Is tirzepatide approved for weight loss in the UK?

Injecting with pen

Is tirzepatide approved for weight loss? While tirzepatide (the active ingredient in Mounjaro) was originally designed to treat type 2 diabetes, there is a growing trend of using injectable diabetic medicines like Mounjaro and Novo Nordisk's[1] Wegovy for weight loss.

Similar to Wegovy, which contains semaglutide, tirzepatide has recently been approved by the MHRA to help adults with obesity to lose weight.

Tirzepatide is a type of drug known as a GIP/GLP-1 receptor agonist, and it helps you to lose weight by reducing your appetite. In those who are diabetic, the medicine stimulates insulin release after meals, helping the body manage glucose (sugar) more effectively.

In this guide we’ll discuss what tirzepatide is, what it’s used for, what it’s approved to treat here in the UK, the dosage strengths and how and when you can get hold of it.

The availability of tirzepatide for diabetes treatment

In October 2023, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)[2] approved the use of tirzepatide as a treatment for poorly managed type 2 diabetes in England and Wales, alongside a healthy diet and exercise.

It’s important to note that there are ongoing shortages of GLP-1 medications like liraglutide and semaglutide, which are affecting people living with type 2 diabetes. The approval of tirzepatide raises uncertainties about its potential impact on these shortages.

The availability of tirzepatide for weight loss

In November 2023, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)[3] authorised tirzepatide to be used for weight loss in the UK.

Mounjaro isn’t suitable for everyone, though; you have to be 18 years or over, be considered obese, have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over, or a BMI between 27-30 and have weight-related health conditions like prediabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or cardiovascular problems.

Just like when it’s prescribed for type 2 diabetes management, Mounjaro must be used alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.

Is Mounjaro licensed for diabetes or weight loss?

Mounjaro was previously only licensed for type 2 diabetes. It has now been approved for both diabetes and weight management as of late 2023 by the MHRA. However, you’re only able to get Mounjaro on the NHS to treat poorly controlled type 2 diabetes.

If you’re interested in Mounjaro for weight loss, you would need a private prescription. You can find out exactly how to obtain Mounjaro for weight loss further down in this guide.

Woman on treadmill

Is tirzepatide licensed for type 1 or type 2 diabetes?

Tirzepatide is only licensed to treat type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is different from type 2 because the body is unable to make enough insulin, compared to type 2, where the body is resistant to insulin.

Mounjaro mainly works by helping the pancreas to release insulin, so it won't be as effective for people with type 1 diabetes.

That isn’t to say tirzepatide is suitable for everyone with type 2 diabetes; you still have to meet a certain criteria to be eligible to use it.

Mounjaro may be recommended to manage type 2 diabetes[4] for individuals with a BMI of 35 or higher who also face psychological or medical challenges. Additionally, people with type 2 diabetes and a BMI below 35 might receive a prescription if using insulin poses a risk to their job because of hypoglycemia[5].

This option is also considered for those who could experience health improvements in other obesity-related issues through weight loss.

When Mounjaro will be available in the UK

Mounjaro is available from February 2024. For diabetes management, the NHS has a three-month window to ensure tirzepatide is accessible for prescription, and it’s expected that supply will be available at the beginning of 2024.

What strengths of tirzepatide will be available?

Mounjaro comes in the following doses:

  • 2.5mg
  • 5mg
  • 7.5mg
  • 10mg
  • 12.5mg
  • 15mg

You’ll start with a 2.5mg Mounjaro injection once a week for the first month. After four weeks, your dose will increase to a 5mg injection per week.

If your prescriber thinks it's necessary, they may raise your dosage by 2.5mg every four weeks, reaching up to 7.5mg, 10mg, 12.5mg, and a maximum of 15mg. Not everyone needs higher doses for Mounjaro to work effectively.

This gradual dose increase, called titration, helps your body adjust to the medicine over time, reducing the risk or intensity of side effects.

How you will be able to get Mounjaro weight loss injections

If you’re looking to get Mounjaro for weight loss, you would need to look at online clinics, like ourselves, who offer private prescriptions for weight loss treatments. By completing a quick and easy consultation, one of our prescribing pharmacists will see if a weight loss treatment is the right choice for you.

Once both you and your prescriber are happy, we’ll deliver your treatment discreetly to your door.

Healthy lifestyle

We’ll keep you informed with any new details about Mounjaro in this guide, so remember to check back for updates!

Alexandra Moses - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 15 February 2024
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