Novo Nordisk’s obesity drug Wegovy will soon be available for use from the National Health Service (NHS) of England, despite currently limited stock from manufacturers.

Novo announced that the launch of its Wegovy drug will be enacted in a controlled and limited fashion.

Consequently, the pharmacotherapy will only be available to patients who meet the eligibility criteria set out by the country’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which recommends the concomitant use of Wegovy with a healthy diet and exercise in patients with comorbidities, who have a body mass index (BMI) of 35kg/m² or above.

Wegovy will also be available for patients who are eligible for specialist weight-management services with a BMI of 30-34.9kg/mg² and who have a weight-related comorbidity.

Weight-related comorbidities include Type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and obstructive sleep apnea.

GlobalData’s recent Obesity: Seven-Market Drug Forecast and Market Analysis report, which explores marketed and late-stage pipeline pharmacotherapies in the obesity space, showed that in 2021, the obesity space was worth $2.43bn across the seven major markets (7MM: US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and Japan).

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By GlobalData

By 2031, it is projected to be worth $37.06bn. Forecasted drugs include Novo’s Wegovy, which is set to be a top-selling drug by the end of the forecasted period.

Wegovy is a glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA) therapy. In addition to providing an improved efficacy in comparison to other marketed therapies on the obesity market, Wegovy also requires a lower frequency of administration, just once a week.

This reduced administration burden is of utmost importance, as many obese patients are subject to additional pharmacotherapies due to suffering from comorbidities.

As a result of these advantages, Wegovy is expected to be one of the key players in the obesity space; by 2031, the drug is anticipated to reach $10.17bn in sales across the 7MM.

Another GLP-1RA that is likely to compete with Wegovy in the obesity space is Eli Lilly’s tirzepatide, a GLP-1R and gastric inhibitory polypeptide receptor dual agonist that is currently in the late-stage pipeline for obesity.

Key opinion leaders (KOLs) interviewed by GlobalData have expressed their excitement over Wegovy, calling the therapy a game-changer due to its potential to enable clinically meaningful weight reduction in obesity patients.

This excitement is the result of the drug’s ability to provide 15% of total body weight loss in patients, which is almost twice as much as the currently marketed Saxenda medication.

However, these KOLs also noted the limited supply of Wegovy as one of the major hurdles to the drug’s sales growth.

While facilitating access to Wegovy via the NHS will be paramount in relieving the country’s obesity crisis, many KOLs agree that pharmacotherapy alone will not suffice in resolving obesity, and this is reflected in NICE’s eligibility criteria for the drug.

Obesity is an ongoing, chronic, long-term issue; even if Wegovy effectively reduces weight in patients, it is imperative that patients adhere to adjunct long-term weight management via lifestyle experts, psychologists, and social care support in order to maintain this weight loss, ensuring that the positive effects of GLP-1RAs are long-lasting.

Furthermore, the strict eligibility criteria set out by NICE will ensure that limited stock does not prevent patients most in need of Wegovy from receiving it.