Commercial Payers Wrestle With Managing Weight Loss Drug Coverage

With the launch of a new website, Eli Lilly and Co. recently became the first pharmaceutical company to offer weight loss medications though a telehealth provider. The platform — LillyDirect — comes less than two months after Lilly’s weight loss drug Zepbound (tirzepatide) gained FDA approval and joined fellow glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists from Novo Nordisk A/S, Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide), in the burgeoning obesity drug market.

The weight loss medication market is currently dominated by Wegovy, a once-weekly injectable drug. The FDA initially approved semaglutide for Type 2 diabetes under the brand name Ozempic, but the agency expanded the indications to include weight management three years ago. Pharmacy formularies that cover more than half of commercial-plan enrollees categorize Wegovy as “preferred” or “preferred with utilization management restrictions,” — such as prior authorization and/or step therapy — according to MMIT Analytics. (MMIT is the parent company of AIS Health.)

© 2024 MMIT
Jinghong Chen

Jinghong Chen Reporter

Jinghong has been producing infographics and data stories on employer-sponsored insurance, public health insurance programs and prescription drug coverage for AIS Health’s Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits since 2018. She also manages AIS Health’s annual executive compensation database for top insurers and Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliates. Before joining AIS Health, she interned at WBEZ, Al Jazeera English and The New York Times Chinese. She graduated from Missouri School of Journalism with a focus on data journalism and international reporting.

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