Can you get Saxenda on the NHS?

Dr Kathryn Basford

Medically reviewed by

Dr Kathryn Basford

Saxenda is available on the NHS, providing you fulfil a set of criteria. This includes having a high enough BMI or a high BMI with certain other health concerns.

Saxenda works by making you feel less hungry than normal as it contains the active ingredient liraglutide, which behaves like the natural appetite hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that regulates your appetite. It is a once-a-day self-administered injection from a special pre-filled pen. When it is combined with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity, Saxenda can be an effective way to lose weight.

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Is Saxenda available on the NHS?

Saxenda has been available on the NHS since 2020, but it is only available to adults who fulfil a strict set of criteria. It is offered exclusively through specialist multidisciplinary weight management services, known as ‘tier 3’.

Tier 3 services assist people with their diet, behaviours, and lifestyle to help them lose weight long-term. These services can also provide psychological support and, in some cases, supplementary drug therapies like Saxenda to assist in weight loss.

Because access to tier 3 services is variable across different regions, it can sometimes make getting Saxenda through the NHS difficult.

If you are struggling to get saxenda on the NHS, we may be able to provide it as long as it’s safe and suitable for you to take. All you need to do is complete a short consultation for our doctors to review. If it’s right for you, we can deliver it to your door, or you can collect it from your local Asda pharmacy ON your next shop.

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Is Saxenda free on the NHS?

Saxenda is free on the NHS for those who are eligible for it and who are exempt from paying for their prescriptions. However, if you are eligible but not exempt from paying, there is a prescription charge, which is currently £9.35 for each item prescribed.

If you are not eligible for Saxenda through the NHS but you have a high BMI, you can apply to get it through an online service like Asda Online Doctor for a fee.

Can my GP prescribe me Saxenda?

Your GP is highly unlikely to prescribe you Saxenda. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which provides the NHS with guidance, has advised GPs against prescribing Saxenda. Instead, they advised that NHS patients who may meet the criteria for Saxenda only be prescribed through specialist multidisciplinary tier 3 weight management services, who will assess referrals against special criteria.

What are the criteria to get Saxenda on the NHS?

Saxenda is available if you are an adult on the NHS through a tier 3 weight management service

Tier 3 weight management services help people achieve long-term weight loss using interventions including behaviours, lifestyle, and diet, as well as providing psychological support. If deemed appropriate, they can prescribe drug therapies like Saxenda to help patients lose weight.

Saxenda can be hard to access on the NHS for some people because access to tier 3 services varies across different regions.

If you are prescribed Saxenda, you will also need to follow a reduced-calorie diet and increase your physical activity whilst taking Saxenda. Without doing this, it may not be effective in helping you lose weight.

NHS criteria to be prescribed Saxenda

You may be able to get Saxenda through NHS tier 3 services providing you:

  • have not had success with diet and exercise changes
  • tried Orlistat, but it did not work for you or was unsuitable for you
  • are over 18 and under 75 years old
  • have a body-mass index (BMI) of 35 or more OR have a BMI of 32.5 or more and be of black African, African-Caribbean, Chinese, or south Asian origin
  • have high blood sugar (non-diabetic hyperglycaemia)
  • are at high risk of a heart attack, stroke, heart disease, or other heart problems

If you do not fulfil all of these criteria, you are likely to be refused Saxenda by the NHS.

Saxenda is not usually suitable for people who:

  • are pregnant and/or breastfeeding
  • have liver or kidney problems

This is because Saxenda may have a negative impact on pregnancy and/or breastfeeding, and if you have liver or kidney problems, it can make them worse.

Where can I buy Saxenda?

You can either get saxenda through the NHS if you are eligible or through an online doctor service, like Asda Online Doctor.

The NHS criteria for Saxenda is stricter as it is only available to those with very high BMIs over 32.5 or 35, depending on your ethnicity. You can request Saxenda through a private provider if you have a high BMI but do not meet the NHS criteria.

It is important to use confidential, authorised, and regulated health services such as Asda Online Doctor - Weight Loss to make sure the treatment you’re getting is safe and suitable for you. You may find Saxenda being offered at low prices in bulk quantities or from providers you have not heard of, but it is always best to use a trusted provider.

To request Saxenda from Asda Online Doctor, simply fill in a brief questionnaire, and your answers will be reviewed by one of our doctors, who can prescribe you Saxenda if it is an appropriate treatment for you.

Treatment with Saxenda can be more effective if dietary and lifestyle habits are worked on in addition to simply taking the medication. To ensure that you are not left alone, Asda Online Doctor Weight loss offers a free support package developed by an in-house nutritionist in collaboration with our doctors, as well as free regular medical check-ins throughout the treatment.

The criteria for getting Saxenda from a private prescription provider are different compared to getting it through the NHS. To get Saxenda through a private provider such as Asda Online Doctor, you must:

  • have a BMI of 30 or more OR
  • have a BMI of 27 or more, and have a weight-related health problem such as pre-diabetes, hypertension, or obstructive sleep apnoea

When prescribed Saxenda privately, you must also combine taking it with a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity for it to be effective. If you do not lose 5% or more of your body weight within 12 weeks of taking a 3mg/day dose of Saxenda, you should consult your prescriber, as you may need to try a different treatment.

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Why is Saxenda so expensive?

Saxenda is one of the first weight loss injections approved for use in the UK, so it is in high demand. This is because obesity is common in England, affecting about 28% of adults, according to the 2019 Health Survey.

Although Saxenda can seem expensive, it has been assessed and found to be cost-effective for the NHS by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for those who fulfil the criteria, follow a reduced-calorie diet, and increase their physical activity.

Where is the cheapest place to buy Saxenda in the UK?

Prices can vary greatly on Saxenda, particularly online, and delivery costs can be high from some pharmacies. At £55 for a single pen, £48 each when you buy 3, or £46 when you buy 5, Asda Online Doctor has one of the cheapest prices for Saxenda in the UK. We also offer FREE Royal Mail delivery and a Click and Collect service for orders of 3 and 5 pens.

Are there any other weight loss injections available on the NHS?

The NHS also provides Wegovy for people who are overweight. This refers to people with a BMI over 35 or between 30 and 35, if they have weight-related health concerns. Wegovy is only available on NHS prescription as part of a specific weight management programme. Eligibility for this programme may require attempting alternative weight loss methods through your GP before starting Wegovy.

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Medically reviewed by:
Dr Kathryn Basford

Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.

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Article created: 23 Aug 2023



(Reviews are for ZAVA UK)

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