As the prevalence of a new class of obesity medications increased, so did the number of online pharmacies designed to deliver them to patients. A new analysis of claims data from Trilliant Health suggests that by 2022, telehealth companies, in particular direct-to-consumer cash-pay options, could account for nearly half of the patients with insurance claims for GLP-1 prescriptions.
Direct-to-consumer telehealth companies have made it simpler for numerous patients to obtain prescriptions for a wide range of conditions. And since the first GLP-1s for obesity were approved, promising up to 15% weight loss, many of these companies have capitalized on the approvals and rising demand to launch new weight loss enterprises. Companies including Calibrate and Ro claim their weight loss medication programs have reached hundreds of thousands of patients.
Collectively, their influence could be even greater. The analysis conducted by Trilliant Health for STAT provides an early look at the foothold these companies have gained in GLP-1 prescribing.
Trilliant Health found approximately 3.6 million persons with prescription claims for a GLP-1 — semaglutide, tripeptide, or injectable liraglutide without insulin — in 2022 in a national claims database of more than 300 million patients with commercial and federal insurance.
To determine where each patient may have obtained these prescriptions, researchers searched for a medical visit claim within three days of a GLP-1 prescription claim — the visit where the script was likely written. Only 53% of patients had a corresponding visit, however.