Lilly launches online service for home delivery of weight loss drug

Lilly launches online service for home delivery of weight loss drug

  04 Jan 2024

Dive Brief:

  • Eli Lilly wants to make it easier for people to access its medicines for obesity, diabetes and migraine, announcing Thursday the launch of a website designed to support home delivery of drugs like its in-demand weight loss treatment Zepbound.
  • The company’s new service, dubbed LillyDirect, relies on online pharmacy providers like Eversana and Truepill to deliver prescribed Lilly medicines. A website provides access to telehealth services through which people can consult with an independent physician. If prescribed a Lilly medicine, LillyDirect is also meant to help patients more easily access the company’s savings cards.
  • LillyDirect currently supports 14 of the pharmaceutical company’s medicines, 12 of which are various formulations and types on insulin. Notably, the service also offers Zepbound, which the FDA approved for weight loss in November, and Lilly’s migraine medicine Emgality.

Dive Insight:

Lilly is testing out a new kind of drug delivery model with its program, aiming to help patients connect with physicians and then support them in obtaining any treatments that get prescribed. The program could also help patients access Lilly savings programs meant to defray out-of-pocket costs, such as what the company has rolled out for insulin.

Zepbound costs $1,059 per month at list price, but Lilly has said that people who are commercially insured but don’t have coverage for the drug could be eligible to pay as little as $550 per month.

LillyDirect debuts at a time when Zepbound and a rival therapy from Novo Nordisk, Wegovy, are in such high demand that both developers have had trouble making sufficient supplies. The companies are also trying to battle the availability of compounded versions of their products, something the Food and Drug Administration is paying attention to as well.

Alongside the announcement of its new program, Lilly also released an “open letter” saying that Zepbound, as well as another version of the drug approved for diabetes, should not be used for “cosmetic weight loss.”

“We are aware of certain practices relating to our tirzepatide medicines that we wish to address publicly to ensure that our medicines are prescribed and used safely,” Lilly wrote in its letter, using the name of the active drug ingredient used in both Zepbound and the diabetes formulation, called Mounjaro.

The company also warned of safety risks that could be present when using compounded versions of tirzepatide, some of which Lilly tested and found “high amounts of impurities.” In one case, Lilly said, a compounded version of its drug was actually just sugar alcohol.

Lilly said it is taking legal action against medical spas, wellness centers and compounding pharmacies that sell products purported to contain tirzepatide.

The new online program Lilly launched Thursday could also help the company have better oversight of the supply chain for products like Zepbound. Notably, Mounjaro is not listed as offered through LillyDirect.

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