Weight loss medications- FAQ

There are a variety of medications used for weight loss available in the UK. Liraglutide (also called Saxenda®), semaglutide (also called Ozempic®, Rybelsus® and Wegovy®), tirzepatide (also called Mounjaro®) and orlistat are some examples. 

Orlistat works by reducing the fat absorption of the body it is available in capsule form and is licensed for weight loss. It is classified as a pharmacy medicine (P medicine) which means it can only be bought from a pharmacy either online or in-store. 

Liraglutide (Saxenda®), tirzepatide (Mounjaro®) and semaglutide (Wegovy® and Ozempic®) are available in an injectable form and are also licensed for weight loss. They are medicines that can make people feel fuller and less hungry. These medicines are known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs). Rybelsus® tablets and Ozempic® injectable pens which contain semaglutide are licensed to treat type 2 diabetes, but they are also prescribed 'off label' for weight loss (see below for explanation regarding ‘off label’ use). Tirzepatide is available in an injectable form and is licensed for type 2 diabetes and also weight loss. Liraglutide, terzepatide and semaglutide are prescription only medicines (POMs). This means they can only be lawfully supplied when they have been prescribed for someone by an appropriate practitioner. Examples of an appropriate practitioner are a doctor, a nurse independent prescriber or a pharmacist independent prescriber. 

Medicines are not ordinary items of commerce: for a member of the public to be able to obtain POMs they would need to have an appropriate consultation with a prescriber who will jointly make a decision, based on the information they provide, about whether it is appropriate to issue a prescription.