Experts have warned of the potentially life-threatening consequences of using prescription weight loss drugs without medical supervision

Professor Stephen Powis has expressed concern over reports of people using weight-loss drugs as “a quick fix” to lose weight get “beach-body ready” this summer.

Speaking to the NHS Confederation on Thursday, NHS England’s medical director said that the weight loss drugs “had clinical benefits” but he was alarmed to hear “reports of them being inappropriately used”.

Interest in weight loss medication has surged since the approval of Wegovy.

Wegovy can be prescribed to people with obesity on the NHS in England via specialist weight management clinics.

Wegovy contains semaglutide, an appetite supressant. Semaglutide is the active ingredient in the type 2 diabetes drug, Ozempic.

More recently, another anti-obesity drug, Mounjaro was approved.

“These are powerful medications that have side-effects and complications – and can in certain circumstances, be dangerous” Professor Powis said.

Recently, black market sales of semaglutide without a prescription have been identified across social media websites such as TikTok, and a BBC investigation found the drug being offered in beauty salons in London and Manchester.

Online pharmacies sell semaglutide injections for between £100 and £200. These are often prescribed without thoroughly checking the weight, physical and mental health of purchasers.

Wegovy can cause a range of side effects, which include nausea, bloating, and vomiting.

However, there can be more severe complications.

Dr Vicky Price, president-elect of the Society for Acute Medicine, said these included “serious, life-threatening complications, including inflammation of the pancreas gland and alterations in blood salt levels”.

Similarly, the Royal College of GPs noted it was “highly concerning” that patients were using semaglutide for unlicensed purposes and without clinical supervision.

“We would encourage patients to exercise caution when accessing medicine online and only use outlets that follow GMC (General Medical Council) remote prescribing guidelines and are approved by the CQC (Care Quality Commission).”

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