A breakthrough weight-loss drug capable of helping individuals shed up to 10% of their body weight has received approval for use by NHS Scotland. The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has given the green light for semaglutide, marketed as Wegovy, to be prescribed to patients within specialist weight loss management services. Administered through a skin injection, Wegovy functions by inducing a sensation of fullness in individuals, leading them to consume fewer calories. This recent development follows its approval for use by NHS England earlier in March.
Semaglutide, previously known under the brand name Ozempic and used to treat Type 2 diabetes since 2019, is now authorized for inclusion in weight loss regimens, coupled with dietary adjustments and exercise programs. The SMC, responsible for advising NHS Scotland regarding the suitability of newly licensed medications for patient benefit, officially released their decision on Monday.
Dr. Scott Muir, Chairman of the SMC, commented on this milestone, stating, “This has been a record-breaking month for SMC in terms of the number of medicines that we have been able to accept for use in the NHS in Scotland. Obesity is a serious public health issue in Scotland. Used alongside a weight management program including diet and exercise, semaglutide (Wegovy) could assist carefully selected patients in their weight loss journey.”
Recent findings from the 2021 Scottish Health Survey, published in November, revealed that 30% of adults were grappling with obesity, with an additional 4% classified as morbidly obese. Dubbed the “skinny jab,” this drug is already prevalent in the United States and endorsed by numerous celebrities. Nevertheless, soaring private demand has caused constraints in global supplies.
Experts emphasize that these injections are not a quick fix nor a substitute for adopting a healthy lifestyle involving a balanced diet and regular exercise. Clinical trials have indicated that individuals often regain weight after discontinuing the treatment. Although semaglutide has been available in pharmacies for weight loss privately under different brand names since last year, its official approval for NHS Scotland marks a significant step forward in addressing the pressing issue of obesity in the country.