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Can I buy Rybelsus for weight loss in the UK?

Can I buy Rybelsus for weight loss in the UK?

Rybelsus is a tablet you take once a day to control your blood sugar for type-2 diabetes. The active ingredient in Rybelsus is semaglutide, which you may recognise as the active ingredient in the weight-loss medication Wegovy. It’s also available as another type-2 diabetes treatment called Ozempic. Although you can’t buy Rybelsus for weight loss over-the-counter in the UK, it may be available to you when it’s prescribed off-licence.

Alexandra Cristina Cowell
Medically reviewed by
Alexandra Cristina Cowell, Writer & Clinical Content Reviewer

Here we’ll talk you through what Rybelsus is, how it works for both diabetes and weight loss, and the process of it being prescribed, as well as other forms of semaglutide.

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Medically reviewed by
Dr Alexandra Cristina Cowell
Writer & Clinical Content Reviewer
on August 14, 2023.
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What is Rybelsus?

Rybelsus is one of the brand names for semaglutide. Before Rybelsus, the only way to take semaglutide was as an injection (Wegovy and Ozempic). The pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk developed a tablet form to target patients who found it difficult to use injections. It’s currently the first and only oral GLP-1 receptor agonist in the world.

It’s used for type-2 diabetes because the active ingredient works in several ways to help lower your blood sugar levels. Its main job is to increase insulin, but it also has the added bonus of curbing your appetite, which can help you to lose weight because you don’t feel as hungry as often. Weight loss can be good for patients with type-2 diabetes, as it tends to go hand-and-hand with lower blood sugar levels and also improves overall cardiovascular health.

How does Rybelsus work?

Semaglutide acts like a hormone called GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) that our bodies naturally produce. Rybelsus activates receptors in your body called GLP-1 receptors, which are found in different parts of your body, like the pancreas, brain, and stomach.

Rybelsus tells your pancreas to release more insulin, a hormone that helps lower blood sugar levels after you eat. It also sends signals to your brain to reduce your appetite and make you feel fuller for longer. This can help you eat less and make healthier food choices, like sticking to a low-calorie diet. Rybelsus can slow down the emptying of food from your stomach. This means that the food stays in your stomach for a longer time, which can make you feel satisfied and help control your appetite.

What dose of semaglutide does Rybelsus come in?

Rybelsus comes in three strengths of semaglutide for type-2 diabetes. The starting dose of Rybelsus is one 3 mg tablet once a day, for one month. This will then increase to one 7 mg tablet a day. If a 7 mg dose isn’t enough to manage your blood sugar effectively, your clinician may increase your dose to 14 mg once a day.

What other medications use the active ingredient semaglutide?

Both Wegovy and Ozempic contain semaglutide as their active ingredient. While Wegovy is specifically licensed for weight loss, Ozempic is only approved for treating type-2 diabetes (though it may be prescribed off-label for obesity if you meet certain criteria).

Both medications are administered through injections once a week and are available in different dosages. Typically, patients start with the lowest dose and gradually increase it to a manageable level. Wegovy comes in five strengths: 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg, 1.7mg, and 2.4mg, while Ozempic has four strengths: 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg and 2mg.

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Who can use Rybelsus?

Rybelsus has been approved as a suitable treatment for people who have type-2 diabetes and have high blood sugar. It’s best used alongside a low calorie diet and exercise regimen or other diabetic treatments to help keep your blood sugar levels under control. Rybelsus can be used on its own but this is usually only when you can’t tolerate or take metformin due to conflicting medications

For this treatment to be prescribed ‘off-label’ for weight loss, your clinician will check that you meet the criteria. You may have:

  • A BMI of over 30
  • A BMI of 27 or above with a weight-related health condition
  • not managed to lose weight through diet and exercise alone
  • a particular ethnic background (South Asian, East Asian, Middle Eastern, Black African, or African-Caribbean), the BMI threshold may be lowered

Most semaglutide treatments for weight loss are used for around two years, and they should be used alongside a low-calorie diet and exercise.

Will Rybelsus help me lose weight?

Will Rybelsus help me lose weight?

Rybelus has been clinically proven to be an effective treatment to help you lose weight. In a random, placebo-controlled trial called OASIS 1, oral semaglutide was assessed for the treatment of non-diabetic overweight adults. The results showed that the group taking the oral pill experienced an average weight loss of 15.1%, while the placebo group only lost 2.4%.  

Where can I buy Rybelsus for weight loss?

You can’t simply buy Rybelsus for weight loss in the UK. You can only get it on prescription, and only if you’ve been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. 

However, if you do meet certain criteria, and other weight loss management treatments haven’t worked, you may be prescribed it ‘off-licence’ or ‘off-label’ by a clinician privately. 

Can I get Rybelsus as an injection?

Rybelsus is unique in that it’s the first oral GLP-1 receptor agonist, and it was created for that purpose: to provide an alternative to the injections that were already on the market. If you’re interested in taking semaglutide as a once-weekly injection instead of a daily tablet, Wegovy and Ozempic may be an option for you. Wegovy is the only MHRA-approved treatment for weight loss, and it’s available as a pre-filled pen with doses of 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg, 1.7mg, and 2.4mg.

Can I get Rybelsus without a prescription?

Can I get Rybelsus without a prescription?

Like other semaglutide medications, you will need a prescription for Rybelsus. It’s not available over-the-counter. The prescriber will want to make sure it’s safe for you first. Answer a few questions using our online consultation, and our expert clinicians can prescribe Rybelsus for you as well as show you other suitable options too.

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