Can you get Saxenda® for free?
Reviewed by our clinical team
Saxenda® is a weight loss treatment prescribed to people with high BMIs. BMI is your body mass index - this is a measurement used to work out if you’re a healthy weight for your height.
The treatment comes in the form of an injection (pen), which you self-administer daily. The active ingredient in the medication is called liraglutide. It works by suppressing your appetite, making you feel less hungry and fuller for longer after meals.
Like most weight loss treatments, Saxenda® works best when it’s combined with a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity. It’s been proven to help up to 85% of people following that advice, to lose weight.
Saxenda® is available on the NHS, but it’s usually prescribed by specialist weight management services, which your GP might refer you to. In this article we’re going to explore who might be able to get Saxenda® for free, and where you can access the treatment privately.
Who is Saxenda® suitable for?
Saxenda® isn’t suitable for everybody trying to lose weight. It can only be prescribed for people with:
- A BMI of 30 and over
- A BMI of 27 to 30 and have a weight-related ‘co-morbidity’ (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnoea)
If you don’t meet these criteria, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to access Saxenda® privately. You can find out more about other weight loss treatments here.
Who can get Saxenda® on the NHS?
Saxenda® can be prescribed on the NHS, but only through a specialist weight management service. Typically, it would only be prescribed if:
- Diet and exercise haven’t made a change on their own
- A treatment like Orlistat (Xenical) hasn’t worked
- Weight loss surgery isn’t an option
On top of these criteria, to qualify for the NHS service, you’d also have to have all of the following:
- A BMI of 35 or more or a BMI of 32.5 or more and be of south Asian, Chinese, black African or African-Caribbean origin
- A high risk of cardiovascular disease, e.g., heart attacks or strokes
To be treated by an NHS specialist weight management service you’d need to be referred by your GP or another clinician. If you’re referred to one of these services, there might be a waiting list. And it’s worth noting that the specialists may decide that another treatment is more suitable for you than Saxenda®.
If you’re prescribed Saxenda® on the NHS, it will be free, but you’ll have to pay your prescription fee (unless you’re exempt).
Can my NHS GP prescribe Saxenda®?
NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, advises against your NHS GP prescribing Saxenda®. It recommends that the NHS only prescribe the treatment through a ‘specialist multidisciplinary tier 3 weight management service’.
If you’re not using the NHS, you can access Saxenda® privately with a prescription from a private GP or a prescribing pharmacist.
Getting Saxenda® privately
Other than the NHS, the only way to access Saxenda® in the UK is through a private service, which means you’ll have to pay for the treatment. There are lots of clinics that offer Saxenda®, alongside other weight loss treatments. It’s important you choose a regulated and trusted provider – whether it’s online or you have a face-to-face appointment.
If you’re getting Saxenda® through a private service, the treatment cost might vary.
Here at Online Doctor your starter pack will cost £149, and the maintenance pack will be £239. Each pack should last a month. These prices are the same if you’re using the LloydsPharmacy Medicated Weight Loss Service, which is an in-store service.
Saxenda® from LloydsPharmacy & Online Doctor
You can request Saxenda® online through Online Doctor. You’ll have to answer a few simple questions to make sure the treatment is right for you. If approved, you can pick up the treatment in-pharmacy, where the team will also do a BMI check.
f you’d rather have a face-to-face appointment to discuss the treatment, you can use the LloydsPharmacy Medicated Weight Loss Service.