Weight loss drug that 'makes you feel full' approved for NHS Scotland

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) published its advice.

Weight loss drug Saxenda among six medicines approved for use in Scotland’s NHS iStock
Two medicines were not accepted for use by the SMC.

A weight loss drug that is said to make you feel full is among six medicines approved for use by the NHS in Scotland.

The medicines were approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium which advises on newly licensed medicines.

liraglutide (Saxenda) was accepted for weight management in adults and is used alongside diet and exercise to help people lose weight. 

It is intended for patients who are obese and have additional health problems related to being overweight, such as raised blood sugars, blood pressure or cholesterol.

It is thought liraglutide acts on receptors in the brain to help control appetite. This may lead to increased feelings of fullness and reduce feelings of hunger, helping a person to eat less and contribute to weight loss, the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) said.

Two other drugs – pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo) – are for the treatment of oesophageal cancer.

Venetoclax (Venclyxto) has been accepted for the treatment of adults with previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).  

Dapagliflozin (Forxiga) was accepted for the treatment of adults with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Oritavancin (Tenkasi) is an antibiotic and was accepted for the treatment of acute (short-term) bacterial skin infections and infections of the structures beneath the skin.  

SMC chairman Mark MacGregor outlined the benefits of the medicines in the SMC’s decision to give approval.

“The committee is pleased to be able to accept six medicines for use by NHSScotland,” he said.

“Patients living with oesophageal cancer often receive their diagnosis late, having a huge impact on the patient and their family. 

“The availability of pembrolizumab and nivolumab could improve outcomes for patients living with this condition.

“For those with CLL, venetoclax offers another treatment option which may enable patients to continue to work and take part in family life.

“Dapagliflozin can delay disease progression for patients with CKD and may reduce the risk of patients reaching end-stage kidney disease.

“We know that antibiotic resistance is of increasing concern and the availability of another antibiotic, oritavancin, will be welcomed.

“Obesity is a serious public health issue in Scotland.  Used alongside diet and exercise, liraglutide could assist carefully selected patients in their weight loss journey.”

Despite the approval of the six medicines, two medicines submitted were not accepted.

These were daratumumab (Darzalex) when used as part of a combination regimen, for the treatment of newly diagnosed myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow.  

This was due to the evidence not being strong enough to satisfy the SMC that it would offer value for money to the NHS in Scotland.

And it was also unable to accept ropeginterferon (Besremi) for the treatment of polycythaemia vera, a rare and incurable cancer where too many red blood cells are produced by the body. 

It was not recommended as the company’s evidence around the clinical and cost effectiveness of the treatment compared to currently available options was not sufficient, the SMC indicated.