Tirzepatide, also known by the brand name Mounjaro, mimics hormones which make you feel full.
It is already available on the NHS to combat Type 2 diabetes. Medicines assessors will now decide whether it should be rolled out for weight loss.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Although further approvals are needed to use this in the NHS, Mounjaro has the potential to help thousands of people living with obesity and support those suffering from weight-related illnesses – if used alongside diet and physical activity.
“Tackling obesity could help cut waiting lists and save the NHS billions of pounds.”
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorised tirzepatide for adult patients with a body mass index in the obese category, and some overweight people who have weight-related health conditions such as high cholesterol or heart problems.
The drug – which is injected under the skin of the stomach, thigh or upper arm – should be used alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.
The MHRA reviewed data from two international trials which showed the drug led to significant weight loss.
In one study of 2.500 patients, those taking the highest 15mg dose lost on average 23% of their body weight.
The agency warned the drug may affect how well the contraceptive pill works in obese or overweight female patients.
Potential side effects include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting – which usually goes away over time – and constipation.
Julian Beach, MHRA interim executive director, healthcare quality and access, said: “We have prioritised rapid assessment of this new indication for Mounjaro, given the public health importance of access to new medicines to help tackle obesity.
“We have drawn on advice from the independent Commission on Human Medicines in coming to our decision, and as with all products, will keep the safety of Mounjaro under close review.”
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is looking at the drug’s cost-effectiveness for NHS use and is due to report in March 2024.
Professor Rachel Batterham, senior vice president for international medical affairs at Lilly, which manufactures Tirzepatide, said: “Obesity is a complex, chronic disease that significantly negatively impacts people’s health, quality of life and life expectancy.
“Tackling obesity requires a holistic approach including prevention strategies, and for those already affected by obesity, clinical services and effective treatment options.
“We’re delighted that tirzepatide has been authorised in Great Britain.”
Similar drug Wegovy is available on the NHS for weight loss through specialist weight management services.
Another, Ozempic, is available on the NHS for patients with Type 2 diabetes but not for weight loss alone.
Celebrities including Elon Musk and Kim Kardashian have reportedly turned to the jabs to slim their waistlines.
Boris Johnson has said he tried Ozempic and began losing “four or five pounds a week” but stopped due to nausea side effects.
The MHRA has issued warnings about fake weight loss jabs being sold by illegal suppliers amid high global demand.
The regulator recently said it had seized 369 potentially fake Ozempic pens since January.
Source: | This article first appeared on Express.co.uk