Government BANS companies exporting 'miracle' fat-fighting drug abroad
Government BANS companies from exporting ‘miracle’ fat-fighting drug abroad amid global shortage sparked by rumours drug was behind Kim K’s mystery weight loss to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress
- Semaglutide suppresses appetite, helping people lose a fifth of their weight
- Hollywood actresses and Elon Musk are rumoured to being using the injections
- Ministers have now added semaglutide to its export ban list as stocks run low
A ‘miracle’ obesity drug can no longer be exported from Britain as the Government attempts to shore up supplies amid a global shortage.
Semaglutide — a jab sold under the brand name Ozempic or Wegovy — suppresses appetite, helping people lose nearly a fifth of their weight. It was hailed as a major breakthrough when it burst onto the scene last year.
Hollywood actresses are rumoured to being using the injections to stay as skinny as possible. Even Elon Musk has credited the drug for his recent weight loss.
And rumours are rife on social media that Kim Kardashian used the drug to lose more than a stone in just three weeks.
Experts say the drug’s phenomenal success has driven a TikTok-fuelled stampede — with stocks now running drug across the world.
Ministers have now added semaglutide to its export ban list. All supplies of these drugs are needed to meet demand in the UK so cannot be sent to other nations.
Similar happened during the HRT crisis, when menopause-busting drugs were in short supply, and in the early days of the pandemic — when supplies of intensive care drugs were kept in the UK.
In May, reality TV star Kim Kardashian (left) told Vogue magazine she had lost 16 lb in three weeks so she would be thin enough to fit into a dress that once belonged to Marilyn Monroe, rumours began to circulate that she had used semaglutide. When asked whether following a healthier diet or hitting the gym was behind his 30lb (13.6kg) weight loss, Elon Musk (right) credited ‘fasting’ and ‘Wegovy’
Semaglutide — a jab sold under the brand name Ozempic or Wegovy (pictured) — suppresses appetite, helping people lose a fifth of their weight. It was hailed as a major breakthrough when it burst onto the scene last year
Wegovy is the brand name for a drug called semaglutide.
A 1mg dose of semaglutide is already approved in the UK as a treatment for people with type 2 diabetes.
But studies have found a 2.4mg of the drug works effectively as a weight loss drug.
It works by triggering the body to produce a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 that is released naturally from the intestines after meals.
The hormone helps control blood sugar and makes people feel full so they know when to stop eating.
Results from a study of 2,000 people over 15 months show participants lost 15 per cent of their body weight on average, equating to 15.3kg.
The group received individual counselling sessions from registered dietitians to help them stick to a reduced-calorie diet and exercise plan, alongside the weekly injections.
Volunteers reported improvement in their quality of life and a reduction in risk factors for developing heart disease and diabetes, such as reduced waist circumference, blood fats, blood sugar and blood pressure.
But the drug triggered side effects include mild or moderate nausea and diarrhoea, but researchers said these were short-lasting and resolved themselves.
Novo Nordisk UK, the drug’s manufacturer, said it had been hit by ‘unprecedented demand’.
The Department of Health’s move is a ban on what’s called the parallel export of drugs. It means wholesalers are not allowed to buy UK stocks to sell them abroad.
The NHS spending watchdog NICE approved the jab — taken once a week via an EpiPen-like device — for obese patients earlier this year.
It was off the back of a study which showed that obese people who took the drug, alongside eating less and exercising more, lost 15 per cent of their body weight. For comparison, the group who just led a healthier lifestyle lost just two per cent of their body weight.
Wegovy, which is set to become available in late 2022 or early 2023, will be offered to morbidly obese people who have at least one weight-related health condition.
Those who are obese may also be able to access the drug if they are referred by their doctor.
Although semaglutide is licensed for use only in people with obesity suffering health problems, specialists can legally offer it to anyone they feel might benefit – known as ‘off-label’ use. It has allowed doctors to prescribe semaglutide to high-risk patients as a preventative measure, rather than wait for them to develop an illness.
Semaglutide works by mimicking glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a hormone which is released after eating.
It signals to the body to release insulin, which helps move digested sugar from the blood into cells where it can be used for energy.
This leads to feelings of being full.
Patients taking the drug claim to have been left repulsed by their own favourite food — including coffee, chocolate and fried chicken.
Other GLP-1 agonists, like they are known, are available, including dulaglutide and liraglutide.
Pharmacists say shortages are now affecting these, too. Yet they are not on the Government’s export ban.
Leyla Hannbeck, of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacists, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘There has been a problem getting hold of all GLP-1 agonists for a few months now – particularly semaglutide.
‘It is similar to what happened with HRT – people post about the benefits on social media and suddenly everyone wants to take it.’
The demand is thought to have been sparked, partly, by Kim Kardashian’s weight loss in May 2022, when she lost 16lbs (7.3kg) to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s old dress.
Kim never commented on rumours that she used the drug, which became rife on social media.
In one TikTok clip, viewed more than 1million times, an evangelical patient speculates: ‘In my opinion Kim’s drastic weight loss could be due to something like [semaglutide]… I might be wrong.
‘These [medicines] are tools for people to completely metabolically change their bodies.’
US entertainment magazine Variety wrote in September this year: ‘Styling teams for celebrities have come to accept the injections as part of grooming rituals.
‘It has become the worst-kept secret in Hollywood.’
When asked whether following a healthier diet or hitting the gym was behind his 30lb (13.6kg) weight loss, Elon Musk credited ‘fasting’ and ‘Wegovy’.
Despite gaining popularity among celebrity circles, trials have shown that the drug triggers side effects including mild or moderate nausea and diarrhoea, as well as constipation and a sore stomach.
However, researchers say these are short-lasting and resolve themself.
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