As demand for weight loss drugs goes hyperbolic, WeightWatchers is picking up the prescription pad.
What’s happening: WW, formerly known as WeightWatchers, acquired Sequence, a subscription telehealth platform using GLP-1 drugs (namely Ozempic) in chronic weight management, for a net purchase price of $106M.
What it means: WW isn’t throwing in the towel with its nutrition and behavioral change coaching. Instead, the company will bolster drug-based clinical interventions with its robust education, access, care management, and lifestyle programming flywheel.
In doing so, WW chief scientific officer Dr. Gary Foster believes it can continue its existing business while making appropriate designations for who is eligible for the drug.
“As we build out our clinical weight management pathway, we will be learning and likely tailoring our nutrition program for this distinct member journey. We know weight management isn’t one-size-fits-all and clinical interventions are not medically or otherwise appropriate for everyone, which is why we remain committed to all pathways.”
Quick fix. As we pointed out in Issue No. 218, the rise of prescription weight loss drugs fails to address the root causes of obesity.
A red flag, given the choice between mentally/physically rigorous lifestyle change and a so-called “miracle drug,” America’s startling rates of inactivity and unhealthy food consumption make the latter an attractive choice.
Meanwhile, with the obesity drug market set to reach $50B by 2030, easy access to prescriptions via telehealth platforms like Calibrate, Found, and Ro could make a lifetime of injections or pills the default intervention.
Looking ahead: Over 42% of Americans are obese, with some studies suggesting overweight and obesity are responsible for 1.3K US deaths per day. With numbers trending in the wrong direction, adopting a clinical telehealth business makes sense for WW — but controlling weight and inspiring long-term health should never be confused.