A prescription weight-loss drug popular with celebrities is to be made available from Boots and Lloyds chemists in Scotland.
People will be able to access Wegovy, or semaglutide, from branches of the high-street pharmacists in the spring.
The drug will be offered as a self-administered injection to those with a prescription in the UK.
Doctors say it should only be used as a slimming tool if patients are severely obese and under medical supervision.
It is licensed in the UK specifically for weight loss and weight maintenance – primarily those who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over or a BMI of 27 or over with weight-related conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease or sleep apnoea.
Boots said it would be able to offer the full service – prescribing and dispensing the drug – while Lloyds Pharmacy has an online page where people can register their interest in its online Wegovy service.
A spokesperson at Boots said: “Wegovy is a prescription-only weight loss medicine that can help to regulate appetite and reduce cravings.
“It can be an effective medicine to achieve sustained weight loss when used alongside a reduced calorie diet, increased physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices.
“It will be available from Boots Online Doctor, with an anticipated launch of spring 2023. Customers can register their interest ahead of the launch via the Boots Online Doctor platform.
“The service is for customers who are worried that their weight is impacting their health. Customers will have access to treatment following their completion of an online consultation form, which will be assessed by a clinician.
“Those who are offered treatment will receive follow up touch points and support from the Boots online doctor service throughout their weight loss journey and can access advice and support from our pharmacy teams in stores.”
How does Wegovy work?
Patients inject themselves once a week with pens pre-filled with semaglutide.
The drug suppresses appetite by mimicking the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is released after eating.
It makes people using it feel full, thereby resulting in people eating less and reducing their overall calorie intake.
How much will it cost?
Retailers have not said how much the service will cost, but the list price of semaglutide 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg and 1.0 mg is £73.25 per pack (four pre-filled pens; excluding VAT).
Are there any concerns?
There can be side effects and risks, like any medication. The most common side effects are nausea or an upset stomach, bloating and gas.
But users might also get a gaunt “Ozempic face” if rapid weight loss leads to volume loss in the cheeks, according to Vogue magazine.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium said advice about the medicine has been withheld in confidence pending product availability.
Is Wegovy different from Ozempic?
Yes, they are different medications but they contain the same active ingredient, semaglutide. Wegovy contains a higher amount of semaglutide and is approved specifically for weight loss.
Novo Nordisk, Wegovy’s manufacturer, has stressed that the doses are very different: 1mg or lower for Ozempic, and 2.4mg for Wegovy.
It has said that the two should not be interchanged.
Famous Wegovy users include the tech billionaire Elon Musk. Asked last year how he’d slimmed down, the businessman said on Twitter: “Fasting . . . and Wegovy. Fasting + Ozempic/Wegovy + no tasty food near me.”
Boots says it has no plans to offer Ozempic for weight loss via its Boots Online Doctor Weight Loss Treatment service, though it does supply the drug to patients with a prescription for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.