More American Homes are about to Receive New Weight Loss Medications that are Popular with Millionaires and Celebrities

More American Homes are about to Receive New Weight Loss Medications that are Popular with Millionaires and Celebrities

One of the newest methods being used by several well-known brands on the market to reduce extra pounds is the use of GLP-1 medication injections. Elon Musk recently tweeted about using Wegovy, a weight-loss product from Novo Nordisk.

Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin recently told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that using a different version of Novo Nordisk’s same drug, Ozempic, which is most commonly associated with diabetes care, made him much less hungry.

“The weekly shot is amazing. … I started this about a year ago, it’s been life changing for me,” Rubin said.

Social media influencer Remi Bader said she was prescribed Ozempic after experiencing issues with insulin and weight gain.

GLP-1s, or glucagon-like peptide-1, are receptor agonists that mimic the actions of the GLP-1 hormone by activating GLP-1 receptors in the pancreas and increasing the body’s production of insulin. When managing Type 2 diabetes, the insulin can assist lower blood sugar levels. GLP-1s have also been reported to aid in weight loss since they cause those who use them to feel fuller for longer.

It’s not only the GLP-1 drugs that are helping celebrities and the wealthy, but also their ability to receive high quality clinical and obesity care that helps them lose the weight, according to Zachariah Reitano, the co-founder and CEO of telehealth company Ro. His company has therefore started a program to provide GLP-1 medications and associated medical attention to people who are having problems with obesity or weight loss.

“I think what we’re able to do now is leverage all of the technology that we have to give everyone access to something that only a few people have access to now,” Reitano said in a recent interview with CNBC.

Ro’s Body Program offers personalized treatment for GLP-1s and weight management. The year-long program uses a combination of GLP-1s and personal coaching. Participants in clinical studies who took these medications lost an average of 15% of their body weight over the course of a year.

Reitano claimed that the secret to an efficient weight loss regimen and assisting patients in maximizing their outcomes is pairing individualized coaching with GLP-1s.

“I think what’s really important is, yes, it’s access to the medication … but once they have the medication, we want to hold their hand throughout the entire process, and we have built the technology to be able to do that at scale,” Reitano said.

Participants in the Ro Body Program receive a diagnosis after providing details about their health history, challenges with weight loss and obesity, lifestyle, and diet. They are then sent an at-home lab test to obtain data on various health metrics, including the A1C blood sugar test, cholesterol levels, and kidney function.

A doctor may advise patients to begin with a modest dosage of GLP-1s that is gradually ramped up over time to meet the appropriate dosage amount based on their test findings and initial consultation.

Diabetes, obesity and a nationwide drug controversy

Semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist sold under the brand name Ozempic, has lately made news for a widespread shortage as its use as a weight-loss medication has grown in popularity. When Wegovy, the brand semaglutide marketed for weight management, began experiencing shortages, some using the medicine were prescribed off-brand Ozempic, makin the drug much harder to find.

Many with Type 2 diabetes that relied on Ozempic to treat it have been left scrambling to find the medication. There have also been reports of persons seeking assistance with weight loss turning to numerous alternative medicinal treatments due to a lack of availability of GLP-1 drugs.

Both obesity and Type 2 diabetes affect a large number of Americans. According to the CDC, the adult obesity rate in the United States was 41.9% in 2017, and about one in 10 people in the United States have Type 2 diabetes. Reitano said it is important to recognize both obesity and diabetes as diseases that deserve proper treatment.

“I think what we’re actually going to see over the next 5 to 10 years is a weight-centric approach to metabolic health,” Reitano said, who noted in a subsequent interview with CNBC’s “Mad Money” on Thursday night that his father’s personal experience with GLP-1 drugs was a motivating factor for his business decision. “I’ve seen GLPs have a tremendous impact on my dad,” he said.

He told CNBC’s Jim Cramer that the once a week injections do three “very, very important things” when comes to obesity. They help regulate sugar levels; they help regulate appetite; and they slow the passage of food from the stomach to the small intestine. This combination of controls has helped patients in clinical studies lose on average 15% of body weight over a year.

Novo Nordisk, Ozempic and Wegovy’s manufacturer, told NBC News last week the company is still experiencing supply chain issues that will last through the month, though access to some dosages of Ozempic for patients with Type 2 diabetes has improved.

The GLP-1 drug Wegovy for weight issues or obesity is approved for individuals with a BMI of 26-plus and co-morbidities, or those with a BMI of 30-plus.

A new real-time approach to weight management

Reitano said it should not be an either/or scenario involving diabetes management of weight loss and that will change over the next decade.

“If we saw obesity as a disease, and we’re both focused on preventing it but once it happens treating it and treating it as a disease, I think we’re going to see an entirely different approach,” he said.

Reitano said the weight loss and obesity management program fits within his company’s broader goal of changing the way patients receive medical care and reach health goals, from doctor visits to pharmacy and ongoing health issue management.

“High-quality obesity care is an important part of it,” he told Cramer. “Patients can’t just receive these medications and be left to their own devices.”

In addition to shipping the GLP-1 drug to a patient’s home, the Ro Body program tracks patients in real-time with remote monitoring. This is made possible by a cellular-connected smart scale that was also given to the patient. It tracks weight and transmits information to an app, allowing medical experts to adjust medicine dosages and ensure that the patient is getting the proper amount to get the desired weight reduction outcomes. Patients also receive one-to-one coaching with nurses over the year-long period and up to 24 telehealth visits with a doctor.

“The speed with which we can communicate with patients, update their plans and really be there for them and guide them through this experience, and have that serve as a really strong compliment to their overall primary care, is one of the things I think we’re really excited about,” Reitano said in a recent phone interview with CNBC.

Price of these drugs, though, is an issue, with Wegovy costing as much as $1,700 a month without insurance. Reitano said Ro helps guide individuals through the insurance process and to get these drugs at the lowest price, but he conceded in his “Mad Money” interview that pricing in this pharmaceutical niche “can be challenging for patients.”

The Ro Body Program is the latest addition to Ro’s health care offerings. The company, which ranked No. 38 on the 2022 CNBC Disruptor 50 list, started off selling men’s health care products, helping to treat issues such as erectile dysfunction and hair loss, and has since expanded to provide multiple at-home services including pharmaceutical and fertility treatments.