Can you get Saxenda on the NHS?
What's on this page?
- Is Saxenda free on the NHS?
- What's the criteria to get Saxenda on the NHS?
- Where can I buy Saxenda privately?
Saxenda is a drug injected every day to help aid weight loss. It was first approved in the UK in 2017 and was initially only available via private prescription. However, recently it has been made available on the NHS under certain strict criteria. In this post, we explain who can be offered Saxenda by the NHS.
Saxenda contains the active ingredient liraglutide. Liraglutide mimics a hormone called GLP-1, which is released by the body after a meal. Liraglutide works by acting on receptors in the brain that control appetite. This helps to make you feel fuller and less hungry, which can lead to eating less and weight loss.
Saxenda is available from private weight-loss clinics for people above the age of 18 who:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher
- Have a BMI of 27 or higher and weight-related conditions such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
It should be used alongside diet and exercise to help you lose weight.
Is Saxenda free on the NHS?
When Saxenda was first authorised, it was not available via the NHS. However, in December 2020 this was updated to allow Saxenda on the NHS in certain circumstances. This made it the first weight-loss medicine approved by the NHS in 10 years. Another weight-loss medicine, Orlistat, was first approved by the NHS in 2010.
It can be offered to patients through NHS weight management services in specialist centres, called tier 3 weight management services. Only patients who meet certain criteria can be prescribed Saxenda on the NHS.
What are the criteria to get Saxenda on the NHS?
Guidelines recommend that liraglutide (Saxenda) can be prescribed alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. It can only be prescribed in patients with all of the following:
- A BMI of at least 35, or 32.5 for some minority ethnic groups*
- Non-diabetic high blood sugar (sometimes known as pre-diabetes)
- A high risk of developing heart problems like strokes or heart attacks, for example, because they have high cholesterol or high blood pressure
*The BMI threshold is 32.5 for people of black African, African-Caribbean, Chinese or South Asian origin. This is because people from these ethnic groups are thought to be at an increased risk of obesity-related illnesses at a lower BMI than the white population.
The reason for the Saxenda NHS criteria is that people who meet the above factors are at a high risk of experiencing the negative consequences of obesity. This means they are likely to gain the most benefit from using Saxenda. The NHS guidelines stated it can be prescribed for up to two years.
You should speak to your GP for further advice if you fit the criteria and want to learn more about Saxenda on the NHS.
Where can I buy Saxenda privately?
The NHS looks at the cost-effectiveness of medicines when deciding whether they should be available on the NHS. The criteria for prescribing Saxenda to patients privately is different. Patients in the following categories can be prescribed Saxenda privately:
- A BMI of 30 or higher
- A BMI of 27 or higher and weight-related conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol
You can order Saxenda online from the Simple Online Pharmacy weight loss clinic. Complete an online assessment form for our UK doctors to review. Their review makes sure it’s safe and suitable for you to take Saxenda. Our online pharmacy then sends the medication to your door via Royal Mail.
Another weight loss injection called Wegovy has been recently approved in the UK. This has been created by Novo Nordisk, the same company behind Saxenda. It works in a similar way but most patients will find it easier to use because it's only injected once a week, rather than daily.