NHS patients have started to receive a weight-loss pill which is a capsule that contains a gastric balloon filled with water.

The treatment is non-surgical and can be delivered in 15 minutes.

It has been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) and it’s designed to help make people feel fuller so they eat less.

Allurion is the company behind the pill and it said it’s been in talks with the NHS about rolling out the treatment since 2020, when it was approved.

Basingstoke Gazette: The pill takes 15 minutes to be deliveredThe pill takes 15 minutes to be delivered (Image: Allurion/PA Wire)

The first two NHS patients have been treated at Musgrove Park Hospital, part of Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

How does the weight-loss pill work?

The pill is different to some other gastric balloons as it doesn’t require surgery, endoscopy or anaesthesia to place it.

The balloon, tucked inside a capsule, is swallowed by the patient and filled with water during a 15-minute doctor’s visit.

The patient swallows the capsule which is attached to a thin tube.

An X-ray confirms the correct placement in the stomach and 550ml of water is put into the balloon via the tube.

A second X-ray then checks the balloon is full and sitting well in the stomach. The tube is then removed.

After around four months, a time-activated release valve automatically opens, allowing the water-filled balloon to empty and pass naturally through the gastrointestinal tract.

The device helps patients lose an average of 10-15% of their body weight after 16 weeks, data suggests.

People managed to keep 95% of their weight off for a year after treatment.

A nutrition and lifestyle programme is provided by Allurion to help keep people on track.

Three more NHS patients are due to be treated in early February, with up to a dozen others also scheduled.

Professor Richard Welbourn, consultant bariatric surgeon at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are very pleased to be able to offer this new treatment, a first for the NHS, that offers clinically meaningful weight loss as part of a holistic programme involving dietary support and care.

“People with severe obesity are prone to diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, which can be reversed with weight loss.

“The Allurion balloon is a 15-minute outpatient procedure, and is swallowed, so there’s no need for an endoscopy, hospital bed, theatre time or anaesthetic, which is better for the NHS and a much-improved experience for our patients.

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“We expect that patients using the programme will lose 10-15% of their weight in four months, which improves quality of life and makes patients healthier.”

Dr Shantanu Gaur, founder and chief executive of Allurion, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with the NHS for the first time to deliver the Allurion programme.

“We are looking forward to expanding this partnership and benefiting many more NHS patients in the months and years to come.”