Call on HSE to make proven Obesity Treatment available to public patients

Call on HSE to make proven Obesity Treatment available to public patients

‘Daily injection’ treatment protects patients with obesity against diabetes and possibly COVID-19

30/10/2020 – NHS approved to make obesity drug available to public patients

Doctors have called on the HSE to make a new injection-based treatment for obesity, proven to be highly-effective, available to all suitable public patients in Ireland.

The call came after National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK has today (30/10/20) endorsed the treatment and approved it for public use across the NHS.

The drug Saxenda (liraglutide 3 mg) has been recommended in the UK for patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 35, prediabetes and a high risk of cardiovascular disease.

The decision follows a major international trial on the efficacy of the drug led by Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (IrSPEN) member Professor Carel le Roux, working at the University College Dublin, Diabetes Complications Research Centre.

He said patients on the treatment were proven to achieve weight loss, and to be 80% less likely to become diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Professor le Roux called on the HSE to make the drug available to all suitable public patients in Ireland, particularly given the additional risks which COVID-19 poses.

“It has never been more important for the healthcare community to prioritise supporting people living with obesity, given its strong links to poorer outcomes with COVID-19, as well as a range of other conditions including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The addition of this treatment in the NHS is fantastic news, as it offers the potential to help patients whilst alleviating pressure on healthcare systems.”

The treatment is provided by daily injection combined with lifestyle modifications.

Obesity affects one million adults in Ireland and is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes and poorer outcomes from COVID-19. Type 2 diabetes affects 200,000 people and accounts for more than 10% of the overall healthcare budget.

St Vincent’s University Hospital Consultant Endocrinologist and IrSPEN member Dr Karl Neff, said: “The issues of obesity and type 2 diabetes remain high on the political and media agenda because of COVID-19, and it is critical that this is now met with evidence-based solutions.

“Obesity has multiple causes and requires long-term management, and it is important that the clinical community and patients have access to effective treatment options available to the HSE. This is the first weight loss pharmacotherapy to be recommended by NICE for the prevention of type 2 diabetes, so this is a critical milestone for patients living with obesity and pre-diabetes.

“We hope that this medication, already available to private patients in Ireland, will also become available to public patients.”

A patient treated with the medication as part of the UCD trial, John Kane, said: “As someone who has struggled to manage my own weight, I understand how important it is that individuals receive long-term professional support to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way. For the majority of people living with obesity, dietary interventions and exercise alone are not sufficient to induce ongoing weight loss and maintenance, due to their bodies functioning differently, and so appropriate treatment options can be helpful and necessary. This medication has transformed my life during the clinical trial, but I and many people like me are not able to access this medication in Ireland.”


About Saxenda® (liraglutide 3 mg)

Saxenda® (liraglutide 3 mg) is a once-daily glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue with 97% similarity to naturally occurring human GLP-1, a hormone that is released in response to food intake. Like human GLP-1, Saxenda® (liraglutide 3 mg) regulates appetite by increasing feelings of fullness and satiety, while lowering feelings of hunger and prospective food consumption, thereby leading to reduced food intake

Liraglutide for managing overweight and obesity [ID740]