<> <> <>
Health Hub

Is Mounjaro available in the UK?

And, where can you access it?

Is Mounjaro Available in the UK and How Can You Access It? | Juniper

If you’re ready to lose weight, chances are you’ve done your research. You’ll know to ditch the fast food, prioritise sleep, focus on getting those daily steps in and eating a balanced diet. But as anyone who has set out on a weight loss journey can attest, sometimes you need additional support.

When it comes to weight loss tools, you’d likely be familiar with names like Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro for their influence on appetite and blood glucose levels.

While Ozempic is licensed for diabetes treatment here in the UK, Wegovy is used for weight management and is helping people to change their lives and improve their health.

Suppose you’re not familiar with Mounjaro (tirzepatide). In that case, know that the drug has come to be hailed as a powerful weight loss medication as it serves two functions: a GLP-1 receptor agonist and a glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) mimetic.

It might sound like a mouthful, but it basically means the drug works to lower blood sugar levels, decrease appetite, and prevent fat from being stored in the liver or pancreas. 

Currently, Mounjaro has only been approved in the UK to treat type 2 diabetes and could be available for prescription by early 2024. However, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is reviewing the medication to see if it could be used by those living with obesity as a weight loss treatment.

So, is it hard to get Mounjaro in the UK? And if so, where is it available? 

How does Mounjaro work?

Mounjaro is the brand name for the active ingredient tirzepatide and is manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. Unlike drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic, it's the first medication that imitates 2 different hormones that can reduce blood sugar: GLP-1 and GIP.

These hormones are produced by specialised cells in your large and small intestines. After eating a meal, your body releases these hormones to combat rising levels of blood glucose. Both GLP-1 and GIP act on the pancreas to increase insulin production, which lowers blood sugar.

It’s thought that being unable to regulate glucose levels after meals is a cause of type 2 diabetes, which is why these medications have come to be prescribed for those with the condition, alongside diet and regular exercise. With a once-weekly injection, Mounjaro can help people with type 2 diabetes control and manage high blood sugar levels. 

GLP-1 also increases the time it takes to empty the stomach, meaning your blood sugar levels are less likely to spike. As a result, people taking Mounjaro report feeling fuller for longer, which can also help with weight loss due to reduced appetite. It also helps fat cells 'absorb' more excess energy, preventing fat from being stored in the liver or pancreas.

GLP-1 and GIP are produced naturally in the body, but their effects only last around 2 minutes. Instead, tirzepatide has modified the structure of the hormones so that they degrade slowly, lasting around 5 days.

As a result, Mounjaro only needs to be administered via weekly injection and patients typically start on a 2.5mg dose once per week for 4 weeks.

According to a 2022 clinical trial of over 2,500 adults with a BMI of 27 or higher, over the course of 72 weeks, participants lose between 15% and nearly 21% of their body weight. Participants who took a higher dose of Mounjaro lost more weight [1].

It’s believed that as your body adjusts to the weekly injection, you have greater control in sticking to a diet and making the lifestyle changes required for sustainable weight loss.

Are there any side effects when taking Mounjaro?

Like any drug, there are side effects and each person will respond to the drug differently. For Mounjaro, the most common side effects reported are nausea, diarrhoea, a decreased appetite, vomiting, constipation and indigestion due to the medication’s impact on the digestive system [2].

Mounjaro also comes with a boxed warning, which refers to the most serious warning the FDA offers. They suggest using Mounjaro may increase your risk of developing thyroid cancer. For those with a family member or history of any kind of thyroid cancer, doctors are unlikely to prescribe the medication.

For those who suffer eye problems related to high blood sugar, like the condition of diabetic retinopathy, it's suggested that using Mounjaro could make it worse. The risk is higher when starting the medication and when the dose is increased.

Is Mounjaro available for weight loss?

Unfortunately, Mounjaro isn’t available in the UK as a weight loss injection. However, given the recent popularity of medications like Wegovy, which has already been approved and is available on the NHS, there is some indication that it may be made available in the near future. 

The drug’s manufacturer, Eli Lilly, is hoping for approval to use Mounjaro as an obesity treatment in the US. Should it be successful overseas, it’s likely the UK could follow suit, particularly if the awareness and benefits of the drug continue to gain popularity. 

Currently, the only weight loss injections available in the UK are semaglutide (Wegovy) and liraglutide (Saxenda).

Here at Juniper, our Weight Reset Programme combines lifestyle coaching and guidance from dietitians with a personalised dose of the weight loss drug Wegovy for those who are aged between 18 and 75 and meet our strict eligibility criteria.

Is Mounjaro available on the NHS?

As a medication for type 2 diabetes, Mounjaro has been approved for patients in the UK [3]. Though currently pending available supply and final guidelines from NICE, it will soon be covered by the country’s National Health Service (NHS).

In order to receive a tizepatide prescription via the NHS in the UK, here are the eligibility criteria you need to meet as confirmed by NICE:

  • Triple therapy with metformin and two other oral antidiabetic drugs is ineffective, not tolerated or contraindicated.
  • You have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 kg/m2 or more and specific psychological or other medical problems associated with obesity. 
  • Or you have a BMI of less than 35 kg/m2 and insulin therapy would have significant occupational implications, or weight loss would benefit other significant obesity-related complications. Lower BMI thresholds apply for people from South Asian, Chinese, other Asian, Middle Eastern, Black African or African-Caribbean family backgrounds. 

However, as a weight loss treatment, Mounjaro is currently unavailable. NICE is reviewing the use of tirzepatide for people living with obesity as a new medication and, should it be approved, it may have similar rules as drugs like Wegovy regarding its use on the NHS. 

Under the NHS guidelines, patients can only be prescribed Wegovy if they have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, or a BMI of more than 27 and at least one weight-related illness. They must also commit to dieting and an exercise plan.

Mounjaro availability in the UK: Where to buy it

In short, Mounjaro isn’t available as a weight loss treatment in the UK but we'll keep you updated on the availability and cost of Mounjaro. While you can't buy Mounjaro in the UK just yet, there are other options.

It’s important to remember that there’s no magic pill for weight loss and the process involves more than just diet and exercise. If you want the kind of support and guidance that ensures you are supported every step of the way, Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme does just that. 

Juniper takes a medical approach to weight loss that has seen the average person lose over 13% of their body weight in one year. The key is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to losing weight. Rather, each programme is tailored to your weight loss goals. 

Designed by practitioners and dietitians, the programme uses personalised medication in the form of Wegovy. It’s similar to Mounjaro in that it helps to effectively suppress appetite and improve metabolic function. If eligible for medicated weight loss, you’ll receive access to the medication, along with digital health coaching and weight loss tracking to guide you every step of the way. 

With a private community of women to help keep you accountable to your weight loss goals, Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme is far from a quick fix.

Instead, it gives you tools that empower you to make informed decisions. By combining medication with holistic health coaching, you’ll find it easier to reach your goal weight, welcoming a healthier and happier version of yourself.