WeightWatchers moves into obesity drug market with Sequence purchase
WeightWatchers announced plans to buy telehealth platform Weekend Health, also known as Sequence, in a move toward offering prescription weight loss drugs.
The company said the cash and equity transaction is valued at $132 million, but the effective net purchase price is $106 million. The deal is set to close in the second quarter this year.
Along with telehealth consultations, insurance coordination, and nutrition and fitness plans, Sequence offers glucagon-like peptide-1 medications, including semaglutide, which use the brand names Wegovy, Ozempic and Rybelsus. The company launched in 2021 and had about 24,000 members in February.
“WeightWatchers’ nutrition and behavior-change program can provide the support needed to help people build livable healthy habits for the long term and manage the dietary-induced side effects often felt while taking chronic weight management medications, such as glucagon-like peptide-1s (GLP-1s),” Dr. Gary Foster, chief scientific officer of WeightWatchers, said in a statement.
“As we build out our clinical weight management pathway, we will be learning and likely tailoring our nutrition program for this distinct member journey. We know weight management isn’t one-size-fits-all and clinical interventions are not medically or otherwise appropriate for everyone, which is why we remain committed to all pathways.”
THE LARGER TREND
Interest and demand for semaglutide has risen in the past several months, with many pharmacists reporting shortages of Ozempic and Wegovy.
Though Ozempic is only approved to treat diabetes, there are increasing reports of off-label use for losing weight. Wegovy was first approved as a weight loss drug in 2021. Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines on children and obesity, arguing for early intervention, which includes surgery and medication. Wegovy was recently approved for children ages 12 and older.
Though the drug is effective, it’s also expensive. It also needs to be taken continuously or the effects will wear off.
Another digital weight loss company, Noom, has also begun offering the weight loss drugs. According to reporting by Insider, it rolled out Noom Clinical to provide some users access to GLP-1 medications.
Direct-to-consumer virtual care company Ro and another online weight loss company, Calibrate, also offer semaglutides.
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