Home Health and Fitness Weight-loss drugs pilot to begin in UK amid uncertainty over Wegovy launch

Weight-loss drugs pilot to begin in UK amid uncertainty over Wegovy launch

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  • The prime minister said the scheme aims to reduce wait times for obese people
  • £40m pilot underway amid uncertainty over Wegovy launch in UK
  • Only 35,000 have limited access to drugs through professional services
  • Pilot will also involve general practitioners to test broader access

June 7 (Reuters) – Britain pilot The program demonstrates how new weekly weight-loss shots like Novo Nordisk’s (NOVOb.CO) Wegobee can be administered to obese patients by general practitioners, despite the drug’s market launch still uncertain. We are investigating whether

A government announcement of a £40million ($50m) trial program by NICE, which monitors the cost-effectiveness of the drug, recommended Wegovy’s use in March for adults with at least one weight-related condition and a BMI of 35. was done later. Only within the National Health Service (NHS) professional weight management scheme.

However, the UK, which will be the fourth country to use Wegovy, has been forced to reduce its starting dose to ensure supply to US patients already on the regimen after Novo was overwhelmed by demand in the UK last month. , so the timing of Wegovy’s launch in the UK is unclear.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday that the pilot and the fight against obesity-related diseases could ease the strain on hospitals.

It will also “help people live healthier, longer lives and my priorities of reducing the NHS waiting list”.

In the UK, the NHS has endured a particularly harsh winter, with record waiting lists and staff striking out for pay increases amid double-digit inflation.

Obesity is one of the leading causes of serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, costing the NHS £6.5 billion a year.

The government announced that NICE, which stands for National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, is also considering the potential use of Eli Lilly’s (LLY.N) Maunjaro, also known as tilzepatide. Maunjaro is currently approved as a therapeutic drug for diabetes, and is expected to be approved as an anti-obesity drug. likewise.

A two-year trial will begin after the new weight-loss drug becomes available in the UK.


Novo’s inability to keep up with US demand for Wegovy has effectively delayed its launch in the UK and the rest of Europe. We also had to overcome production issues at our contract manufacturer.

A company spokeswoman declined to comment on the commitment to offer the program, but said there had been preliminary discussions about the role of obesity treatment as part of the UK government’s ambition to get people back into the workforce. .

Eli Lilly said its Munjaro drug, if approved, could be part of the solution.

The UK government said only 35,000 people had access to Wegovy under its specialized hospital service, but tens of thousands more could be covered.

Phil McEwan, CEO of health economics consultancy Heall in Cardiff, advises Novo on market access, but the need for professional services has been a major bottleneck. said he would.

“You have to get professional treatment, which is not easy. The challenge is getting access to reimbursement,” he said.

Strong interest in this treatment has already been shown elsewhere. Superdrugs, one of the UK’s largest pharmacy chains, said its teleprescribing service is expected to be in high demand.

“Superdrug Online Doctor had five times more registrations than expected,” a spokesperson told Reuters in April, without giving figures.

Outside the U.S., Wegobee is only available in Denmark and Norway, where the country’s major health care plans won’t pay for it, saying the health benefits don’t justify the extra budget.

Britain’s move could spur debate about whether a drug is the right solution to the growing public health problem of obesity, or whether there are other ways to encourage healthier lifestyles. .

Duane Mellor, a nutritionist and senior lecturer at Aston University School of Medicine, said drugs like Wegoby are a means, not a solution.

“It is a political decision to say that the government is doing something to address the health issues related to obesity…We are committed to looking at the root causes of access to health care and making healthy eating enjoyable. We need to be braver and bolder about

Simon Coke, senior lecturer in physiology at Anglia Ruskin University, said obesity has proven “incredibly difficult” to manage with diet and exercise alone, and drugs like Wegobee could make a big difference. rice field.

“That’s why the public is so excited and it seems the UK government is pushing to make this drug widely available,” he said.

Wegovy works by mimicking a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that makes the body feel full after eating.

Studies have shown that combined with changes in diet and exercise, it leads to an average weight loss of about 15%.

(1 dollar = 0.8051 pounds)

Additional reporting by Ludwig Berger from Frankfurt, Maggie Fick from London, Anusha S from Bengaluru and Helen Reed and Alistair Smout from London.Editing: Lincoln Feast, Mark Potter, Jane Merriman

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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