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Semaglutide for Weight Loss: NICE Recommends a New Drug to Manage Overweight and Obesity

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ICMR survey 2015 suggests nearly 136 million people in India have issues related to weight. When millions of people are fighting their overweight and obesity-associated problems, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issues a draft prescription guidance for a new weight-loss drug, Semaglutide or Wegovy, manufactured by Novo Nordisk.

According to the guidelines, Semaglutide can be prescribed by weight management specialists as a part of multi-disciplinary interventions including lifestyle modifications, surgical methodologies for people dealing with weight-related conditions, and have a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 kg/m2 to 34.9 kg/m2.

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The drug trial process included a double-blind trial where neither the participants nor the experimenters know who receives a particular treatment. However, experimenters receive the drug outcome report. According to the results, once-in-a-week subcutaneous Semaglutide intake, participants on average lost 12% more body weight compared with placebo.  

The best part of the drug intake is that the patients can use prefilled pens of Semaglutide, similar to the pre-existing insulin injection pens. Semaglutide works by mimicking the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), released after eating, suppressing the appetite. In a way, it makes one feel full, meaning it satiates their hunger and reduces their overall calorie consumption.  

At present, Nice recommends Semaglutide as an option for weight management for a minimum of two years adjunct to exercise, diet, pharmacological, and lifestyle changes in adults having;

  • At least one weight-related comorbidity
  • BMI of at least 35.0 kg/m2 or exceptionally, a BMI of 30.0 kg.m2 to 34.9 kg/m2
  • Undergone or undergoing other weight management services like surgery

And for people from South Asia, China, Black African, and Caribbean ethnic backgrounds, the recommended BMI threshold is reduced to 25 kg/m2 and 30 kg/m2. 

Helen Knight, the Program Director in the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, in reference to the prevailing overweight conditions in people said: “ We know that management of overweight and obesity is one of the biggest challenges our health service is facing with nearly two-thirds of the adults either overweight or obese. It is a lifelong condition that needs medical intervention, has physiological and physical effects, and can affect the quality of life.”

“But in recent years, NICE has been able to recommend a new line of pharmaceutical treatments which have shown that those people using them, alongside changes to their diet and exercise, have been able to reduce their weight.”

The price list of prescribed Semaglutide in European markets for 0.25mg, 0,5, and 1.0 mg is £73.25 per pack (no VAT included) for 4 prefilled pens. And the price list of 2.4 mg and 1.7 mg is commercial, kept in confidence and undisclosed. 

The committee has permitted time for consultations and comments till 5 PM, Tuesday, 1st March 2022. Lastly, concluded by saying, “There is a large unmet need for many people living with obesity, and Semaglutide would be a welcome new treatment option.”

Pooja N Swamy (M.Sc Biomedical Sciences)
Pooja Holds Master's Degree in Biomedical Sciences from Vellore Institute of Technology. She believes in strong research and clear understanding over the subject. Always determined and focussed with a thirst to learn new things. Hardworking, flexible and grounded to align with the goals.

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