The news: WeightWatchers is acquiring Sequence, a telehealth company that prescribes popular weight loss drugs, for $106 million.
More on Sequence: Sequence members pay $99/month for telehealth appointments, access to dietitians and fitness coaches, and an app to track weight loss progress.
Zooming out: Telehealth providers are emerging as vehicles to deliver GLP-1 drugs to patients by including prescriptions as part of an online obesity treatment program.
Key stat: Obesity drugs could expand from a $2.4 billion market segment to a $54 billion category by 2030, according to Morgan Stanley Research.
Yes, but: GLP-1 meds are quite expensive and often aren’t covered by insurance.
Plus, consumers need to vet companies offering weight loss prescriptions online.
Our take: Telehealth providers are moving into the weight loss drug market, which is not dissimilar to their entrance into the controlled substances market to treat mental health conditions.
Digital health players will need to avoid making the same clinical and ethical mistakes as virtual mental health startups like Cerebral—otherwise they’ll be viewed by consumers and regulators as dishonest drug pushers. WeightWatchers has the brand name recognition to succeed, whereas lesser-known startups could struggle, particularly if patients’ health plans don’t cover the pricey meds.
This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Digital Health Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the healthcare industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.
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