A controversial weight loss jab is set to soon be made available in the UK from a major British high-street giant in just a matter of months.
A common practice in Hollywood, semaglutide - which was first released in 2017 - was originally intended to treat weight-related issues like type 2 diabetes.
Patients began to notice that the drug not only helped with their health issues, but was also a quick and easy way to shed a few extra pounds.
Fast-forward four years and, in 2021, semaglutide was officially approved as a weight loss treatment leading to ‘off-label prescribing’.
Manufactured by Danish pharmaceutical giant, Novo Nordisk, the drug has since been rebranded into two categories - 'Ozempic' for diabetes issues and 'Wegovy' for weight loss and management.
Operating under the brand name Ozempic, the company promotes that the drug can help with a whole multitude of health concerns.
The official website reports that Ozempic is proven to lower blood sugar, lowers the risk of major cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart attack and 'may help you lose some weight'.
While the company outlines that Ozempic is 'not for weight loss', Wegovy's selling point is totally different.
Promising to help patients 'lose weight and keep it off', the two treatments slightly vary on their dosage levels.
The slimming tool packs a 2.4mg dose of semaglutide while the diabetes treatment holds just 1mg or lower.
And now, in 2023, the Mail on Sunday reports that semaglutide drug approved for weight loss is set to launch in the UK in the spring and will be sold by Boots.
A spokesperson for Boots told LADbible: “Wegovy is a prescription-only weight loss medicine that can help to regulate appetite and reduce cravings. It can be an effective medicine to achieve sustained weight loss when used alongside a reduced calorie diet, increased physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices. It will be available from Boots Online Doctor, with an anticipated launch of Spring 2023. Customers can register their interest ahead of the launch via the Boots Online Doctor platform.
“The Boots Online Doctor Weight Loss Treatment service is for customers who are worried that their weight is impacting their health. Customers will have access to treatment following their completion of an online consultation form, which will be assessed by a clinician. Those who are offered treatment will receive follow up touch points and support from the Boots Online Doctor service throughout their weight loss journey and can access advice and support from our pharmacy teams in stores.”
So, how does this weight loss drug actually work?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence explains: "Semaglutide binds to, and activates, the GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) receptor to increase insulin secretion, suppress glucagon secretion, and slow gastric emptying."
To translate the science-y jargon, the drug effectively works to suppress a user's appetite.
Through promoting insulin production, the once-weekly treatment a weekly treatment lowers patients' blood sugar levels too.
Famous users of the drug include the likes of Elon Musk alongside rumours that Kim Kardashian also hopped on the trend to fit into the infamous Marilyn Monroe gown at the 2022 Met Gala.
Variety has even gone as far to call the appetite-regulating drug 'the worst-kept secret in Hollywood' due to its celebrity user-base.
An obesity expert at University College London, Professor Rachel Batterham, explained a little more about just what the jab does to patients.
She said: "It’s the equivalent of eating a Christmas Day meal many times over — that’s the feeling you get when you take these drugs. You can’t face even looking at food."
With an average of 16 percent weight loss in just one year, the drug has been dubbed a 'game-changer' for people with severe obesity.
However, there are dangerous side-effects if not taken responsibly.
The expert explained: "If you lose that amount of weight, you lose muscle mass — and that’s really hard to get back — and you also lose bone density. And when you stop taking them, all the weight comes back on."
Due to its popularity, there are now shortages for those in real need of it.
Novo Nordisk stated that the company does not support ‘off-label prescribing’.
They said: "Patient safety is our priority. All prescriptions of our products should be in line with the approved summary of product characteristics and the therapeutic indication."
Wegovy will be available from Boots Online Doctor, with 'an anticipated launch of Spring 2023'.
Customers can register their interest ahead of the launch via the Boots Online Doctor platform.
As outlined by the Boots spokesperson, the treatment service is for customers who are 'worried that their weight is impacting their health'. Those affected will have access to treatment following their 'completion of an online consultation form'.
The form will then be assessed by a clinician and those who are offered treatment will receive 'follow up touch points' and support from the Boots Online Doctor service throughout their weight loss journey.