A NEW weight-loss drug that has become available in the UK will not be introduced in Jersey unless the manufacturer can provide a ‘sustained supply’, according to a consultant for the Health Department.
David Hopkins, a consultant physician for diabetes and endocrinology, said Wegovy – produced by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk – was not yet widely available in Europe.
It was announced earlier this month that a limited supply would be offered to NHS patients who meet the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence criteria, as well as some private clinics.
Under NICE criteria, Semaglutide – the drug Wegovy contains – can only be prescribed as part of a specialist weight management service with ‘multidisciplinary input’.
This means prescribing it alongside a weight-management programme or specialist obesity service and for a maximum of two years.
Users inject themselves with pre-filled pens once a week, suppressing their appetite by mimicking a hormone released after eating that makes them feel full.
Public Health director Professor Peter Bradley said: ‘The Pharmaceutical Benefit Advisory Committee have considered it and they have made recommendations, which are quite similar to those which are made in the UK. So in effect we have a very similar availability here to what we are seeing in the UK.’
He added: ‘There are issues about the supply of that particular medication to the international market, so all those things are being taken into consideration in exactly the same way as the UK [is doing].’
Mr Hopkins said: ‘We welcome the guidance set out in the UK NICE technology appraisal on the use of Wegovy (Semaglutide) in particular circumstances for the treatment of obesity. This drug is not yet widely available in Europe though we understand a limited supply has been made available to the NHS. We would not look to introduce it to Jersey before we had assurance that the manufacturer could provide a sustained supply for our patients.’
He added: ‘Wegovy is a form of Semaglutide and is identical to Ozempic with the exception of dose range and indication. Wegovy is intended for treatment of obesity and Ozempic for treatment of diabetes. Ozempic has been available in Jersey since its launch some years ago and has been widely used in the treatment of diabetes with very good results for many patients.
‘However, over the last year there have been increasing problems with the supply of Ozempic and other similar drugs, which is a worldwide issue and reflects the fact that the increased use of these drugs has exceeded the current global manufacturing capacity.’