Rybelsus is the brand name for oral semaglutide, which comes in tablet form. This medication is licensed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and has been shown to help patients control blood sugar and achieve weight loss (1). You can buy Rybelsus for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in the UK if you have a prescription, or get it via the NHS if you’re eligible.
Rybelsus is not currently licensed for weight loss in the UK.
Rybelsus (semaglutide) is a medication that was originally used to control blood sugars for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists.
GLP-1 hormones are normally produced by the body to help to regulate glucose levels in the blood. They work by telling the pancreas to produce more insulin (a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy) and slowing the absorption of glucose from the stomach.
Rybelsus mimics the effects of natural GLP-1 by binding to GLP-1 receptors in the pancreas, which triggers the pancreas to produce more insulin and slows down the absorption of glucose in the stomach. This helps to lower the levels of glucose in the blood, thus improving glucose control.
Additionally, Rybelsus also suppresses appetite by binding to receptors in the brain, which can lead to weight loss.
Rybelsus (the brand name for once-daily, oral semaglutide tablets) when prescribed to patients with type 2 diabetes has been shown to lead to weight loss. (1) (2)
Rybelsus is currently not licensed for the treatment of weight loss, but oral semaglutide is currently being studied for weight loss, at a higher dose.(3)
If you would like to start a total diet replacement programme it is important for you to speak to your GP before starting. In research trials (5) all type 2 diabetic medication was stopped on the day that patient started the 800 kcal programme, however ultimately this decision is up to your GP or diabetes care team and you should not make any medication adjustments without speaking to them.
Rybelsus is an oral medication (tablets) which should be taken daily. You should take your daily tablet on an empty stomach, but it can be taken at any time of the day.
Technically the definition of type 2 diabetes remission is having blood sugars within the normal range, without glycaemic medications. As Rybelsus is intended to help control blood sugar levels, it is not possible to be in remission whilst taking the medication.
At present, Rybelsus is only licensed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in the UK.
Oral semaglutide at a higher dose than Rybelsus is currently being studied for weight loss (3), however at present this medication is not commercially available nor has it been licensed for use for weight loss in the UK.
Rybelsus is recommended for adults with type 2 diabetes that cannot be controlled by other glycaemic medications. For example:
Rybelsus should be used alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise. You should not use Rybelsus if you are allergic to any of its ingredients, including semaglutide. It is also not suitable if you have type 1 diabetes.
The most common side effects of semaglutide, including in its oral form (Rybelsus), are gastrointestinal, such as nausea, stomach pain, diarrhoea, decreased appetite, vomiting, and constipation. Semaglutide can cause more serious complications such as pancreatitis and kidney injury, but these are infrequent.
In one study, patients with type 2 diabetes lost an average of 4.4kg after 26 weeks. These patients also experienced significantly greater decreases in HbA1c compared to those on liraglutide (another type of GLP-1 medication) and those in the placebo group. (4)
The typical Rybelsus treatment plan involves increasing dosage once per month until you reach the maximum dose. This is done to reduce the risk of side effects, which tend to be worse around dose escalation. All Rybelsus patients start on 3mg. If, after one month, your side effects have been manageable and you'd like to increase dosage, the next would be 7mg. After another month you'll have the option to increase to 14mg. Dose changes should always be made between yourself and your prescriber.
You may be able to buy Rybelsus online from an online pharmacy if you have a prescription. You should check that any online pharmacy you purchase from is registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
Yes, patients who are eligible for treatment of type 2 diabetes with Rybelsus may be able to access it through the NHS, though this is dependent on local policies and protocols.