Eli Lilly and Company announced the launch of a new telehealth service for American patients that includes home delivery of the latest weight loss drug, Zepbound.
In LillyDirect's digital pharmacy, patients will be able to order prescribed medications and get them delivered to their doorsteps free of charge.
The new platform also allows patients to connect with healthcare providers who will determine eligibility for a prescription via Form Health, an online medical weight loss clinic.
"We know that people have come to depend on the efficiency and convenience of digital solutions to meet a variety of their everyday needs — healthcare being one of them," said Frank Cunningham, group vice president of global value and access at Lilly, in a statement.
Lilly became the first pharmaceutical company to offer its weight loss drugs via telehealth, causing concerns about the possible conflict of interest due to its financial stake.
Better access to Zepbound
The news comes two months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Lilly's new drug Zepbound (tirzepatide) for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight with at least one weight-related condition.
In clinical trials, the highest dose of Zepbound led to up to a 22.5% reduction in body weight over the course of 72 weeks.
The drug belongs to a novel class of medications called GLP-1 agonists, type 2 diabetes and obesity drugs. Initially developed for diabetes, GLP-1 agonists like Ozempic are increasingly used off-label for weight loss, resulting in shortages in the U.S. and Europe.
As the demand for weight loss drugs only increases, Zepbound is no exception. U.S. prescriptions for the drug reached 22,335 in the week ending Dec. 22 after it became available on pharmacy shelves in early December, according to data from prescription tracker Iqvia.
GLP-1 agonists are highly effective, but their use may increase the risk of bowel obstruction, stomach paralysis, and inflammation of the pancreas, according to a recent study.
Moreover, the pounds shed using tirzepatide may quickly return, according to a recent study sponsored by Lilly. It found that the participants who discontinued the drug regained 14% of their weight within a year, and the improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors were reversed.
The list for Zepbound from Lilly is over $1,000, but the company says it may cost as little as $25 a month with commercial insurance.
- Eli Lilly and Company. Lilly Launches End-to-End Digital Healthcare Experience through LillyDirect™.