There are no known supply issues with Wegovy, a weekly semaglutide weight-loss injection that launched in the UK this week, the government has said.
But manufacturer Novo Nordisk said yesterday that it expects supply of the drug to be ‘constrained for the foreseeable future’.
This comes amid ongoing shortages and prescribing constraints for another semaglutide product, Ozempic, to protect supply for type 2 diabetes patients.
The UK launch of Wegovy yesterday was ‘controlled and limited’, according to the Novo Nordisk, with a certain allocation of the drug protected for specialist NHS weight loss services, and some pharmacies offering private prescriptions.
Boots UK told The Pharmacist that Wegovy would only be offered to patients already on its weight loss programme, while clinical services partner Pharmadoctor predicted an expansion in the number of pharmacies offering its weight loss services following the introduction of the drug.
In a blog post on its website, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said: ‘Semaglutide (Wegovy) for weight loss has only just launched in the UK and there are no known supply issues.’
But it acknowledged that there are currently supply issues with another semaglutide medication, Ozempic.
It said that these had been caused in part by off-label prescribing and the use of Ozempic for weight loss, creating shortages for type 2 diabetes patients.
‘To ensure enough supply of Ozempic for type 2 diabetes treatment, it should only be prescribed and used for its licensed indication,’ the DHSC added.
And it said that it would be continuing to monitor the supply of Ozempic and had provided ‘comprehensive advice to the NHS on how to manage supply issues with this medicine’.
‘We expect all providers of healthcare services, whether NHS or private, and all those with responsibility for prescribing to take appropriate account of national guidance such as National Patient Safety Alerts and Medicine Supply Notifications,’ the DHSC added.
Prescribers have been instructed not to routinely prescribe Ozempic for weight loss as it is solely licensed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
But Wegovy was given the green light to treat obesity by the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) earlier this year.
Upon its UK launch yesterday, manufacturer Novo Nordisk said it was working with healthcare professionals to prioritise patients with the highest unmet medical need and would closely monitor demand for the drug.