Controversial diabetes drug to be touted as ‘weight loss jab’ in UK

  • Semaglutide is only licensed in the UK for the treatment of weight-related disorders under the brand name Ozempic
  • Weight loss drug semaglutide will be launched in the UK in the spring, according to the MoS, and will be sold by Boots

The miracle weight loss tool that has taken Hollywood by storm will be launched in the UK within weeks, the Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The trendy drug semaglutide – believed to help stars maintain their slim figures – is currently only licensed in the UK to treat diabetes under the brand name Ozempic.

But its startling weight-loss side effect means there’s a thriving off-label market of those using it to lose weight.

After a huge search, the Home Office understands that semaglutide, approved for weight loss, is expected to be launched in the UK in the spring and will be sold on the high street in Boots.

The drug’s maker, Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk, said it would launch the weight-loss drug, called Wegovy, “as soon as possible”.

Boots already advertises Wegovy on its website as part of its weight loss programme. It will sell the prescription-only drug to customers after they complete an online health questionnaire that is approved by a medical practitioner.

The price of the much-hyped ‘skinny jab’ is being kept under wraps until it goes on sale, but Ozempic users have told the MoS they pay around £180 for a month’s supply.

Users inject the drug once a week using self-injection pens containing doses of 2.4 mg. It acts like a chemical gastric band that suppresses the appetite of patients and helps them lose an average of 16 percent of their body weight after one year.

Ozempic and Wegovy were dubbed “Hollywood’s worst-kept secret” after a Variety magazine investigation suggested A-listers were using the shots to lose weight for big events.

Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, said last October that he used Wegovy to stay in shape, and Kim Kardashian is rumored to have used semaglutide to quickly lose 16 pounds to fit into a dress once worn by Marilyn Monroe.

Semaglutide is currently licensed in the UK only for the treatment of weight-related conditions such as diabetes under the brand name Ozempic

The celebrity buzz, further fueled by TikTok, created a huge following in the UK, leading to stocks of semaglutide running out over the winter.

Dr David Eccleston, a private GP in Birmingham who specializes in weight loss, said he had received more than 100 requests from patients wanting to use Ozempic as a weight-loss treatment, but he had turned them down.

He said: “No healthcare professional in the UK is allowed to actively promote Ozempic as a treatment for obesity because it is off-licence for the product. It’s a gray area. It is not illegal to prescribe, but it is illegal to advertise for weight loss. If I did, I would be on very dangerous ground.

Novo Nordisk is also clear that it does not support “off-label prescribing”.

But a 58-year-old Ozempic user told the MoS it was recommended as a weight-loss aid by a nurse at an aesthetic beauty clinic near Cambridge, alongside her regular Botox injections. After a year on the drug she has lost more than two stone.

Beauty expert Alice Hart-Davies, founder of The Tweakments Guide, said: “Ozempic and other prescription injectables are causing quite a stir in the world of aesthetic medicine. And I hear through the grapevine that many beauty professionals are trying it out for themselves.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has approved Wegovy to be marketed as a weight-loss tool for adults with a BMI over 30 or a BMI over 27 with weight-related conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease.

Last year, NICE recommended Wegovy for weight loss with a number of warnings – such as not using it for more than two years.

But semaglutide has unpleasant side effects, such as nausea and vomiting.

It also led to the emergence of a new phenomenon called “Ozempic Face” or “Wegovy Face”, as patients’ faces appear haggard and haggard after rapidly losing significant amounts of weight.

Slimming (file photo). Weight loss drug semaglutide will be launched in the UK in the spring, according to the MoS, and will be sold by Boots

Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Jonathan Zelken, 43, of Newport Beach, Calif., weighed nearly 200 pounds when a doctor advised him to try Ozempic last October.

He said: “Ozempic scares me. I was on it for ten weeks and lost 30 pounds, but a few people started noticing and I went from compliments to people saying I looked tired and worn out.

“I had Ozempic Face. I lost fat above my cheekbones which is not attractive. People said I looked terrible. Ozempic Face has the ability to prematurely age someone, and to friends you may look more haggard and also potentially look older.

Last week, Dr. Zelken injected fillers above his cheeks to compensate for the gaunt appearance left by Ozempik. “I didn’t like those hollows under my eyes. Losing volume above the cheekbones looks bad. Just placing half a syringe of filler in this area created a visible impact. This will last about a year.

Dr. Zelken believes that other patients come to him seeking facial fillers after losing weight with Ozempic, but are unwilling to admit that they have been taking the drug.

I see more people in the past year than ever who have lost a lot of weight who will flat out deny that they are on any medication. But I suspect they are taking Ozempic.

Despite the risks, the appetite for the miracle diet drug shows no signs of abating.

One customer from London, who asked not to be named, said she had lost 3kg using Ozempic and that around a third of her friends were also using it.

She said: “I went to a dinner in Mayfair last week and everyone was so skinny – you know everyone does [Ozempic]. Those who were honest enough to admit it said they lost weight very quickly and were very happy about it.

A spokesperson for Novo Nordisk said: “Patient safety is our priority, all prescriptions of our products must be in accordance with the approved summary of product characteristics and therapeutic indications.”

A Boots spokesperson said: “Wegovy is a prescription-only weight loss medicine that can help regulate appetite and reduce cravings. It can be an effective drug for achieving sustained weight loss when used in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet, increased physical activity, and healthy lifestyle choices.

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