Weight loss jab recommended to treat type 2 diabetes

Another weight loss jab has been given the green light for NHS use, with about 180,000 people with type 2 diabetes expected to benefit.

Tirzepatide – also known as Mounjaro – can be used as an option for those who do not have the condition under control, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said.

The once-weekly jab should be prescribed to patients who cannot tolerate metformin – the first-line medicine for type 2 diabetes – and should be taken alongside diet and exercise.

It is expected to be available to NHS patients early next year, subject to manufacturer Eli Lilly’s supply.

According to Diabetes UK, 4.3 million people in the UK are living with the condition, and 90% of cases are type 2. The charity estimates that a further 850,000 people could be undiagnosed.

Nice’s independent committee said almost two in three people with type 2 diabetes do not have it under control, putting them at risk of serious complications.

Helen Knight, director of medicines evaluation at Nice, said: “There are very few new medicines being developed to treat difficult-to-manage type 2 diabetes.

“Our committee recognised the potential tirzepatide has to provide an effective and good value treatment option for all those living with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes.”

Publication of the final draft guidance comes after the public body requested more evidence from Mounjaro manufacturer Eli Lilly on the drug’s effectiveness in treating type 2 diabetes.

A report published in June said Nice “recognised the importance of new treatment options” but “more evidence is needed on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the drug before it is recommended for NHS use”.

Its latest guidance said clinical trials showed using tirzepatide “resulted in significant reductions in blood sugar levels and body weight compared with semaglutide, insulin therapy or a placebo”.

Nice is appraising tirzepatide as a tool for weight loss separately.

Ms Knight added that poorly controlled type 2 diabetes is a “huge challenge for those living with the condition and the NHS”.

“This recommendation will offer fresh hope for many and provide value for money for the taxpayer,” she said.

Nice is expected to publish its final draft guidance on October 11 with the drug made available within 90 days.

David Webb, chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, hailed the “great news” at a “time when there is disruption to the supply of key drugs used for treating people with diabetes”.

“This will provide a much-needed addition to other available treatments, and can be prescribed alongside diet and exercise, to greatly improve the lives of those living with this difficult disease and give more people the chance of a healthier future,” he added.

The recommendation comes days after semaglutide, sold under the brand name Wegovy, was launched in the UK to help tackle obesity.

The drug was approved for NHS use by Nice earlier this year and is now available to patients via specialist services.

About 50,000 people are expected to benefit despite a global shortage of semaglutide.