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The Programme

FAQs

The SemaPen Programme

1. Why choose SemaPen?

Most companies supplying Wegovy online are pharmacy businesses.
We are different.The SemaPen team are all trained weight management clinicians, not pharmacists supported by a GP or a dietician.
This gives you access to a multi-disciplinary weight management team of expert doctors, psychologists, dieticians and specialist nurses who have been helping patients achieve their weight loss goals over the past 15 years.

Unlike others, we can assess and signpost patients to a full range of treatments from bariatric surgery through to weight loss pens like Wegovy plus supportive care, psychological and dietary advice.
We believe this provide clients with an unrivalled level of assistance that’s delivered by real experts.

The SemaPen programme combines the latest and most effective medications with real-time monitoring using cloud-linked smart scales we supply as part of the programme. You don’t even have to remember to report in yourself for us to be able to check things are going well, and intervene with helpful advice if they’re not.

You can contact us 24/7 online without the need to book appointments or online consultations. With great support from experts, our unique digital platform will help you reach your health goals.

 

2. Am I suitable for the SemaPen programme?

Wegovy (semaglutide) is approved for use in adults with a BMI of 30 or higher, although there are certain medical conditions that would make Wegovy treatment inadvisable.

This BMI cut off is lowered to 27  for those who also have at least one weight-related condition.  Some examples include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnoea, gastro-oesophageal reflux, weight-related depression or joint pain.  We will ask you about this as part of the onboarding process.

People of certain ethnic origins (Asian, Black Afro-Caribbean, Arabs) are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular complications of obesity at lower BMIs than Caucasians and this may be taken into account when deciding if you are suitable for treatment with Wegovy.

Complete our free, online medical questionnaire to determine whether you are suitable for the SemaPen programme.

 

3. Why does Wegovy have to be given as an injection?

The active drug in Wegovy is semaglutide which is available to treat obesity in both a tablet form (Rybelsus) and as an injection (Wegovy). The problem is that results with the tablet are not nearly as good as when semaglutide is injected.

The injection is self-administered at home once a week. We’ll provide you with all of the equipment you need to do this, including ultra-fine needles and a sharps bin. The injection is given just under the skin in the abdomen, arm or upper thigh. You don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse to do this. We have a great training video by our nurse Davina that you can find here.

 

4. What is the difference between Ozempic and Wegovy?

Semaglutide has two main benefits. One is that it helps bring diabetes under control. The other is that it causes weight loss (especially at higher doses). The manufacturers of semaglutide obtained two separate licences, one for each kind treatment. Semaglutide used to treat diabetes is branded Ozempic, but when it is used under a licence to treat obesity it is branded Wegovy.

Whilst both Ozempic and Wegovy contain the same active ingredient semaglutide, Ozempic is not available at the higher 1.7mg and 2.4mg doses that have been shown to be the most effective doses for weight loss.

At SemaPen we made a conscious decision not to offer Ozempic for weight loss and we felt this was unethical profiteering which predictably led to a shortage of the drug for patients who needed it to treat their diabetes.

5. How do I get in touch with you? Can I get to speak to a SemaPen expert face to face?

Yes.  The SemaPen app gives you access to our specialists using SMS, WhatsApp and an online chat function. We are automatically alerted by our system if things are not going according to plan and will reach out to you with help.

However, if you felt you need some extra support with your diet or your relationship with food and would value a confidential 30 minute one-to-one online consultation with one of our dieticians or psychologists we can also set this up for you. These face to face private consultations are chargeable and can be booked through your personal dashboard on the SemaPen app.

6. Why is it necessary to take Wegovy for 12 months?

Wegovy will start to work within a week of starting the injections and so you may be tempted to think it would be OK to take it for just a few months and then stop. This is a bad idea for three reasons.

  •  You will not have benefited from the most powerful effects of Wegovy, because you’ll still be on a weaker strength pen.
  •  You will almost certainly regain most of the weight you’d lost and quite quickly.
  • You won’t have got your head into the right mindset that acknowledges the need for lifestyle change to achieve a durable long-term result. This is crucial.

Try not to think of Wegovy as a short-term quick fix, but more of a means to help you improve your long-term emotional and physical well-being.

7. Can I spread the cost of Wegovy?

Yes.
We only ask you to pay 1 month at a time, so this helps to spread the cost of the 12 month course of treatment.

And remember, you can cancel at anytime if you feel the Semapen programme is not for you

8. Are there any charges for early cancellation?

If you cancel your subscription within the first 3 months, we will recover the cost of the Withings smart scales that we supplied to you when you joined the programme, along with a fee (£30) to cover our admin and distribution costs.

