When the weight-loss drug Wegovy was first approved for use in the UK it was done so under the proviso that it would only be available in specialist weight management centres based in hospitals. But now, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has suggested the drug could be made available outside of these hospitals, which means it could reach hundreds, rather than tens, of thousands of people.
Wegovy is the brand name for an injectable prescription drug, which reportedly has helped adults living with weight issues lose 15% of their bodyweight when used alongside diet, exercise and behavioural interventions.
In order to test how sensible his plan is, Sunak has ordered a £40 million pilot be undertaken, which would determine whether the drugs can be prescribed outside of hospitals – by expanding the specialist weight management services to potentially include local GP surgeries.
‘Obesity puts huge pressure on the NHS,’ Sunak said, as reported by The Telegraph. ‘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.’
Before Sunak increases the supply of Wegovy, the drug's manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, has said it is already dealing with supply issues. Unprecedented demand for Wegovy, which has been hyped as a wonder obesity drug, means that large quantities of the injectable may not be available for months.
You can find out more about Wegovy, as well as another weight-loss drug, Ozempic, and the biological medicine that they belong to, semaglitude, in our deep dive.
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