December 1, 2023

Yahoo Finance health care reporter Anjalee Khemlani discusses Noom’s venture into the weight-loss drug space as more pharmaceutical companies begin developing prescription treatments for obesity.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, Noom is just the latest company getting into the weight-loss drug business, announcing today that users will soon be able to get prescription obesity drugs through its new Noom Med offering.

Let’s bring in Yahoo Finance’s senior health care reporter Anjalee Khemlani who’s got the details. You know, Anjalee, we were talking about how this kind of feels like a pivot for Noom, which has always been about healthy body image, focused on exercise and food, now they’re getting into the medical side of things.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That’s right. And more heavily so with this offering. So they previously did have a relationship with Novo Nordisk back when Novo had their other GLP drug, Saxenda. And they had a partnership going with that. But this really falls into the category of what we’ve seen, which is a significant shift of companies like Noom. We also weight watchers joined as well as other telehealth platforms like Ro as well.

So we’re seeing the shift of companies that have previously touted or looked at other options like behavioral and lifestyle changes, dieting, you know, monitoring calorie intake and the like, and really pushing– as well as exercise, sorry. And then pushing now for including these GLP-1 drugs like Wegovy, Ozempic, and the like, as part of the process.

Now, it’s important to remember that Wegovy is the only one that is approved for weight loss in addition to Saxenda. They are also type 2 diabetes drugs. We know Lilly is going to be coming out with Mounjaro as well. And then we’ve got another one, Contrave, that’s another one that Noom is going to be able to offer.

So all of these are on the table as options for those patients and those members. It’s something that we’re seeing growing in popularity, of course, as more attention falls on this class of drugs.

SEANA SMITH: Now, when we talk about the growing popularity of this and the trends seeing, there is one potential challenge here. And that’s the fact that some of these employer-based health care plans don’t want to pay for these drugs. What’s behind that?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: So that’s actually been something that we’ve seen, including what Saxenda, like I mentioned before for Novo Nordisk. We’ve seen that when it comes to weight loss coverage. These insurers don’t want to in part because then it falls into the category of a lifestyle drug. And that’s something that they’ve generally pushed back against. Take, for example, Viagra is another option.

And that’s something also that’s another pill in another time and an example in which the pill was used for something else or initially, you know, came out for one indication and then started being used for another. So similarly, you know, these are type 2 diabetes drugs, now being used for weight loss.

And so that’s where the concern comes for these companies, for the insurance companies, for these employers because they’ve already started to see skyrocketing costs when it came to the use of these drugs before they started pulling back. So it’s something to keep an eye on for sure. Maybe there will be, you know, more efforts to put this in play. Maybe we will get coverage for it. But it’s definitely something that has a lot of lobbying going on right now.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, I can imagine. Anjalee Khemlani, as always, thanks so much for that.


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