Video Blog

Rising Rx Spend in Obesity Treatment: Unveiling Opportunities for Strategic Intervention

Explore the evolving landscape of obesity treatment costs and trends, from medical interventions to pharmaceuticals. Dive into the data to uncover the surge in drug spending for obesity, driven largely by medications like Wegovy and off-label use of Ozempic.

Unveiling the Shift: Exploring the Rising Role of Pharmaceuticals in Obesity Treatment Costs

"Until recently, most of the cost of treatment for obesity has been on the medical side through services aimed at diet and behavioral modification, as well as bariatric surgery for a few members. In the bars in the chart on the left, we see medical spend for obesity treatment in blue and the drug spend in yellow.

We see that only about 15% of spend for obesity treatment was drug related in year one of our study. But since year one of our study period, the average member who is obese has seen an increase in drug spend for obesity go up from $56 to over $300. And this drug spend more than doubled in the last year alone. When we look at what's driving the drug spend, shown in the chart on the right, we find that most of the spending has been for Wegovy, which is approved for obesity treatment, but also for Ozempic, even though obesity is an off label use for that drug.

But despite the large increase, only about 6% of members with obesity are being treated with a GLP 1 agonist, so we can see that there's potential for a lot more Rx spend in the future." - Janet Young, M.D., Clinical Advisor

Want to know how obese members vary by demographic andwhat you should consider for that? Get the full report.

"As we think about the roadmap items and understanding and setting a baseline here, we also look at obesity as a whole – but how do you approach that? It's typically, as you mentioned, Janet, thought about and addressed initially with nutrition and physical activity types of programs. And oftentimes, it's very common to cover bariatric surgery, but I think it's really time to take stock and understand what you have in place, how that has worked for you in treating obesity, and evaluate your strategy.

Holistically, consider all treatments for obesity, knowing that they can be very individualized. And, think about what support is in place to ensure the success of the various treatments and modalities, everything from lifestyle changes to medication, to surgery as well. And ultimately how will that all affect comorbidities too.  

Our next piece to our roadmap is treatments through GLP 1s and thinking about the future cost savings that could be associated with that. From there, our next step from an analysis standpoint is to understand the impact of potential cost savings of members that are on GLP 1s and thinking about what their cost was prior to the GLP 1, current, and then again from a future standpoint, do we see where there's some cost savings there." - Jennifer Jones, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships & Population Health Practice Leader

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