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When will Wegovy be available in the UK?

The highly promised weight loss drug launched in the UK on September 4, 2023

When Will Wegovy Be Available In the UK? | Juniper

The combination of nutrition, regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle is important when on a weight loss journey — but, it's not always enough to move the needle. And, this may have you considering weight loss medication as a way to help kickstart weight loss.

One medication that is top of mind at the moment is Wegovy — this weight-loss injection has been shown to deliver positive results when it comes to helping patients lose weight and reach their ideal body weight. Some high street pharmacies have promised they will be prescribing the drug when it's in market.

With this in mind, let's look at how this weight loss drug works, how to access it and when to expect its release in the UK.

When will Wegovy be available in the UK?

As of September 4, 2023, Wegovy is available in the UK.

While other weight loss medicines containing semaglutide, like Ozempic, have been available since January 2019, Wegovy was not available in the UK until September 2023. It was approved by the UK Medicines and Health products Regulations Agency (MHRA) in September 2021.

Wegovy is recommended for weight management in people with or without type 2 diabetes and is considered safe with only mild to moderate side effects, such as a sore stomach and nausea [5][6].

Wegovy, like any prescription medication, may not work for everyone, and like with any medication, side effects are possible. That means it's important to make sure that you see a trusted healthcare professional before starting your medicated weight loss journey.

Our clinical team can assess your eligibility for the the Juniper Weight Reset Programme which combines weight loss medication including Wegovy with health coaching and lifestyle changes to achieve long-term sustainable weight loss.

What is Wegovy?

Wegovy is a weight loss medication that uses the active ingredient, semaglutide. Injected once a week into the stomach, thigh or upper arm, Wegovy helps to manage appetite, reducing food intake and helping you to feel fuller for longer.

And, the weight loss results are particularly promising, with clinical trials showing that at 68 weeks of consistent semaglutide use, the average total body weight loss was 14.9% [1].

Wegovy injections come in a variety of doses. The dosage will typically start quite low for weeks 1-4. After this, the dose will gradually be increased until you reach the maintenance dose at around week 17, and it will stay the same for the rest of your time using Wegovy.

How does Wegovy work?

With results widely documenting it as a highly efficient weight loss medication and added benefits like reducing the risk of heart disease and cardiovascular events [2], you may be wondering how does Wegovy help you lose weight?

Wegovy uses the active ingredient semaglutide (a glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1 for short) which is a hormone that is naturally present in your body that helps to regulate appetite [2].

GLP-1 helps to reduce the amount of sugar produced in the liver, boost basal insulin, as well as decreasing appetite. By mimicking this naturally occurring hormone, Wegovy helps you manage your calorie intake.

Wegovy helps to lower your appetite and makes it easier to maintain a reduced-calorie diet, too. But it's important to remember that while Wegovy does help you reduce overall calorie intake, it's best to maintain a healthy diet, with a wide range of fresh ingredients and nutrients, for optimal health benefits.

Who can use Wegovy?

To get a prescription for Wegovy, you will need to have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over, or have a BMI of 27 and over, with additional health conditions related to body weight, such as high blood pressure [4].

It's typically not advised you take Wegovy if you meet one of the following:

  • You're pregnant or breastfeeding 
  • You have liver, kidney or heart failure, an eating disorder or pancreatitis 
  • You're taking insulin, sulphonylureas; or
  • If you're already taking other weight loss drugs that work in a similar way

If you're curious about the weight loss injection Wegovy but aren't sure if you qualify for a prescription, speaking to a trusted healthcare professional will help determine if you're eligible for Wegovy or any other weight loss treatment.

Is Wegovy available in the UK NHS?

Britain's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) drafted a guidance recommendation that Wegovy becomes available on the NHS for those with a body mass index (BMI) of over 35.

As mentioned in the release, the NICE committee will need to consider the cost of the programme and the amount of taxpayer money they are able to fund the programme, hence it will not be available to everyone that is eligible to be prescribed the medication. To access Wegovy through the NHS, you will need a referral to an NHS specialist weight management service and complete the wait times to see if you are eligible.

However, if you are not eligible to claim Wegovy on the NHS, it will still be available, at cost, from pharmacies.  Either way, you will need a prescription. But this means that chemists won't be able to provide the drug as a part of a programme of wider support.

If you find that you're not eligible for Wegovy on the NHS, it's important to seek out a community of like-minded people and maintain access to healthcare professionals so that you can ensure your weight loss journey is successful and sustainable.

What are other alternatives to Wegovy?

While a healthy diet and physical activity alone can help you lose weight, sometimes you just need an extra helping hand. That's where weight loss medications really come in handy.

Medications are great for regulating appetite, helping to inform healthier decisions, and giving you the support to overhaul your lifestyle and general attitude towards weight loss. They might also result in other health improvements that might not be directly related to the scales, too.

While it's best to start your journey making some small, manageable lifestyle changes. If you're looking to accelerate your results, there are many medications available on the market.

Another common weight loss management drug is Ozempic, which also uses semaglutide. Ozempic is incredibly effective at helping people lose weight in much the same way as Wegovy as they share the same active ingredient. And, Ozempic is the medication we offer in our Weight Reset Programme.

Ozempic was originally developed to treat diabetes, however it has been shown to rapidly reduce weight in patients as a byproduct of regulating insulin secretion in response to eating meals, so your blood sugar is better controlled[7]. Currently, Ozempic is prescribed off-label for weight loss, but the success of weight loss prompted the development and clinical trials of this same molecule to be used specifically to treat obesity, which is Wegovy.

Wegovy matches the first three doses of Ozempic (0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg of semaglutide) but additionally has two higher doses available (1.7mg and 2.4mg). The higher-dose injection of semaglutide can provide even greater weight loss than Ozempic in trials, due to the higher dosage[7]. However, high doses can come with the risk of side effects your titration schedule should be managed with a clinician.

Looking for a holistic approach to support weight loss? Juniper's Weight Reset Programme offers health tracking, access to a community of like-minded women as well as ongoing lifestyle coaching and effective weight loss medication, including Wegovy.

With a science-backed program, we help you get to the root cause of weight gain and offer ongoing support to help you build healthy habits that will stick for the long term.