According to Reuters, on Thursday Eli Lilly announced that it will make its drug Mounjaro available to British patients within weeks of receiving approval, in a pre-filled injection pen, to treat obesity and diabetes.
In a statement, the US drug maker added that approval from the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) would make the UK the first major market to be supplied with the drug in the brand’s Kwikpen Multi-Shot Pen for added convenience.
Laura Steele, UK and Northern Europe lead at the drug maker, said, „This will enable Lilly to start supplying to the UK within weeks.“
Julian Beach, MHRA Interim Director of Quality and Access to Healthcare, said the pen would allow for convenient application and be suitable for weekly subcutaneous injection for one month of treatment.
The drug itself was approved by the UK regulator for weight loss in November, when the US Food and Drug Administration also granted approval for broader use under the brand name Zepbound. The US drug maker had put the product launch in the UK on hold while the injection pen was still under regulatory review.
Tirzepatide is the active ingredient in Mounjaro, which will compete in a booming weight loss market with Novo Nordisk’s injection drug Wegovy (Semaglutide). Both are suitable for weight loss in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.
Lilly previously stated that the injection device would be different from the pen used in the US for the weight loss drug.
The company also stated that the pen would be suitable for both patients with type 2 diabetes and patients with obesity in the UK. The drug class to which Mounjaro and Wegovy belong was initially developed to treat type 2 diabetes, but it was found to also promote weight loss by suppressing appetite and slowing digestion.
In other European markets – Germany, Switzerland, and Poland – Mounjaro was introduced before the UK. In these countries, the drug is packaged in vials and patients must draw the medication into syringes before injection.
Lilly told Reuters that they hope to receive approval for pre-filling the Kwikpen with Mounjaro in Europe by mid-year.
According to a 2019 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), nearly one-third of adults in the UK are obese, the highest rate in Europe. Obesity-related diseases account for 8.4% of healthcare spending, and in combination with reduced labor market performance, this reduces the UK’s economic output by 3.4%. Obesity is generally defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by David Evans, Bill Berkrot, and Tomasz Janowski)