to help achieve a healthier weight.
‘These pilots build on our ongoing work to tackle obesity, including introducing calorie labelling on menus to empower people to make informed decisions and investing in school sport to give children an active start in life.’
The pilot will explore how approved drugs can be made safely available to people by expanding weight management services outside of hospital.
This will include looking at how GPs could prescribe weight loss drugs as well as increasing support given in the community.
‘Pharmaceutical treatments offer a new way of helping people with obesity gain a healthier weight and this new pilot will help determine if these medicines can be used safely and effectively in non-hospital settings as well as a rang of other interventions we have in place,’ said NHS medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis.
NICE is also currently considering the NHS use of another drug called Tirzepatide which is currently used to treat diabetes but may also help with weight loss if it receives a licence for this in the coming months.