Eli Lilly has received positive data for its experimental obesity therapies, but in the UK, it faced a setback as the cost-effectiveness watchdog NICE rejected the use of Mounjaro as a treatment for type II diabetes.
According to NICE, more evidence is needed regarding the clinical benefits and cost-effectiveness of Mounjaro (tirzepatide) before it can be recommended for NHS use. Mounjaro was previously approved by the MHRA as an adjunct to diet and exercise for overweight or obese individuals with type II diabetes, and it is also being developed as an obesity therapy.
Lilly aims to position Mounjaro as a later-line option for diabetic patients who have previously tried other GLP-1-targeting drugs. Currently, the NHS offers treatment options such as Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic, Lilly’s Trulicity, Novo Nordisk’s oral formulation of semaglutide called Rybelsus, or its injectable Saxenda.
While NICE acknowledges the need for new treatment options for type II diabetes, it highlighted gaps in the data for Mounjaro, making it challenging to assess its cost-effectiveness. Although trials demonstrated that Mounjaro was more effective than Ozempic or insulin therapy in controlling blood glucose and aiding weight loss, a meta-analysis suggesting its superiority to all GLP-1 drugs was deemed “uncertain.” Additionally, there was insufficient data on the long-term health benefits of Mounjaro compared to other GLP-1 agents.
“Type 2 diabetes is becoming more prevalent in society, so new treatment options are needed to help people with it to control their blood glucose levels. Our committee can see the promise in tirzepatide but it requires more evidence to be able to evaluate both its clinical and cost-effectiveness.”
– Helen Knight, NICE’s director of medicines evaluation
The draft guidance from NICE indicates that it has not yet been determined if Mounjaro represents value for money. The guidance is currently open for public comment, and Lilly has been requested to submit additional data for review before the next meeting in August. The final guidance is expected to be published in October.
NICE has also supported the use of Novo Nordisk’s higher-dose formulation of semaglutide, known as Wegovy, for individuals with obesity and at least one other weight-related health condition, including diabetes. However, supply constraints for the active ingredient have delayed the drug’s launch in the UK.
At the beginning of this month, the UK government initiated a pilot program worth £40 million, aiming to facilitate rapid access to the drug through general practitioners (GPs) once it is made accessible.
Based on data provided by the government, obesity incurs an annual cost of £6.5 billion for the NHS.