The NHS will inject obese Brits with a “game-changing” fat-busting drug called Wegovy, which is prescribed as a weekly jab to suppress appetite
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Obese Brits will be given a “game changing” new fat-busting injection on the NHS.
A watchdog has ruled the drug called Wegovy can be prescribed as a weekly jab to suppress the appetite.
Trials have found it was as effective as a gastric band with an average weight loss of almost 2.5 stone.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said trial participants saw their weight drop by 12% on average after 68 weeks.
Nice has issued draft guidance recommending the jab, also known as semaglutide, for adults with at least one weight-related condition and a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35.
Conditions include high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, obstructive sleep apnoea and heart disease.
Helen Knight, program director at Nice, said: “We know that management of overweight and obesity is one of the biggest challenges our health service is facing, with nearly two-thirds of adults either overweight or obese.
“It is a lifelong condition that needs medical intervention, has psychological and physical effects, and can affect quality of life.”
The injection, manufactured by Novo Nordisk, will be offered alongside changes in dietary and exercise habits.
The drug works by hijacking the body’s appetite regulating system in the brain, leading to reduced hunger and calorie intake.
It mimics the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that is released after eating, making patients feel full faster.
Research last year found that those put on the regimen lost five times as much weight as those in the placebo group.
Britain has some of the worst rates of obesity in the Western world.
The 2019 Health Survey for England estimated that 28% of adults in England were obese and a further 36% were overweight.
The knock on health impacts cost the NHS and wider economy billions of pounds a year.
NICE guidance is only officially for England but is usually accepted by returned administrations for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
People will only be given semaglutide on prescription as part of a specialist weight management service involving input from several professionals, and for a maximum of two years.
Prof Rachel Batterham, of University College London, who was involved in researching the drug, told the Telegraph: “No other drug has come close to producing this level of weight loss – this really is a game changer.
“For the first time, people can achieve through drugs what was only possible through weight-loss surgery.”
People with a BMI of between 25 and 29.9 are in the overweight range, while between 30 and 39.9 is considered obese.
In some cases, those with a BMI of 30 may be able to access the drug, which is given via a pen injector.
Nice said anyone from a south Asian, Chinese, and black African or Caribbean background will also be able to access the drug at a lower BMI and can be advised by a medic.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.