Prescription-MedicationCurrently, the NHS fund only one drug, orlistat. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved the use of two additional medications in Europe, liraglutide 3mg and naltrexone combined with buproprion but these are not available for prescription on the NHS.

Orlistat

Orlistat can only be prescribed as part of an overall plan for managing a person’s weight in adults who have a BMI of 28 kg/m2 or more with an obesity-linked disease or in a person with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or more. Orlistat treatment can only be considered for people who have not reached their target weight loss or have reached a plateau on dietary, activity and behavioural changes. After taking orlistat for 3 months you can only continue to have this prescribed if you lose at least 5% of your starting body weight unless you have type 2 diabetes in which case your health care provider may decide upon a lower target. You cannot take orlistat if you have gall bladder disease or are pregnant.

In order for fats from foods you eat to be absorbed into the body, they need to be broken down by enzymes called lipases. When orlistat is taken with meals, it prevents these enzymes from working and causes a decrease in the amount of fat your body absorbs from your food. If you eat fatty foods whilst taking orlistat this may cause flatulence and diarrhea, which will discourage you from eating food that contains fat. Studies with orlistat have also shown that it may also improve other health factors beyond weight, including waist circumference, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You cannot take orlistat if you have gall bladder disease or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Liraglutide 3 mg

Liraglutide 3mg is available by private presription in the UK. Liraglutide 3 mg is a once daily subcutaneous injection, can only be prescribed as part of an overall plan for managing a person’s weight in adults who have a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or more with an obesity-linked disease or have a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or more. People with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia or during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The dose of liraglutide injected is gradually increased over a 4-week period to reduce gastrointestinal side effects. If after 12 weeks of the 3mg dose a person has not lost 5% or more of their initial weight then the drug must be stopped.

Liraglutide is a synthetic version of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) a hormone that is found naturally in your body that effects appetite and food intake. Liraglutide 3mg is thought to help people lose weight loss by decreasing appetite and reducing the amount of food that they eat. Liraglutide 3mg treatment can only be considered for people who have not reached their target weight loss or have reached a plateau on dietary, activity and behavioural changes. Liraglutide comes in a prefilled pen that you can use to self-inject.  Studies have shown that liraglutide 3mg may also improve other health factors beyond weight, including waist circumference, blood sugar, blood cholesterol levels. Liraglutide  at the lower doses 0.6 mg, 1.2 mg and 1.8 mg is available on the NHS for helping to lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes but these lower doses cannot be used in people without type 2 diabetes. Liraglutide 3mg is available privately.

Naltrexone/Bupropion (8 mg/90 mg)

Naltrexone/Bupropion (Mysimba) is available by private presription in the UK. Naltrexone/Bupropion can only be prescribed as an adjunct to a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity in adults who have a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or more with an obesity-linked disease or have a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or more. Treatment with Mysimba must be discontinued if a person has not lost 5% of their initial body weight or more after 16 weeks. Mysimba cannot be prescribed to people with uncontrolled high blood pressure, a history of seizures, with a known brain tumour, a history of bipolar disorder, undergoing acute alcohol of benzodiazepine withdrawal, a previous history of bulimia and anorexia nervosa, patients who are dependent upon opioids or receiving monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Mysimba is thought to reduce appetite by acting on the part of the brain that controls hunger. Studies have shown that Mysimba may also improve other health factors beyond weight including lower blood sugar.