12.4million adults in the UK are said to be obese, which means having a BMI of 30 or above, and another 1.3million said to be morbidly obese – with that information, it seems that thousands of people might be eligible for a weight loss drug through the NHS that’s been approved by a watchdog.
Obesity can be physically debilitating and costs the NHS around £6.1billion according to Government estimates – and the new weekly injection trial has delivered positive results with The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which say people drop 12% of their weight on average after 68 weeks.
It’s issued a guidance draft that recommends semaglutide for adults with at least one weight-related condition like obstructive sleep apnoea or heart disease and a BMI of at least 35.
The injection, which is done by the patient themselves via a pen injector, suppresses your appetite by mimicking the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that’s released after eating. In other words, it makes you feel more full.
Programme director in the centre for health technology evaluation at Nice, Helen Knight, 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.”
Professor Rachel Batterham, an obesity expert at University College London who co-authored the study, said “No other drug has come close to producing this level of weight loss – this really is a gamechanger.
“For the first time, people can achieve through drugs what was only possible through weight-loss surgery.”
Patients will only be given semaglutide as part of a specialist weight management service which involves input from several professionals, and for a maximum of two years. The trials showed that people lost more weight with supervised weight loss and semaglutide than alone.
It’s seen as “a gamechanger” by experts who says for the first time people could achieve through drugs what was only previously possible through weight-loss surgery.