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 produces infographics and data stories on health insurance and specialty pharmacy for AIS Health. She graduated from Missouri School of Journalism with a focus on data journalism and international reporting. Before joining AIS in 2018, she worked at WBEZ, Al Jazeera English and The New York Times Chinese.

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