Hims Plans Weight Loss Prescriptions


The obesity drug arms race is ramping up.

What’s new: Digital health and wellness company hims & hers announced plans to launch a weight management platform with personalized medical prescriptions, alongside diet and behavior change plans, by year’s end.

Made to scale. In May, CEO Andrew Dudum said the company would wait for questions around insurance coverage, supply chains, and long-term usage to settle before stepping into the prescription weight loss ring.

But, converging pressures of consumer demand, industry competition, and a global obesity therapeutics market forecasted at $77B by 2030 lured it from the sidelines.

The announcement comes on the heels of a Q2 earnings report that revealed an 83% increase in YoY revenue and a 74% jump in subscribers, making the telehealth company one of few to successfully evade the broader healthtech slump.

Why it matters: Despite still nascent science, the traditional diet and weight loss industry is being upended by GLP-1s.

  • August 2021: Found and Calibrate raised funds to scale dual behavioral and prescription-based approaches to weight loss.
  • January 2023: Ro debuted GLP-1 treatments via its Body Program.
  • March 2023: WeightWatchers entered the prescription weight loss market through acquisition of subscription telehealth service Sequence.
  • May 2023: Noom added pharmaceutical interventions to its app platform with a new telemedicine arm, Noom Med.

Of note, GLP-1s sunk Jenny Craig’s in-person weight coaching business that focused on nutrition, but it’s being revived out of bankruptcy for ecommerce — and its new chief is “watching the role pharmaceuticals are playing in the industry.”

Fix-all. New data from a five-year Novo Nordisk trial shows the FDA-approved weight-loss shot Wegovy also reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. The revelation puts added pressure on private insurers to foot the bill for obesity patients, which drugmakers hope will open the door to eventual Medicare coverage.

Meanwhile, a less-intrusive pill form of Ozempic is making its way to market, meaning demand for the drugs is only going up from here.

But… miracle drugs don’t come without downfalls. Patients are suing over side effects, the UK is investigating reports of suicidal ideations after use, and the need for lifelong injections is a problem, no matter who pays.

Punchline: Even if weight loss drugs are 100% safe, addressing the obesity epidemic isn’t as simple as prescribing a pill. Pharmaceuticals hold promise as part of a solution, but freely dispensing drugs (with or without a prescription) risks replacing the role of proper nutrition and adequate exercise.

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