A jab to reduce the blood sugar levels of people with type 2 diabetes has been given the green light by regulators.
The weekly jab can be self-administered by people in their own homes.
Tirzepatide made headlines earlier this year when a study of more than 2,500 people found those given the highest dose lost an average of almost four stones.
But the drug was principally developed to reduce the blood sugar of people with type 2 diabetes.
The injection has now been given the go-ahead, for use in people with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Health watchdog NICE will decide whether to actually make the injection available to patients with type 2 diabetes in England and Wales next April.
Volunteers who took the highest does of tirzepatide, 15mg, lost an average of 3st 10lb
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high.
It can cause symptoms like excessive thirst, needing to pee a lot and tiredness. It can also increase your risk of getting serious problems with your eyes, heart and nerves.
It’s a lifelong condition that can affect your everyday life. You may need to change your diet, take medicines and have regular check-ups.
It’s caused by problems with a chemical in the body (hormone) called insulin. It’s often linked to being overweight or inactive, or having a family history of type 2 diabetes.
Responding to the announcement, Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, who is trialling the drug, said: ‘It is great to see additional therapies which not only lower sugar levels markedly, but also have great weight loss benefits, added to the diabetes toolbox to help improve the lives of many of people living with type 2 diabetes.
‘The approval of tirzepatide is important as UK weight and diabetes levels continue to rise.’
Tirzepatide, which comes in an auto-injector so that people do not have to see the needle when they jab their arm, works by boosting cell receptors in the body which play a role in regulating blood sugar.
The drug is also said by experts to suppress people’s appetites.
A study earlier this year, involving 2,539 overweight and obese people, found those given the highest doses in an injection lost more than a fifth of their body weight in little over a year.
Weight reductions of up to three stones and 10 pounds (24kg) were achieved, which is similar to those seen in people given bariatric surgery to make their stomach smaller.
Side effects of the injections include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, but these tend to be mild and moderate.
Experts expect tens of thousands of people to benefit from the treatment, whose brand name is Mounjaro.
People with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes who cannot use metformin, such as people with kidney problems, can use the jab on its own.
Other people who take metformin can also inject themselves with Tirzepatide, while using other medications at the same time.
A spokesman for the MHRA said: ‘We are pleased to confirm that we have authorised Mounjaro (tirzepatide) – a new class of treatment for adults with insufficiently controlled type 2 diabetes.
‘No medicine would be approved unless it meets our expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.’
Douglas Twenefour, head of care at Diabetes UK, said: ‘Supporting people to manage their weight and blood sugar levels is key to preventing devastating complications of type 2 diabetes.
‘But we know this can often be a major challenge, so we welcome this latest treatment option.’