A weight loss drug which is favoured by many celebrities will be made available on the NHS to certain people living with obesity.
Health officials have announced that the appetite suppressant drug will be offered on prescription after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) gave it the thumbs up.
Thousands of people across England are expected to receive the drug, with experts describing it as a 'pivotal moment' in tackling obesity, though there have been warnings that nobody should expect a 'quick fix'.
The drug is administered as a weekly injection and studies into the effectiveness of the weight loss jab found that people saw their weight drop by an average of 12 percent over a period of 68 weeks.
Made by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, Nice has recommended the drug semaglutide (also referred to as Wegovy and Ozempic) for people with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35 and at least one weight-related health condition.
These health conditions include type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, high blood pressure, dyslipidaemia (unbalanced or unhealthy cholesterol levels), obstructive sleep apnoea and heart disease.
Nice says the drug should be used alongside a reduced-calorie diet and more physical activity, and prescriptions will only be given after approval by several experts and for a period of no more than two years.
The weekly injection suppresses a person's appetite by mimicking the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that is released after eating, making people feel full and resulting in them eating less.
Common side-effects of the weight loss jab include nausea and diarrhoea, but studies indicate potential side-effects are 'mild' and 'subsided with time'.
Helen Knight, director of medicines evaluation at Nice, said the drug was a 'welcome option' as some people
She said: "It won’t be available to everyone.
"Our committee has made specific recommendations to ensure it remains value for money for the taxpayer, and it can only be used for a maximum of two years.
"We are pleased to finally publish our final guidance on semaglutide which will mean some people will be able to access this much talked about drug on the NHS."
However, while the weight loss drug does indeed work and could be incredibly helpful for some there are concerns over the potential misuse of it.
Tom Quinn, director of external affairs for the charity Beat, raised concerns about the impact a viable weight loss drug could have for people with eating disorders.
He said: "Weight-loss medications like semaglutide can be extremely attractive to people with eating disorders as they appear to provide quick results.
"However, these medications can be very dangerous as they can worsen harmful thoughts and behaviours for those unwell, or contribute to an eating disorder developing for someone who is already vulnerable."
The drug is favoured by a number of celebrities, with Elon Musk claiming it's part of the reason he's able to stay in shape while Jeremy Clarkson was glowing with praise after he tried semaglutide.
A spokesperson for Novo Nordisk said they were 'working to make Wegovy available in the UK as soon as possible'.
Featured Image Credit: Aldar Darmaev / Alamy Lankowsky / Alamy
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