Pilots to provide greater access to obesity drugs in primary care may benefit some patients, but must be backed with adequate resources – says College Chair

Responding to the announcement of a two-year pilot that will explore ways to make the obesity drug Semaglutide accessible to patients outside of hospital settings.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners said:

“GPs play an important and active role in supporting patients living with obesity to reduce their weight through healthy lifestyle changes, and lower their risk of serious health complications such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

“However, for some patients, other factors are at play that make weight loss more difficult, and other interventions may be necessary.

“Currently, Semaglutide (Wegovy) for weight loss is largely distributed in the NHS through specialist clinics in secondary care. Where patients receive dietary advice and holistic support that helps them adopt healthier behaviours, including help getting enough exercise.

“Shifting some of this care safely into primary care is worth exploring as it makes sense for patients to access care within the community, where safe and appropriate, but this would need to be matched with sufficient resource and funding to account for the increased workload.

“Any plans to expand availability of Semaglutide in primary care must also be done based on evidence of long-term benefit to patients - and sufficient availability of the drug must be ensured ahead of any roll out.

“So as not to raise patients' expectations, as there may be a significant number of people who would benefit from it.

“It will be interesting to see the results of this pilot, and we look forward to it being robustly evaluated, taking the above points into account, before it is rolled out more widely, and as strategies to tackle obesity are developed."

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.