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Can I buy Mounjaro for weight loss in the UK?

Can I buy Mounjaro for weight loss in the UK?

Mounjaro is a once-a-week injection for type-2 diabetes and weight loss that helps lower your blood sugar. It contains the active ingredient tirzepatide in a pre-filled pen. To be eligible to use Mounjaro for weight loss, you must have obesity (a BMI of 30 or above) or a health condition or risk factors that are affected by weight and a BMI of at least 27.

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

Here we’ll tell you more about Mounjaro: how it works, why it helps people lose weight, and if you can buy it without a prescription.

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Medically reviewed by
Dr Alexandra Cristina Cowell
Writer & Clinical Content Reviewer
on August 11, 2023.
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What is Mounjaro?

Mounjaro is a new brand name for a medicine called tirzepatide. It’s used for type-2 diabetes and comes as a pre-filled injection pen that you use once a week. It attaches to two different gut hormone receptors called GIP and GLP-1, which stimulate the release of insulin and help control blood sugar levels, representing a new class of diabetes medication. It also reduces appetite and allows you to feel fuller for longer.

Mounjaro is manufactured by Eli Lilly and is currently the first and only approved once-weekly GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonist, targeting the body’s natural incretin hormones. Just like liraglutide and semaglutide, which are also type-2 diabetes treatments, it has now been licensed and approved for use as a weight loss treatment.

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How does Mounjaro work?

Mounjaro contains tirzepatide, which works as a dual GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonist. It attaches to receptors for GIP and GLP-1 hormones in your body. When tirzepatide attaches to these receptors, it stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas, helping to control blood glucose levels.

Tirzepatide also increases the levels of adiponectin, a hormone that plays a role in regulating blood glucose and metabolism. This means it can control your appetite by emptying your stomach more slowly, which helps you eat less frequently because you feel full for longer.

What doses does Mounjaro come in?

Mounjaro offers a range of options for weight management, provided in pre-filled injection pens containing 2.5mg, 5mg, 7.5mg, 10mg, 12.5mg, and 15mg of tirzepatide. These pens are administered under the skin in areas such as the stomach, thigh, or upper arm.

People would typically begin with a weekly injection of 2.5mg for four weeks, then progress to a 5mg weekly dosage. Adjustments in dosage can occur at intervals of at least four weeks, with the possibility of increasing up to the maximum of 15mg per week, as advised by your doctor.

Overweight women using Mounjaro who are also using oral forms of contraceptives are advised to consider using a barrier method of contraception, like a condom, or changing to a non-oral contraceptive. This is recommended for four weeks after starting Mounjaro and for four weeks after any dose increases, as Mounjaro may influence the efficacy of oral contraceptives.

Are there other medications that use Tirzepatide?

No. Mounjaro is unique because it’s the only diabetic weight loss medication that activates both GLP-1 and GIP receptors for better blood sugar control and reduced appetite. It's a relatively new class of diabetic medication, and has been fast tracked for approval as a weight loss treatment by the UK government due to the positive results shown in studies.

Who can use Mounjaro?

Mounjaro, primarily for type-2 diabetes, is now available in the UK under specific NHS guidelines. To qualify, you must meet certain criteria set by NICE. This includes people who:

  • have tried diabetes treatments that haven’t worked or can’t be tolerated;
  • have a BMI of 35 or higher and have issues linked to obesity; or:
    have serious health risks that weight loss would help with.

Mounjaro was approved for weight loss by MHRA in November 2023 and is now accessible with a prescription at UK pharmacies.

It’s not for those under 18, pregnant or breastfeeding, or allergic to its ingredients. If you have a family history of certain cancers, kidney issues, a history of pancreatitis, digestion problems, or diabetic retinopathy, speak with your doctor before considering Mounjaro.

What side effects will I get with Mounjaro?

An uncommon but potentially very serious side effect of Mounjaro is an inflamed pancreas (acute pancreatitis). If you have severe stomach pain reaching through to your back, nausea, and vomiting, contact your doctor immediately. This is why, if you’ve already had pancreatitis, you should avoid using Mounjaro.

Other common side effects you may experience on Mounjaro are:

  • low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) - especially when used with other diabetic medications, so your dose may need to be lowered
  • nausea, sickness *
  • diarrhoea *
  • constipation
  • headaches
  • allergic reaction
  • indigestion, bloating, gas, burping, heartburn, acid reflux
  • fatigue
  • fast pulse
  • increased levels of pancreatic enzymes in the blood

* These usually happen when you first start using Mounjaro but typically pass after a couple of weeks.

Will Mounjaro help me lose weight?

Tirzepatide binds to GLP-1 and GIP hormone receptors to produce more insulin and also sends signals to your brain to tell it that you’ve eaten and that you’re full by slowing down the production of glucagon. This effect helps you feel fuller for longer, slows down the emptying of your stomach and so reduces your appetite. If you’re on a new low-calorie diet, this biochemical process should help you stick to your new diet.

There have been plenty of studies that have looked at the efficacy of tirzepatide, with some comparing it to other GLP-1 receptor agonists. Up to 90% of people taking Mounjaro reached an A1C (blood sugar test) of under 7%, and there was a weight loss range of 12lb (5mg) to 25lb (15mg).

In a study comparing tirzepatide to semaglutide (Ozempic), tirzepatide was found to be superior to semaglutide at all doses in reducing blood sugar levels and having a greater reduction in body weight too.

Why is Mounjaro now popular for losing weight?

Compared to other weight loss drugs and type-2 diabetic treatments that are used ‘off-label’, Mounjaro is quite innovative in that it uses a double-agonist approach, which appears to result in greater weight loss than single-agonist treatments like saxenda. It’s now followed in the footsteps of liraglutide and semaglutide and is licensed as a weight loss treatment. Due to the initial positive results shown in studies, it could well become a first-choice — due to its efficacy on both blood sugar levels and weight loss.

Comparison studies have shown an average of patients’ A1C being lowered by 2.1% (5 mg, 10 mg, and 15 mg) on Mounjaro compared to 1.9% (1 mg) on Ozempic. Mounjaro also led to a 17–25 pound weight loss, while Ozempic resulted in a 13-pound weight loss.

Where can I buy Mounjaro for weight loss?

Where can I buy Mounjaro for weight loss?

Mounjaro is now available in the UK for weight loss. If you get a prescription, you can access it via a local or online pharmacy. However, you do need to have tried other treatments first, as well as meeting the specific criteria in order to gain a prescription.

Can I get Mounjaro without a prescription?

No. Mounjaro is only available with a prescription, so you’ll need a doctor to prescribe it for you. This is because it’s only approved for the treatment of weight loss if you meet the criteria discussed above, and type-2 diabetes, so a clinician needs to assess if Mounjaro is suitable and safe for you. They’ll ensure that you’re using the right dose to manage your weight loss and blood glucose levels effectively.

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