If you cancel after 3 months, there are no cancellation charges to pay and you are free to keep the smart scales.

9. What happens if I go on holiday? Can I pause my subscription for Wegovy?

Yes.

You will receive your next Wegovy pen automatically about a week before the current pen runs out.
This may enable you to take the new pen on holiday with you and continue using Wegovy.
We provide you with a travel card that explains to the authorities why you will be carrying needles and the Wegovy pen.

If you are going away for an extended period (or you wish to stop Wegovy whilst you are away) you can pause your subscription by logging into your personal dashboard on the SemaPen app.

When you restart, you can select a lower dose than before to give your body a chance to get used to Wegovy again.

10. Tell me about the Money-Back Guarantee

We are so confident that Wegovy will help you that we are prepared to refund the subscriptions of people who complete the 12-month SemaPen Programme and who do not lose at least 5% of their starting body weight.

To qualify for a refund you need to have demonstrated that you have engaged with the Programme (for example by registering the smart scales and using them regularly); that you have responded to the advice our support team gave when they interact with you; and that you have followed the monthly treatment schedule without any gaps in treatment. The amount refunded will be proportionate to how much weight loss you achieved. Full details can be found in out T&Cs.

11. Can people with diabetes go on the SemaPen Programme?

Yes, but some special precautions are needed in patients taking insulin, sulphonylureas and DPP4 inhibitors (see below).

The main worry is the risk of Wegovy-induced severe low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) when the drug is taken together with other diabetes treatments that lower blood sugar such as insulin, sulphonylureas (eg gliclazide and glipizide) or another GLP1 agonists with a similar action to Wegovy. Unpredictable low blood sugars could risk injury through falls and make daily activities such as driving or operating machinery hazardous. For this reason we currently do not allow patients on insulin or sulphonylureas to join the SemaPen programme.

Another class of diabetes drug known as DPP4-Inhibitors (these drugs usually end in ‘gliptin’) work by preventing the breakdown of GLP1, so concurrent use with Wegovy (a synthetic GLP1) is not recommended.

If you want to join the SemaPen programme and are taking a DPP4 inhibitor please ask your GP or diabetes nurse to stop it and put you on a safe alternative such as metformin if possible.

12. Is the SemaPen Programme suitable for teenagers and adolescents?

We believe there is a real need for effective intervention to help young people who are living with obesity.
Clinical trials show that semaglutide used in combination with lifestyle intervention is a safe and effective treatment in adolescents aged 12 to <18 with a BMI above the 85th percentile and at least one weight-related medical condition [6].

Those taking the drug for a year lost almost 17% total bodyweight more than others taking a placebo (dummy) injection and who just received lifestyle intervention

[6] Weghuber D et al (2022) “Once-weekly semaglutide in adolescents with obesity” New England Journal of Medicine
https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2208601

13. Can I get Wegovy on the NHS?

It is likely that Wegovy will be made available on the NHS at some point, but NICE has advised that NHS patients must have a BMI greater than 35 AND at least one weight-related medical condition such as type 2 diabetes [5].
It is only under exceptional circumstances that the NHS will prescribe Wegovy to people with a BMI of 30-35, even if they do have medical conditions.

These criteria are significantly higher than those permitted under Wegovy’s licence, which allows self-funded treatment in patients with a BMI as low as 27- 30.

[5] https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/nice-recommends-new-drug-for-people-living-with-obesity

14. How long will it take for me to receive my weight loss pen and scales?

Because of worldwide shortages of Wegovy the UK launch is a ‘constrained’ launch. What this means is that we’ll be receiving Wegovy supplies in relatively small batches each month that are unlikely to meet demand. We hope this situation will improve later in 2024.

Until then, delivery times could vary significantly. Some customers may receive their orders quickly, while others might experience a wait ranging from a few weeks to up to three months. Your patience during this period is appreciated and we want to assure you that we’re exploring all avenues to make sure our patients will receive enough pens to enable them to complete the 12 month SemaPen programme and to increase the supply of medication to our patients.

15. What should I do if my scales or medication don’t arrive, or if they arrive damaged?

Weight loss pens become your property when you pay for them, so in the unlikely event of a prolonged delay in delivery, loss of items, or transit damage to your order, please contact the Customer Services Department of the courier company responsible for the delivery within three working days. Please note that failure to take delivery of goods we send you or providing incorrect delivery details may result in a loss of goods without refund entitlement.

In addition to the above actions you must take, please let us know of any problems via the SemaPen app and we’ll do our best to assist you.