Positioning pharmacy as an effective option to bariatric surgery

Nov 2012

Recent NHS figures show that the number of people undergoing bariatric surgery has quadrupled in the last 5 years – from 1,573
people in 2006-07 to 6,723 in 2011-12.
Although bariatric surgery is very effective at producing rapid weight loss that causes type 2 diabetes to go into remission, it comes with a multitude of problems including high morbidity and mortality risk, prohibitive initial and followup costs and limited availability. However, there is a readily available alternative to bariatric surgery that is evidence-based, safer, much
more cost-effective and one where pharmacies are playing an active part: Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCDs) properly monitored by healthcare professionals.
The rise in bariatric surgery has led to prominent pharmacy figures Mike Holden, chief executive of NPA, and Ajit Malhi, AAH
Pharmaceuticals’ head of marketing services, arguing the case for pharmacy which is playing an increasingly prominent role in tackling obesity in the community, as part of the public health and Healthy Living Pharmacy drive.
With over 2000 pharmacies offering the Lipotrim VLCD programme, overweight people have ready access to a pharmacist who can not only help them reduce weight, but also assist them adopt healthier lifestyles, change eating and exercise habits and pre-empt or control existing diabetes.
Pharmacists therefore deserve considerable recognition for providing a service capable of promoting remission of type 2 diabetes and relief of co-morbidities, where present, without depleting the assets of the NHS. And, crucially, praise for the effective reatment of excess weight in hundreds of thousands of patients, where documentation of weight loss represents evidence for the value of pharmacy.