NHS applications will enhance access to weight-loss drugs

According to draft health guidance, the National Health Service (NHS) in England may use four apps designed to enhance access to weight-loss medications.

The applications will also offer psychological support and professional diet and exercise advice to the most obese users.

Health Advisory Body According to NICE, face-to-face services for the treatment of obesity cannot keep up with demand. A quarter of English citizens are considered obese.

Mark Chapman, interim director of medical technology and digital evaluation at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, stated that the applications would allow more individuals to gain access to weight-loss assistance.

He mentioned that the waiting lists are lengthy, certain areas lack services while patients require a remedy. 

The Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, stated that the use of apps in conjunction with life-changing weight-loss medicines would aid in the fight against obesity, which costs the NHS billions.

He said that the newest obesity medicines have the potential to help patients lose significant quantities of weight and reduce related conditions, but they must be combined with diet, exercise, and broader behavioral support to prevent regaining weight. 

NICE recommends in its draft guidance that the NHS can use the apps while evidence of their cost-effectiveness is compiled over the next four years. It seeks to strike a balance between providing the finest care and maximizing taxpayer value.

According to NICE's calculations, up to 48,000 individuals could use the apps, saving 145,000 hours of doctor's time.

The technology seeks to assist those who are unable to attend in-person treatment appointments, do not have access to local assistance, or are on a waiting list.

It was added that some patients may require a tablet computer and mobile internet connection to access the applications. One of the medications recommended by the apps, the much-touted weight-loss injection Wegovy, is not yet commercially available.

It has not yet been introduced in the United Kingdom, and its Danish manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, recently stated that the drug's high demand in the United States would make its introduction in new markets difficult.

Wegovy was approved for use by the NHS in England in March after clinical trials demonstrated it could aid in weight loss of more than 10% when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

By mimicking a hormone called Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), the drug makes individuals feel full and reduces their caloric intake.

Novo Nordisk's chief financial officer, Karsten Knudsen, stated, "We would love to do it, do not get me wrong, but we need to take care of the patients on Wegovy today so we do not create an unnecessary burden that prevents people from receiving continuity of care and the benefits they are entitled to."

Mr. Knudsen stated that the company now has 70% more employees than it did a year ago as a result of hiring thousands of workers to construct and administer new factories.

Novo Nordisk produces the diabetes medication Ozempic as well as the weight loss injections Saxenda and Wegovy.

On Friday, August 25, a 10-day public comment period on the proposed NICE recommendations for applications will conclude.

In some circumstances, only those with a BMI of 35 (near the top of the obese range) and a weight-related illness will be eligible to use the apps.