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Younger People Are Looking to GLP-1 Drugs for Weight Loss

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Article

A new survey finds that more people are using semaglutide and other GLP-1 therapies to lose less than 15 pounds.

More people are turning to GLP-1 medications for weight loss, finds a new survey of consumers by Numerator, a data and tech company. In fact, 43% of respondents said they are using these medications for weight loss, which is up from 10% of GLP-1 users in October 2022.

The Numerator analysis provides information based on a survey and purchase behavior of more than 100,000 panelists on their usage of GLP-1 medications for diabetes management and weight loss. Numerator has segmented results based on the respondents’ intent to lose more or less than 15 pounds.

U.S. prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5% during the period 1999 to 2000 to 41.9% during the 2017 to March 2020, according to the CDC. Obesity-related conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, are among the leading causes of preventable death. Drugs such as Wegovy (semaglutide), Saxenda (liraglutide) and the newest weight loss drug Zepbound (tirzepatide) activate receptors of hormones secreted from the intestine — glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) — to reduce appetite and food intake.

Novo Nordisk also sells semaglutide as Ozempic and the oral Rybelsus to treat patients with diabetes. Novo Nordisk also sells liraglutide in a higher dose as Victoza for diabetes. Lilly also sells tirzepatide as Mounjaro to treat people with diabetes.

Numerator has found that consumers using GLP-1 medications for weight loss skew younger and have a higher income. In the survey, 71% of respondents using the medication for weight loss are Gen X or Millennials. Younger people are five times more likely than older generations to report they are using GLP-1 medications for weight loss. Just 24% of the Baby Boomers survey used the GLP-1 for weight loss; 60% of the Baby Boomers take the GLP-1 medications for diabetes. Additionally, among respondents who are using GLP-1 therapies for weight loss, 42% want to lose less than 15 pounds

Eric Belcher

Eric Belcher

“People using the medication to manage chronic medical conditions like diabetes and obesity behave differently than those using the medication to lose smaller amounts of weight,” Eric Belcher, CEO of Numerator, said in a press release. “The depth of Numerator’s panel – the larger panel size, stricter qualification requirements, and higher trip coverage – allows us to segment results based on weight loss goals and leverage years of consumer profile collections to understand how consumers feel about and manage their health.”

Related: Semaglutide for Weight Loss: To Cover or Not Cover?

Demand for GLP-1 weight loss drugs is expected to increase, especially has they begin to show more health benefits beyond weight loss. But this comes at a time when health plans and employers are grappling with whether and how to cover the newer weight loss drugs. Of the plans that don’t cover the FDA approved weight loss drugs, 34% of respondents said they were too expensive and 19% had concerns that the medication did not lead to long-term weight loss, according to the newest Trends in Drug Benefit Design Report from Pharmaceutical Strategies Group (PSG).

These drugs have high costs. Zepbound, which was approved early in November has a list price of $1,059.87, which is about 20% lower than semaglutide, Lilly said in a press release. Lilly, however, is offering those with commercial insurance who do not have coverage for Zepbound may be eligible to pay as low as $550 for a one-month prescription of Zepbound, which is about 50% lower than the list price.

But as Kerri Tanner, Pharm.D., chief pharmacy officer at consultant PayerAlly, said during a panel discussion at the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute’s annual conference in September, formulary coverage at many insurers and PBMs is using body mass index as a criteria for coverage of GLP-1 products.

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