Drugmaker Eli Lilly has taken steps to get obesity drugs into the hands of patients without having to see a doctor face-to-face.
The company launched LillyDirect about a month after it launched its obesity drug Zebound. The website allows people who are battling obesity to meet with telehealth providers to get a prescription that will be delivered directly to their homes, Reuters reported.
The service will be for patients who have diabetes and migraines, the company said.
The telehealth providers will be independent from Eli Lilly and will supplement the patient’s other doctors. It can also be an alternative to in-person visits. They won’t be forced to prescribe Zebound or the company’s other medications. Instead, they will be able to prescribe any FDA-approved weight loss drug.
Patients will have frequent check-ins with the health provider, NBC News reported.
Eli Lilly said that Zebound, and its other two diabetes drugs Mounjaro and Zepbound, should only be used for the treatments they were designed for, not for “cosmetic weight loss.”
The company isn’t the only one getting weight loss drugs directly to consumers using telehealth platforms. WeightWatchers and Ro are also getting the treatments directly to consumers, but Eli Lilly is the first drug maker cutting out the middle man, NBC News reported.
“We’re used to buying consumer goods directly from manufacturers all the time on online websites,” CEO David Ricks said. “It really hasn’t been an option that’s been provided before.”
Keep in mind, there will be no discounts for the medications which are typically not covered by insurance and come with a $1,000 price tag, according to NBC News.
Also, some are questioning Eli Lilly’s motive with a pharmaceutical company and telehealth provider working that close together.
“It feels like blurring the lines,” Dr. Shauna Levy told NBC News. Levy is an obesity medicine specialist and medical director of the Tulane Bariatric Center in New Orleans.
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