Pharmacies pioneer private Wegovy service as drug sees UK launch
Pharmacies look set to pioneer the private provision of obesity drug Wegovy as it launches in the UK today.
Weight loss drug Wegovy is available in the UK from today (September 4) in a “controlled and limited launch”, its manufacturer Novo Nordisk has announced.
The semaglutide injection can be accessed by eligible patients in specialist NHS weight management services and privately though “a registered healthcare professional”, the manufacturer said today.
Novo Nordisk said that “a proportion” of the medicine has been ringfenced for NHS use only as it expects that supply of the drug will be “constrained for the foreseeable future”.
Pharmadoctor, which provides pharmacy-based clinical service packages, also announced today that Wegovy is now available as a treatment option in its private weight management service.
Pharmacies “first” to deliver
Pharmadoctor’s weight loss service is available for authorised pharmacies for £499 excluding VAT, according to its website.
Announcing the launch of Wegovy within its weight management service, Pharmadoctor said that more than 600 community pharmacists in the UK already use the service, which launched in 2022.
It claimed that its “partner pharmacies” are the “first private UK service providers” to offer Wegovy to patients in an in-person clinical setting.
Pharmadoctor’s service allows community pharmacists to privately provide weight-loss advice and prescription medicines that “are not readily available on the NHS”, such as Saxenda and Mysimba, it added.
Pharmadoctor’s weight management “eTool” is sponsored by Novo Nordisk but the manufacturer has had “no influence” over the tool, the patient group direction (PGD) provider said.
The tool allows pharmacists to cross reference a patient’s medical history against the PGD and the medicine’s Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC), among other features, according to Pharmadoctor's website.
NICE to know
Last month (August 15), the National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE) issued draft guidance recommending that weight loss drugs including Wegovy could be prescribed via digital platforms to help support patients with weight-related co-morbidities.
NICE said at the time that the weight loss medicines “must be delivered alongside a package of care alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity in adults”.
In June, semaglutide’s popularity led the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to include the drug on the list of medications that wholesalers are prevented from exporting or hoarding.
Earlier that month, the DH announced that it would launch a two-year pilot backed by “up to” £40 million that would “explore ways to make obesity drugs accessible to patients outside of hospital settings”.
The announcement came as NICE recommended Wegovy 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.
The DH told C+D at the time of the pilot announcement that NHS England (NHSE) and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) would be considering the potential role of community pharmacy in its pilot design.