You can buy orlistat (brand name: Xenical/Alli) as an over-the-counter alternative to Ozempic in the UK.
However, orlistat is a very different type of weight-loss medication that isn’t as effective as Ozempic in supporting weight loss.
Additionally, Ozempic isn’t approved for weight loss in the UK. It’s only available as a medication for people living with type 2 diabetes.
So, if you’re looking for an over-the-counter weight-loss medication in the UK, orlistat is the only reasonable choice.
It’s worth noting that Wegovy, the brand name for semaglutide that has been approved for weight loss, has now launched in the UK.
Wegovy is available on Second Nature via prescription alongside our award-winning weight-loss programme. Click on the button below to check your eligibility.
What’s the difference between orlistat and Ozempic?
Orlistat is a weight-loss medication approved for use in the UK. Ozempic is a medication for people living with type 2 diabetes and is only available with a prescription.
They are different medications with distinct dosing schedules, costs, and mechanisms of action on the body.
Orlistat is a lipase inhibitor. Lipases are gut enzymes that break down fat from food, enabling the gut to transport fat into the body to be burnt for energy or stored in our fat cells for later use.
Orlistat blocks lipases, preventing some of the dietary fat from our meals from being digested. This leads to fewer calories being absorbed, which can support weight loss.
Orlistat is a medication produced by two pharmaceutical companies in the UK:
- GlaxoSmithKline: Brand name Alli, 60 mg and available over the counter (no prescription)
- Roche: Brand name Xenical, 120 mg and available with a prescription
Ozempic is a weight-loss jab manufactured by Novo Nordisk. It’s a weekly weight-loss injection with semaglutide as the active ingredient.
Semaglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that helps reduce hunger and appetite, allowing you to eat fewer calories, lose weight, and manage your blood sugar levels.
How much do Ozempic and orlistat cost?
The over-the-counter version of orlistat will cost around £18 a month, so it’s a very affordable medication.
In comparison, buying Ozempic and the injectable pens required for four weeks would cost anywhere between £180 and £350 a month.
However, if prescribed Ozempic on the NHS, you’d only pay the base fee for a prescription of £9.95 in England.
Should I try orlistat or Ozempic for weight loss?
Orlistat is an affordable medication that is generally well-tolerated. However, it’s less effective than Ozempic. Ozempic is twice as effective as orlistat for weight loss after one year.
But Ozempic is not available for weight loss. The only weight-loss injections you can purchase in the UK are Wegovy and Saxenda as of December 2023.
So, if you’re looking for the most affordable weight-loss pill you can purchase over the counter, then orlistat could be an option.
However, if you have a higher budget and are looking for the most effective weight-loss injection in the UK, Wegovy is likely a better choice.
Wegovy’s not a magic pill
Semaglutide is designed as an additional tool for weight management and, in most cases, shouldn’t be considered a lifelong medication.
Instead, it should be used to help you kickstart your weight loss and healthy journey while you commit to living a healthier lifestyle.
Ideally, we’d be able to lose weight without medication and lifestyle changes would be enough to support weight loss in the long term.
We’d generally recommend trying Second Nature’s weight-loss programme before considering a weight-loss jab.
Changing your habits is the most sustainable way to achieve long-term weight loss, and it’s also less expensive.
At Second Nature, we’ve been trusted by the NHS since 2017 to support people with type 2 diabetes and obesity to lose weight, manage their blood sugar levels, and lead healthier lifestyles for the long term.
In 2022, the NHS published data in the BMJ that compared the weight loss outcomes of five providers in the National Diabetes Prevention Programme.
Second Nature was more than twice as effective at supporting weight loss than the other four providers.
However, if you’ve decided to try semaglutide but need support in making positive changes to your lifestyle, Second Nature could be an option for you. But it’s worth noting that we have strict eligibility criteria.