NHS patients will miss out on the game-changing Wegovy slimming vaccine as private providers are being given priority over the health service, doctors have warned.
It was announced on Monday that Britons would now be able to access Wegovy through the NHS’s specialist weight check services, as part of a “limited and controlled release”.
When fully implemented, it could help up to 50,000 patients lose weight, according to the health service.
But Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical giant behind the “miracle” drug, has already admitted that only a “proportion” of its already limited stock will be shared with the health service and the rest will be allocated to private companies.
Experts criticized the move, arguing that it “does not make sense” and will leave those most in need without access to Wegovy.
It was announced on Monday that Britons would now be able to access Wegovy through specialist health services weight management services, as part of a “limited and controlled rollout”.
When fully implemented, it could help up to 50,000 patients lose weight, according to the NHS. But Wegovy’s maker, Novo Nordisk, has already admitted that only a “proportion” of its already limited stock will be shared with the health service. The rest will be allocated to private companies. Pictured, Simple Online Pharmacy unpacks Wegovy stock at their Glasgow headquarters yesterday
Professor Naveed Sattar, a consultant in metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, said he was “not comfortable” with Wegovy being made privately available.
He added: “It just doesn’t make sense to me because there is a substantial need in the NHS.” Why wouldn’t we pass all that (supply) through the NHS?
Professor Richard Holt, an expert in diabetes and endocrinology at the University of Southampton, said: “The use of private providers will almost certainly mean that some of those who need the drug most will not be able to get it.”
Semaglutide and liraglutide, the powerful ingredients behind Wegovy, Ozempic and Saxenda, have ushered in a new era in the war on obesity.
The treatments stimulate weight loss by mimicking the actions of a hormone released in the gut after eating, called GLP-1.
In addition to signaling the pancreas to produce more insulin, the GLP-1 hormone feeds back to the brain, making users feel full.
But these drugs are not without side effects.
Users often complain of nausea, constipation, and diarrhea after taking the drug.
Wegovy was approved as a drug specifically for weight loss in the US in 2021.
This year it was given the green light in Britain for the same reason.
After its launch on Monday, the NHS confirmed that only Britons with a body mass index (BMI) over 30, or a BMI over 27 and at least one weight-related comorbidity, are eligible, and patients too. they must commit to diet and exercise plans.
On the NHS, Wegovy costs the standard prescription fee of £9.65.
METERNeither will pay the prescription charge because eligibility for the drug includes co-morbidity, according to the NHS.
But the vaccine could cost between £199 and £299 for those with private insurance or paying out of pocket.
Ozempic, the other brand name version of semaglutide that also promotes weight loss, is available only for people with type 2 diabetes.
Last month, a major shortage at Wegovy due to increased demand delayed the £40m pilot scheme.
The National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE), which publishes health guidelines, has advised that patients should only use Wegovy for a “maximum” of two years.
This despite experts saying people will need to take the drug for life.
Novo Nordisk still said it it expects the supply of the drug to be “limited for the foreseeable future.”
As a result, only a “proportion” has been allocated to NHS services.
Despite being hailed as one of the most powerful pharmaceutical tools to date, experts have warned that it is not a “magic pill” or a silver bullet for everything. Trials have shown that users can quickly gain weight back once they stop taking the drug and this can trigger a variety of unpleasant side effects. Users often complain of nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.
Wegovy and Ozempic, which contain semaglutide, work by causing the body to produce a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1 that is released naturally from the intestines after meals.
Tens of thousands have already joined the waiting lists of pharmacies that receive stocks from Wegovy to sell through online medical services.
These include Superdrug, which said more than 20,000 have registered interest and will be contacted in the order they registered interest.
Wegovy’s monthly supply will cost between £195 and £295 at Superdrug.
Boots Online Doctor said Wegovy’s prescriptions will initially only be available to patients already using its weight-loss treatment service, with prices starting at £199 a month.
Private online weight management clinic Juniper also confirmed on Monday that it will provide Wegovy privately.
He said he will prioritize supply as it becomes available to those on his waiting list.
UK-based Simple Online Pharmacy also revealed that more than 50,000 people had registered interest in Wegovy on its website.
He confirmed that the drug would cost between £199 and £299 a month.
It comes as pharmacists have already warned people not to buy weight-loss vaccines online, such as Wegovy, for fear they could cause serious harm and “damage important organs”.
Ads selling “weight loss pens” and “weight loss shots” have flooded social media in response to huge demand from Britons.
A UK study found that people using Wegovy experienced rapid weight loss, losing 18% of their weight in 68 weeks. They regained two-thirds of that weight, or 12% of their original body weight, in the year after stopping the weekly injections.
Facebook Marketplace sellers are making weight-loss vaccines available without a prescription. A vendor displays a picture of a fridge full of medicines and lists weight loss doses for £130, pictured left. Another vendor mentions semaglutide, a drug found in both Ozempic and Wegovy, in the photo to the right.
MailOnline found several ads on Facebook Marketplace selling weight-loss injections that claimed to contain semaglutide, the ingredient in both Wegovy and its sister drug Ozempic.
One seller listed Ozempic for £150, another shows a picture of a fridge full of weight-loss medicine listing ‘weight-loss pens’ for £130 and another sells a ‘loss-loss kit’ for £185.
Online private pharmacies list Ozempic for between £150 and £170, to buy on prescription.
The growing obesity epidemic in the UK has been blamed on a lack of exercise, combined with unhealthy diets.
The latest NHS data shows that 26 percent of adults in England are obese and another 38 percent are overweight but not obese.
A landmark study published in May also revealed that the UK’s bulging waistline is taking billions of pounds each year from the cash-strapped NHS, with twice as much being spent on obese patients than those of a healthy weight.
Costs per patient rise dramatically the more people weigh, as they “accumulate with obesity-related conditions” such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease, according to research involving nearly 2.5 million people.