'Game-changing’ weight loss drug an ‘exciting’ development as obesity crisis worsens

Steve Barclay (left) and a jab being administered (right)

Steve Barclay has heralded an 'exciting' new drug

GB News / PA
Ben Chapman

By Ben Chapman

Published: 07/06/2023

- 17:49

The Health Secretary wants the drug available at 'the earliest opportunity'

A “game-changing” weight loss drug has been heralded as an “exciting” development by the Health Secretary.

A £40 million NHS pilot scheme will see the appetite suppressant being rolled out as the Government looks to tackle obesity.

Semaglutide is a drug popular with celebrities such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who uses it to maintain his weight.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) sanctioned its use earlier this year.

Speaking to GB News, Health Secretary Steve Barclay says that while the drug is a step in the right direction, it should be used to supplement a healthy lifestyle.

He told Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster: “Obesity really is a big impact on the NHS. We think it costs around £6.5 billion to the NHS and it has an impact on the labor market too.

“It is about empowering patients and it has a big impact on people’s health. People struggle to lose weight and keep that weight off.

“This is a really exciting development and we want to make sure the NHS is at the front of the queue in rolling it out.”

Steve Barclay

Steve Barclay says a new drugs pilot scheme will be rolled out at the 'earliest opportunity'

GB News

The drug is designed to blunt appetite, meaning users will feel full and eat less.

Rishi Sunak has talked up its potential impact, saying it could be a “game-changer” while announcing its pilot scheme.

The drug, which is taken by having a jab, could result in users shedding over 10 per cent of their body weight, according to researchers.

Sunak said: "Obesity puts huge pressure on the NHS.

"Using the latest drugs to support people to lose weight will be a game-changer by helping to tackle dangerous obesity-related health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer."

Estimates suggest 12 million adults in England are obese, and over one million hospital admissions were linked to the condition in 2019-20.

As with any medication, side-effects and risks are something to consider when taking the drug.

The most common are nausea, bloating, upset stomach and gas.

“It’s part of the signal to suppliers that this is something that the NHS is going to lead on”, he said.

“We want to make sure the NHS is at the front of the pack.

“It’s a development alongside of other measures we are taking such as calorie disclosure to better inform people on menus.

“This is a really exciting new drug and we want it to be available to the NHS at the earliest opportunity.”

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