- Noom is capitalizing on the surging demand for new weight-loss medications.
- The weight-loss company launched a program that gives some users access to drugs known as GLP-1s.
- Noom joins digital-health startups facilitating prescriptions for the drugs, like Calibrate and Ro.
The popular weight-loss app Noom quietly launched a new program that offers some users access to prescription anti-obesity medications.
Called Noom Clinical, the program is meant to “build additional support” for app users, a company spokesperson said in a statement to Insider.
Users who meet certain medical-eligibility criteria are evaluated by a clinician and could be prescribed medicines that help with weight loss, including trendy GLP-1 agonists or other medicines. GLP-1s, such as Ozempic and Wegovy, are a class of drugs that have exploded in popularity in the past year for helping people lose weight.
“While medication is not appropriate for all Noom Clinical users, the program can offer a better chance at long-term weight loss success utilizing medication to optimize biology for those who qualify,” the spokesperson said.
Startups like Noom want to capitalize on a surge in demand for new weight-loss drugs
Noom’s foray into prescribing medication comes as demand for weight-loss drugs surges. The company joins a slew of venture-backed digital-health startups and other health companies seeking to capitalize on the rising interest. WeightWatchers on Monday announced plans to buy Sequence, a startup providing online prescriptions for GLP-1 drugs.
Direct-to-consumer companies such as Calibrate and Found built their businesses around facilitating prescriptions for weight-loss medications. Meanwhile, Ro, a startup best known for selling erectile dysfunction pills online, in January said it started offering GLP-1s.
There’s a huge market for the drugs, as more than 40% of American adults are considered obese, which is associated with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
And they work: Adults taking semaglutide, the drug sold under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy, can lose 15% of their weight on average. Other GLP-1s include liraglutide, sold as Saxenda; and tirzepatide, sold as Mounjaro.
Wegovy and Saxenda are FDA-approved for weight loss for people who are significantly overweight or obese, but doctors can prescribe the others for unapproved uses. Doctors began prescribing the diabetes drug Ozempic “off-label” for weight loss when Wegovy was in short supply last year. That contributed to shortages of Ozempic that affected people with diabetes.
Noom has faced criticism for its restrictive calorie goals
Noom, which introduced its weight loss app in 2017, is backed by venture firm Oak HC/FT and private-equity giant Silver Lake. It was valued in 2021 at $3.7 billion.
The app allows users to track their weight, meals, and physical activity. Coaches offer written encouragement to users and help answer their questions through the app’s messaging platform. The program costs $70 per month, although the price can vary based on length of subscription.
Noom has faced criticism for recommending low calorie goals, despite casting itself as “anti-diet,” Insider previously reported. Another Insider investigation published in December 2022 found that Noom attracted users that appeared to have depression, eating disorders, and other acute-mental health conditions that coaches weren’t equipped to handle.
In October 2021, Noom expanded its mental-health services with its Mood program, focused on stress and anxiety management. The program uses similar principles of psychology and habit-building as its weight-loss app.
According to the spokesperson, Noom began rolling out the new prescription-drug program to a small number of users in the fall. The spokesperson declined to disclose how many users are enrolled in the program, or how much it costs.
The clinicians who evaluate patients include doctors and nurse practitioners who go through Noom’s training program and are overseen by its medical director, a doctor board-certified in obesity and internal medicine, the spokesperson said.