Celebrity weight-loss drug Wegovy approved for prescription in Scotland

The body that advises NHS Scotland on new medicines has accepted semaglutide.

The weight loss jab Wegovy has been approved for prescription in Scotland.

The medicine, which is the drug semaglutide, was accepted for weight management in adults alongside diet and exercise to help people lose weight by the Scottish Medicines Consortium on Monday.

“Obesity is a serious public health issue in Scotland,” said Dr Scott Muir, the Scottish Medicines Consortium’s chair.

“Used alongside a weight management programme including diet and exercise, semaglutide could assist carefully selected patients in their weight loss journey.”

There have been issues with the supply of semaglutide with the manufacturer Novo Nordisk saying it expects availability “to be constrained for the foreseeable future”.

A “proportion of available supply” has been allocated to NHS services.

“We will continue to work with healthcare professionals to help ensure that patients with the highest unmet medical need are prioritised,” the company said.

“We are closely monitoring Wegovy demand and are working with regulators and providers to ensure people living with obesity can have access to and remain on treatment.”

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) published advice on 12 medicines on Monday.

New treatments for migraines and blood cancer are among the latest batch of medicines to have been approved for use in Scotland.

Two gene therapy treatments were approved but will be monitored for three years before a review to decide whether to make them more widely available.

Adults who suffer at least four migraines per month were offered hope of “improved symptoms and quality of life” using oral treatment Rimegepant (Vydura).

One of the most common types of blood cancer, previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), will be targeted using Ibrutinib (Imbruvica) after it was accepted for use together with Venetoclax (Venclyxto).

Other patients suffering rare blood cancer but who cannot have stem cell transplants to treat newly-diagnosed myeloma, will be offered hope from Daratumumab (Darzalex) after it was accepted as part of a combination.

Both blood cancer treatments were welcomed as “valuable treatment options” by Dr Muir.

Adults suffering from life-threatening condition hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis, which can cause heart and neurological problems, will be able to access Vutrisiran (Amvuttra) after it was accepted.

The first drug ever to target the rare genetic condition acid sphingomyelinase deficiency (ASMD), also known as Niemann-Pick disease, will be made available for three years before being reviewed.

New drug Olipudase alfa (Xenpozyme) was approved to target the underlying causes of ASMD, which can affect the spleen, lungs, liver and blood, but it will be monitored for three years before a decision to make it routine.

A pioneering gene therapy treatment was approved for the first time to treat severe aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) deficiency – but only for three years before the drug will be reviewed.

The genetic condition affects the nervous system and causes developmental delays, muscle weakness, movement disorders and intellectual disability, but is hoped to be treated with Eladocagene exuparvovec (Upstaza).

“We are very pleased to be able to accept these medicines for use by NHS Scotland,” said Dr Muir.

“Rimegepant (Vydura) offers an oral treatment option which may help improve symptoms and quality of life for those affected by migraines.

“We know from the patient and clinician engagement meetings that Daratumumab and Ibrutinib are considered valuable treatment options so we are pleased to be able to accept these medicines for use in people with rare blood cancers.”

Dr Sophie Castell, chief executive at blood cancer charity Myeloma UK, welcomed the news about Daratumumab as part of a combination treatment.

She said: “Approximately two-thirds of newly-diagnosed myeloma patients are not eligible for a transplant, and now, at long last, they’ll be able to benefit from a life-extending treatment that could give them five precious years with their loved ones.

“As the first nation to approve this treatment on the NHS, Scotland is truly leading the way in bridging the gap in survival between people who are eligible for a stem cell transplant and those who are not.”

Laura Challinor, senior policy and public affairs manager at Blood Cancer UK, welcomed the decisions.

She said: “For those in Scotland facing untreated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and newly diagnosed myeloma, the approval of these treatments brings much-needed hope.

“With over 100 different types of blood cancer, it remains the UK’s third most deadly cancer.

“Combining drugs allows diseases to be attacked from multiple angles, increasing the chance of successful treatment.”

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