NHS to start prescribing weight-loss injection Wegovy for the first time - how does it work?
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A weight loss injection can now be prescribed on the NHS for the first time with a limited supply being made available as part of a “controlled and limited launch”. Wegovy, also known as semaglutide, will be prescribed via specialist NHS weight management services and will go alongside a reduced calorie diet and exercise.
To be eligible for the injection, patients should have a body mass index (BMI) over 30 and at least one weight-related co-morbidity. According to guidance, the drug should be used for a “maximum” of two years. It comes after the National Institute for Care and Excellence (Nice) gave Wegovy the green light for NHS use earlier this year.
Novo Nordisk, the drug’s manufacturer, said it believes the launch of the drug in the UK “will help provide an additional option to support people living with obesity”. Rishi Sunak said the drug could be a “game-changer”.
He said: “Obesity puts huge pressure on the NHS. Using the latest drugs to support people to lose weight will be a game-changer by helping to tackle dangerous obesity-related health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer - reducing pressure on hospitals, supporting people to live healthier and longer lives, and helping to deliver on my priority to cut NHS waiting lists.”
Novo Nordisk has since confirmed Wegovy is in short supply and said it expects it “to be constrained for the foreseeable future”.
An NHS spokesperson said: “Despite global supply constraints, NHS England is taking action to begin implementing Nice guidance for weight management, while at the same time working to restore supplies of this class of drug for people with type 2 diabetes.
“Around 50,000 eligible patients in England could be prescribed Wegovy through NHS specialist weight management services that are able to provide appropriate multidisciplinary care.”
Wegovy weight loss jab: How does it work?
Wegovy can lead to weight loss because it is designed to suppress appetite so you eat less. It works by mimicking the action of a gut hormone called GLP-1, which is released after eating, and it slows down the movement of food in your gut so you stay full for longer.