Limited quantities of Wegovy will be available in the UK for private and NHS supply from today, manufacturer Novo Nordisk has confirmed.

But it expects supply to be ‘constrained for the foreseeable future’, with only some pharmacies launching a private Wegovy service today.

There will also be a dedicated allocation of the weight-loss drug to specialist NHS weight management services for people who meet the National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE) criteria.

The weekly semaglutide injection, which suppresses appetite to aid weight loss, was recommended by NICE earlier this year for use alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity in adults who have at least one weight-related comorbidity and a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35kg/m2.

NICE then said that said semaglutide would be available to NHS patients when the launch of the drug in England was confirmed by manufacturer Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk said today that it was working with healthcare professionals to prioritise patients with the highest unmet medical need.

‘We are closely monitoring Wegovy demand and are working with regulators and providers to ensure people living with obesity can have access to and remain on treatment,’ the pharmaceutical manufacturer said.

‘We are dedicated to bringing additional treatment options to people living with obesity and share the government’s ambition to make obesity care accessible where there is high unmet medical need.

‘We believe the launch of Wegovy will help provide an additional option to support people living with obesity in the UK and look forward to working with healthcare providers to achieve this.’

Pharmadoctor, which provides clinical services packages to community pharmacies, has launched its Wegovy service today.

It said that its partner pharmacies providing the service as part of its weight management package will be the ‘first private UK service providers to be offering Wegovy to their patients’ during face-to-face consultations in their pharmacies.

Pharmadoctor chief executive Graham Thoms told The Pharmacist that all 400 of its partner pharmacies – including around 600 pharmacists – that provide its weight management service will be offering Wegovy as a treatment option within that service.

And it said that it expects that the number of pharmacies offering the service will increase to about 1,000 following the UK Wegovy launch.

He added that ‘the inclusion on Wegovy as a treatment option within our pharmacy service this morning will now enable Pharmadoctor and its partner pharmacists to take our fight against the UK obesity epidemic to another level’.

He also confirmed that Pharmadoctor was not involved in the supply of Wegovy to pharmacies or patients, which he said was undertaken by individual pharmacists with their suppliers.

Pharmacy multiple Boots also confirmed to The Pharmacist today that it was offering Wegovy.

But it said that due to limited stock availability, Boots Online Doctor would currently only be offering Wegovy to patients currently using its Weight Loss Treatment service, as well as to patients with an NHS prescription.

The Boots Weight Loss Treatment Service that offers Wegovy will cost patients upwards of £199, which includes an online consultation with a clinician, a one month prescription and cost of the medicine, and aftercare and support.

Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) said that it was ‘good to see that there will be some supply of Wegovy available to manage obesity’.

She told The Pharmacist that unmet demand for Wegovy had led to off-license use of Ozempic, another semaglutide product, which had contributed to a shortage affecting diabetic patients.

And she added that she hoped the UK launch would prevent patients from trying to obtain Wegovy from unsafe internet sites.

‘Many of our members offer effective weight management clinics and we hope that the supply will become stable as soon as possible and we will be continuously liaising with the manufacturer to that effect to ensure patients are informed,’ she added.