Ahmed Al-Liabi, pharmacist and IP at Scorah Chemists in Bramhall, talks to Saša Janković about adding a weight management service during the pandemic
Service type: Weight management service
Name and location of pharmacy: Scorah Chemists, Bramhall, Stockport
Name of pharmacist: Ahmed Al-Liabi
When did you start offering this service?
We started with Orlistat in 2018, but since July 2020 we’ve also been offering the Saxenda prescription-only daily insulin injection pen for weight management for overweight and obese patients.
Why did you start offering this service?
We already offered healthy living and dietary advice to our customers, as well as a Lipotrim and Orlistat weight management service, but we decided to add in Saxenda as we felt it gave us another option to help even more people.
In a nutshell, what does the service involve?
Customers who want weight management advice can book an initial 15-minute appointment with us either by going via our website or on the EMIS Patient Access app. We make it clear that the focus of the appointment will be specifically to do with Saxenda or Orlistat – depending which criteria they fit – and of course we will give them dietary and healthy living advice as well.
With the Saxenda appointment we explain that it is a prescription-only, daily insulin injection for weight management in overweight and obese patients, that can help people by increasing satiety and decreasing their appetite.
There’s a risk assessment form that we fill in with them to make sure they fit the criteria for supply – they have to be adults aged 18 and above who have a BMI of 30 or greater (obese); or have a BMI of 27 and less than 30 (overweight) with weight-related health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal levels of fats in the blood or obstructive sleep apnoea – and are not pregnant or do not have certain medical conditions such as IBS or severe renal impairment, which would rule them out.
The majority of patients we see in this particular clinic meet the requirements, which means they come to us once a week for supply of the pen, and we check their blood pressure, weight and waist circumference. Results should be quite instantaneous if they are following the diet and exercise advice as well, with the goal being to lose a minimum of 5% of their initial body weight after completing 12 weeks of treatment. If they are successful with that we then see them once a fortnight.
How much did it cost to set up the service?
It was free for us to set up – we just have to pay for the pen, and then resell it.
What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?
We found out about the service because we received an email from the training provider and attended their event. You have to do your own CPD work, and of course you need the PGD, as well as being able to go through the risk assessment form with the patient.
Are there any opportunities to sell over the counter or prescription products during the consultation or after it?
Not with Saxenda. However, if the patient doesn’t like the idea of the injectable pen then there are other weight management options we can offer them, such as Orlistat tablets which are cheaper, or meal replacement plans like Lipotrim.
How have patients responded to the service?
We added this programme to our weight management service because we felt there was a local need – even though it was in the middle of the pandemic – and so far the patients we have seen have been successfully losing weight and continuing to stay on it.
Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service?
It varies – in the beginning, I had quite a bit of interest but at the moment I’ve got two people still coming who have been able to maintain their weight.
How much do you charge for the service?
The consultation is free, and it’s £59 per pen.
Roughly how much a month do you make from offering the service?
We make about £20 per pen, so if the person is on the long term dose it’s about £80 per patient per month.
Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?
Yes, I’d recommend it 100%. At the end of the day, pharmacists are here to deal with public health and healthy living, so the more services you can offer your customers that help with this, the better.