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DH and MHRA ban wholesalers from exporting or hoarding semaglutide

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have included semaglutide on the list of medications that wholesalers are prevented from exporting or hoarding.

As of Saturday (June 17), wholesale dealer licence holders cannot export or hoard semaglutide in all strengths and in tablet, solution for injection and solution for infusion form from the UK. 

The DH and the MHRA added the medication to their regularly updated ‘list of medicines that cannot be exported from the UK or hoarded', which they use to identify products that “are needed for UK patients”.

They defined the “hoarding” of medicines as “when wholesale dealers withhold a medicine when it’s in short supply”.

Read more: Wholesalers banned from exporting or hoarding progesterone

The DH and MHRA add medicines to the list if there is “evidence of a critical shortage” or they are at “risk of being in shortage”, according to DH guidance.

Medicines are also added to the list if their export might “contribute to a shortage or risk of shortage of that medicine in the UK”, it said.

A wholesaler found by the MHRA to have hoarded or exported a restricted medicine could face the “immediate suspension” of their wholesale dealer licence, according to the DH.

Read more: Wholesalers blocked from exporting or hoarding two flu drugs as cases rise

The updated list of medicines also includes all strengths of Dulaglutide solution for injection, Exenatide solution for injection in all strengths, Liraglutide 6mg/ml solution for injection and Insulin degludec + Liraglutide 100units/ml + 3.6mg/ml solution for injection.

It comes as the government has said that it will launch a £40-million two-year obesity pilot that could see community pharmacies dispense semaglutide drug Wegovy.

The DH this month (June 7) announced that a two-year pilot backed by “up to” £40m will “explore ways to make obesity drugs accessible to patients outside of hospital settings”.

Read more: Wegovy: DH to consider pharmacy role in £40m two-year obesity pilot

It follows the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommending semaglutide for adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of a minimum of 35 and one weight-related health condition such as diabetes or hypertension in March.

NICE advised that Wegovy should only be available via specialist weight management services, which are largely hospital based, meaning that “only around 35,000 people would have access” to it “when tens of thousands more could be eligible”, the DH said.

It added that the new pilot will look at how “approved” drugs can be “made safely available to more people by expanding specialist weight management services” outside of hospitals.

Read more: DH bans wholesalers from exporting or ‘hoarding’ strep A antibiotics

The DH told C+D on June 8 that NHS England (NHSE) and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) will work with stakeholders including in primary care to design the pilot, including considering the potential role of community pharmacy.

Wegovy (semaglutide 2.4mg) is not currently available in the UK, according to its manufacturer Novo Nordisk.

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