Wegovy: GPs to offer weight-loss jab to NHS patients - what it is and side effects

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Wegovy is a weight loss jab which suppresses people’s appetite and mimics a gut hormone that allows you to stay fuller for longer

GPs across England may start to offer weight loss jabs to some patients in a bid to reduce obesity-related illnesses. Wegovy was approved for use by the NHS after research suggested users could shed 10 percent of their body weight.

The drug suppresses the appetite of people that use it, meaning people feel more full and eat less. Rishi Sunak branded the jab as a ‘game changer’ as he announced a £40 million pilot scheme to allow for more access to specialist weight management services.

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However, the move has been met with criticism by experts who warn that ‘skinny jabs’ are not a quick fix or substitute for healthy diet and exercise. Trials found that people put weight back on after the treatment stopped.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the NHS drugs watchdog, says patients will have access to Wegovy for up to two years via specialist weight-management services.

These services are mostly hospital-based, meaning only 35,000 currently have access but the government claims tens of thousands more could be eligible. However, the UK has no supply of the drug yet.

Mr Sunak said: "Obesity puts huge pressure on the NHS. 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."

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Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: "We recognise it’s often a real challenge for people to lose weight or keep the weight off, and that’s why we’re embracing the latest medication and making sure the NHS is at the front of the queue."

It’s estimated that around 12 million adults in England are obese.

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What is Wegovy?

Wegovy is a weight loss drug manufactured by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. NICE recommends that it is only ‘prescribed to people who have a particular BMI (usually 30kg/m2 and over) and at least one weight-related health condition.’

It mimics the action of a gut hormone GLP-1, which is released after eating and slows down the movement of food in your gut so you stay full for longer, eating less.  As with any medication, Wegovy also has side effects. The most common are nausea or an upset stomach, bloating and gas.

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