Boss of firm behind 'miracle' weight loss jab hints Government IS looking at ... trends now
Weight loss jabs may be offered to fat Brits on benefits under plans to get millions back to work, a drug giant has hinted.
Novo Nordisk, its manufacturer, today confirmed it is in talks with the Government over schemes to 'address obesity'.
Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, chief executive of the Danish pharmaceutical titan, said it was for ministers to decide how the once-a-week jabs were used.
It comes after leaked documents suggested that Mr Jørgensen had advised officials to target people on the 'tipping point of employability' – where obesity was the main driver for them leaving the job market.
Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, chief executive of the Danish pharmaceutical titan, said it was for ministers to decide how the once-a-week jabs were used
Semaglutide — the powerful ingredients behind Wegovy — has ushered in a new era in the war on obesity. The treatment, loved by Hollywood stars, spur weight loss by mimicking the actions of a hormone released in the gut after eating, called GLP-1
Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme whether these reports were accurate, Mr Jørgensen said: 'Yes, we have had meetings with the British Government talking in general about how do you address obesity.
'We discussed partnerships in different countries where there is an open attitude to looking at obesity.
'I cannot go into specific details about it.'
Pressed on whether he had discussed profiling certain groups, he said: 'We don't profile specific individuals, we can only talk to our products based on the approved label.
'Then it's up to the individual healthcare systems to assess how you want to use your medicines, how you want to bring it to certain patient groups.'
He added: 'I have had meetings with the British government on obesity, I cannot get into more specific details around it.'
Internal documents obtained by the Observer last year detailed that Mr Jørgensen had told then-Health Secretary Steve Barclay that there was 'need' to 'target the right cohort to drive labour market activity, such as those on the tipping point of employability where obesity is the driver to leaving the labour market'.
Pinder Sahota, corporate vice-president of Novo Nordisk UK, said this could be done using 'data from the Department for Work and Pensions' which 'could help profile those who are most likely to return to the labour market'.
The documents, obtained through Freedom of Information rules, state that England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, treasury officials and Professor John Bell, a geneticist at Oxford University, who oversees its partnership with Novo Nordisk, were also in attendance.
The Department of Health said at the time that it had no plans to use Department for Work and Pensions data to target benefit claimants with anti-obesity drugs.
The meeting, which took place in March, was coordinated by Mr Barclay to discuss obesity care in the UK after Wegovy was recommended for use on the NHS by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the newspaper reported.
That same month, The Times reported that millions could be offered the jab to tackle obesity and help 'get benefit claimants back to work'.
In England, 26 per cent of adults are obese — meaning their BMI is above 30 — while a further 38 per cent are overweight, which is classed as a BMI between 25 and 30.
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