GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, which help produce insulin in users’ bodies and make them feel fuller for longer, are gaining national attention for treating obesity and diabetes. But they’re costly, difficult to access and not meant for everyone.
That’s why Founda weight care company that has historically catered to consumers, launched Found for Business last week for employers. The Austin-based company offers access to an evidence-based obesity care program, which provides prescriptions for 13 different medications (including GLP-1s) in 60 different combinations. It combines the medication with support from providers, coaching and an app that offers meal and activity tracking. The medications and behavior change recommendations are personalized to each user.
Having this kind of support from providers is vital when prescribing medication for obesity treatment, particularly GLP-1s, said Sarah Jones Simmer, CEO of Found.
“GLP-1s are a breakthrough medical advancement for the field of obesity treatment and can be incredibly efficacious for patients, with some losing 15% of their body weight or more,” Simmer said in an email. “However, they are not clinically appropriate for everyone and even when prescribed correctly, up to 40% of patients may not respond to these types of medications. This is why we have placed such critical importance on having clinicians trained in obesity medicine to work with members to find the best medication tailored to their biology.”
Found will be offering the program to employers on a per-member-per-month payment model.
The news comes at a time when about 70% of Americans are overweight or struggling with obesity. Obesity costs employers of 1,000 employees more than $3 million a year. The “cost burden for employers is only increasing” as more move to offer access to GLP-1s, and some clinicians engage in “irresponsible prescribing,” Simmer said.
Found aims to move the needle on these costs through its program, as well as expand access to obesity care treatment.
“In addition to providing direct care for employees, [Found for Business] helps employers lower healthcare costs on downstream expenses, like diabetes, heart disease and musculoskeletal conditions, by tackling obesity and its root causes,” Simmer said. “Importantly, Found for Business can also help employers manage the soaring costs of GLP-1s, given the root cause-based approach, which ensures clinical appropriateness as a part of the prescribing process, as well as step therapy and utilization management.”
Other companies that provide support for weight loss include Noom and WeightWatcherswhich mostly focus on lifestyle changes rather than medication treatment. WeightWatchers, however, recently acquired Sequence, a virtual care company that provides access to a dietitian, fitness coaching and prescription medications (including GLP-1s). While lifestyle changes are important when tackling obesity, sometimes medications are needed, Simmer said.
“For many people struggling with weight, things like diet and exercise will not be enough to drive sustainable, clinically significant results,” Simmer declared. “Members may need medication to help curb cravings, balance blood sugar, or improve satiety so that they can sustainably manage their weight.”