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How NHS Weight Loss Injections Combat Obesity: A Cost-Effectiveness Guide

Weight loss injections are injectable medicines that can be used to help you lose weight. However, they do not work on their own and must be used alongside a diet and exercise plan to be successful.

Recently, weight loss injections have been approved for use in the UK such as the Wegovy injection and Saxenda. Their introduction on the NHS is significant because of the obesity burden. So, offering alternative treatments can help to ease the pressure on the service but also enable people to live happier, healthier lives.

In this article, we look at the cost and effectiveness of NHS weight loss injections.

What Are NHS Weight Loss Injections?

The NHS weight loss injections available are:

  • Saxenda
  • Wegovy

Saxenda contains the active ingredient liraglutide and Wegovy contains semaglutide. Both work to make you feel fuller and less hungry. They are injected into your skin, lowering your appetite and restricting your calorie intake to aid weight loss.

How Effective Are NHS Weight Loss Injections?

Studies have shown that semaglutide (Wegovy) is clinically effective for weight loss in overweight and obese people. A cohort study involving 175 subjects published in 2022 found that weekly doses of semaglutide of 1.7mg or 2.4mg resulted in a 5.9% weight loss at 3 months and 10.9% at 6 months.

Compared to placebo, 2.4mg of semaglutide has resulted in significant weight loss. It is also associated with a reduction in cardiovascular related morbidity and mortality.

Further trials have shown that out of the 2 NHS weight loss injections available, Wegovy and Saxenda, that Wegovy is more effective. A 2022 study revealed that in 68 weeks Wegovy resulted in a mean weight loss of 15.8% compared to 6.4% for Saxenda. So, alongside diet and exercise counselling, semglutide results in significantly better weight loss.

How Much Are NHS Weight Loss Injections?

According to NICE the list price of NHS weight loss injections are:

  • Wegovy 2.4mg is £175.80 per pack
  • Wegovy 1.7mg is £124.54 per pack
  • Saxenda 5 x 6mg/ml 3ml pens are £196.20

Wegovy has been approved by NICE for use on the NHS. You will have to meet strict criteria to get Wegovy from the NHS, and depending on your circumstances, may need to pay a regular prescription charge.

Best NHS Weight Loss Injection in the UK?

InjectionHow much does it cost?Is it prescription only?Available on the NHS?How much weight will I lose?What side effects might I get?
WegovyFrom £64.99YesYesUp to 15% after a yearFeeling or being sick, Diarrhoea, Constipation, Headache, Tiredness, Dizziness, Stomach pain, Upset stomach, Feeling bloated, Runny nose, Heartburn
SaxendaFrom £239.99YesYesUp to 6.5% after a yearFeeling or being sick, Diarrhoea, Constipation, Headache, Tiredness, Dizziness, Stomach pain, Upset stomach

Eligibility and How to Get Them

You can only get NHS weight loss injections if they are prescribed to you by a specialist weight management service.

To get these weight loss treatments you must meet certain criteria.

To be prescribed liraglutide (Saxenda) on the NHS, all of the following will need to apply:

  • A BMI of 35 or more or 32.5 or more if you’re south Asian, Chinese, Black African or African-Caribbean
  • Have a type of high blood sugar called non-diabetic hyperglycaemia
  • Be at risk of heart attacks, strokes or other heart problems because you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol

For semaglutide (Wegovy), you need to be experiencing health issues because of your weight and have a BMI of either:

  • 35 or more or 32.5 or more if you’re south Asian, Chinese, Black African or African-Caribbean
  • 30 to 35, or 27.5 to 32.5 if you’re south Asian, Chinese, Black African or African-Caribbean and meet further criteria set out by a specialist weight management service

If you think you’re eligible for NHS weight loss injections, you should make an appointment with your GP. They will assess your weight, general health and wellbeing and advise whether you will be suitable and advise you on the next steps.


Weight loss injections, alongside diet and exercise changes, are an important weight loss treatment. They offer an opportunity to relieve the burden of obesity on the NHS as well as offering an effective solution to weight loss. Wegovy has been shown in clinical trials to have a greater weight loss capacity than Saxenda and also has cardio-protective benefits.

Always consult healthcare providers for personalised medical advice and treatment plans for weight loss. Go to our dedicated Wegovy information page to find out how you can purchase this treatment direct from Prescription Doctor.

Authored & Reviewed By

Mohamed Imran Lakhi

MPharm - Lead Pharmacist
Imran Lakhi is the superintendent pharmacist and founder at Prescription Doctor. He has been at the core of our team.

Published on: 26/09/2023 Reviewed on: 12/10/2023
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