Drugs: Obesity, weight-loss pills launching soon in Britian

Drugs: Obesity, weight-loss pills launching soon in Britian

The British government will launch a pilot programme to explore how new injectable weight-loss drugs such as Novo Nordisk’s (NOVOb.CO) Wegovy can be given to obese patients outside of specialist services in hospitals, it said on Wednesday.

The 40 million pound ($50 million) pilot programme follows a move by the country’s drug cost-effectiveness watchdog NICE in March to make the weekly shot available to adults with at least one weight-related condition and a body mass index of 35, but only within the state National Health Service’s (NHS) specialist weight management scheme.

British Prime Minister Sunak said the scheme for the new drugs for weight loss and fighting obesity-related diseases would reduce pressure on hospitals.

It would also support “people to live healthier and longer lives, and helping to deliver on my priority to cut NHS waiting lists”.

The NHS endured a tough winter in England in particular, with waiting lists hitting record highs and staff striking for higher pay amid double-digit inflation.

The government said that NICE, short for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, was also considering potential NHS use of Eli Lilly’s (LLY.N) Mounjaro, also known as tirzepatide, currently licensed to treat diabetes but expected to win approval to treat obesity as well.

The two-year pilot will look at how general practitioners could safely prescribe these drugs and how the NHS could provide support in the community or digitally, it said.

The timing of Wegovy’s launch in Britain is uncertain, however, after Novo last month rationed starter doses to secure supply to U.S. patients already on the regimen, after it was overwhelmed by demand there.

The company at the time would not confirm initial plans to launch in other markets including Britain and elsewhere in Europe this year.

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