What is Saxenda? Weight-loss jab is now available at Boots pharmacies - how much it costs

NHS weight-loss injection to suppress people’s appetite is now available at Boots pharmacies in a bid to cut obesity

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A weight-loss jab which suppresses appetite has now become available at Boots and Lloyds pharmacies across the UK.

The NHS injections were first approved in the UK in 2017 and initially only available via private prescription.

However, they have recently been made available under strict criteria and guidance.

Here’s everything you need to know about the weight-loss jab from what it is, how it works, its price and how you can get it at your local pharmacy.

What is Saxenda and how much does it cost?

Saxenda, sometimes also known as liraglutide, is an injectable prescription medication used for the treatment of obesity in adults.

The jab suppresses your appetite by posing as a hormone that regulates feelings of hunger.

Our bodies produce a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) after eating a filling meal, which helps to regulate appetite by telling us when to be hungry or not.

Saxenda works by mimicking the hormone GLP-1 - regulating appetite and leading to eating fewer calories and losing weight.

The jabs are now available at Boots and Lloyds Pharmacy.

Saxenda comes in a 3ml pre-filled injection pen, with a single pen lasting 17 days and a pack of three covering 4.5 weeks.

A pack of three pens costs £150 and a pack of five is priced at £240.

How does it work?

Patients inject themselves with semaglutide, which suppresses the appetite through mimicking the hormone GLP-1.

It makes people feel full, meaning they eat less and lose weight.

You can see how to inject it on the How to use Saxenda page.

Saxenda should be used once a day, at around the same time.

It is not a quick-fix weight loss medication, but rather it is designed to be used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle to support long term weight loss.

By the four month follow up appointment, patients should have lost at least 4% of their body weight.

Are there any side effects?

According to the Boots Online Doctor website, common side effects of Saxenda are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation.

There can also be an increased heart rate and an increased risk of gallstones.

Guidance issued on the website states it is important to read the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with your medicine for full information on the side effects and how to take it.

How effective is it?

Clinical trials were carried out for the treatment of obesity using Saxenda.

Patients were administered a 3mg daily dose of the injection or a placebo for 56 weeks and were given counselling about lifestyle changes they need to adopt related to a calorie-controlled diet and regular physical exercise.

Across the study results concluded that patients treated with Saxenda experienced a significant reduction in weight when compared with the placebo.

Patients treated with Saxenda achieved between 5% and 10% weight loss when compared with the placebo.

A further study looked at patients taking Saxenda for a three year period, and found 56% achieved significant weight loss after one year with approximately half of these patients maintaining weight loss after three years (with a reduced-calorie meal plan and increased physical activity) compared with people not on the drug.

How can I get a weight-loss jab at pharmacies?

You have to meet certain criteria to get access to the weight-loss jab at Boots and Lloyds pharmacies.

The criteria changes depending on the individual.

In most cases, you have to be 30 or above on the Body Mass Index scale and have tried other methods of losing weight before being accepted for Saxenda.

You will have to apply for a quick online consultation which includes a questionnaire that will ask you about your medical history and symptoms.

Your answers help their experts assess your suitability for treatment.

If accepted, you can pick up your jabs in store or have them delivered for free to your home.

What other weight loss treatments are there?

Boots also offer Xenical or Orlistat as prescription treatment to help patients lose weight.

Xenical is the branded version of Orlistat, and are both tablets that work in the same way.

They block the absorption of some of the fat from your meal with your body then getting rid of the fat through your stool.

There are also some common side effects with Orlistat or Xenical that are caused by the extra fat being passed out through your stool.

These include abdominal pain, oily diarrhea, the urgent need to use the toilet, wind, and anal leakage. There can also be headaches and increased anxiety.

The medicines are best used alongside a lower fat healthy eating plan which can help to reduce these side effects.

How bad is the obesity crisis?

Statistics have shown that one in three children leave primary school obese, with it estimated that one in four adults are overweight.

The UK has the second highest rates of obesity in Europe.

According to the government it is estimated that the NHS spent £6.1 billion on overweight and obesity-related ill-health in 2014 to 2015.

The overall cost of obesity to wider society is estimated at £27 billion.

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