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NICE conditionally recommends four apps to support weight management

Weight loss drugs could be prescribed via digital platforms to help support patients with weight-related co-morbidities, NICE has said in new draft guidance.

Four different platforms – Liva, Oviva, Roczen and Second Nature – could be accessed via apps or computers to help deliver specialist weight management services in England, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) revealed in draft guidance released on Tuesday (August 15).

Some of the apps will be able to prescribe specialist weight management medication such as Wegovy (semaglutide ) – which is yet to launch in the UK – or Saxenda (liraglutide) to eligible patients, it said.

Read more: There’s an app for that: Can technology bring pharmacists closer to patients?

However, it stressed that these medicines “must be delivered alongside a package of care alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity in adults”.

Meanwhile, the other apps will “collect and share data about weight medication use with an NHS team to support weight-management medication prescribing”, while also monitoring patients’ diet and exercise, it added.

NICE said that the digital platforms will be supported by a “multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals”, offering users psychological support and monitoring to reduce the risk of eating disorders and mental health issues.

 

Eligibility

 

Patients referred to these services will be clinically assessed before starting treatment and must meet certain criteria, including having at least one weight-related co-morbidity such as diabetes, high blood pressure or a high body mass index (BMI), NICE said.

It said that using the digital platforms would be beneficial for service users who “cannot or do not wish to travel for appointments, and those who are happy to be treated virtually”.

Read more: How can artificial intelligence help community pharmacists?

While Liva is currently available to be deployed by the NHS, Oviva, Roczen and Second Nature have yet to get the “appropriate” approval from NHS England (NHSE), NICE said.

However, it noted that “early evidence” pointed to users of these digital platforms losing a “similar” amount of weight over a two-year period to those using face-to-face specialist weight management services.

 

Keeping up with demand

 

NICE’s interim director of medical technology and digital evaluation Mark Chapman said that “traditional face-to-face” weight management services were “unable to keep up with demand”.

“Waiting lists are long, some areas don’t have a service, and patients need a solution,” he added.

Evidence will be gathered on the platforms’ long-term cost effectiveness over the next four years, with an independent committee set to review the findings and “produce new guidance”, NICE said.

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

It added that while “early results from the economic modelling show that the technologies could be cost effective…the results are uncertain”.

Oviva’s chief clinical officer Lucy Jones said the company was "delighted with NICE's recommendation", stressing that remote and digital services could "support more people living with obesity within the same fixed budget".

consultation on the guidance is now live, and the public can submit their comments by next Friday (August 25), NICE said.

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