Eli Lilly Launches Telehealth Platform to Sell Certain Drugs Directly to Consumers

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The LillyDirect platform will allow patients who are prescribed the popular weight loss drug Zepbound to obtain the drug via Lilly’s at-home prescription delivery service.

Image credit: piter2121 | stock.adobe.com

Image credit: piter2121 | stock.adobe.com

Eli Lilly has announced a new digital platform that will sell certain drugs directly to consumers with a prescription for conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and migraine. LillyDirect will facilitate access to medications by connecting patients with independent telehealth providers and other disease management resources, bypassing the need to obtain a prescription from a physician and then going to a pharmacy to fill it.1

"A complex US healthcare system adds to the burdens patients face when managing a chronic disease. With LillyDirect, our goal is to relieve some of those burdens by simplifying the patient experience to help improve outcomes," David A. Ricks, Lilly chair and CEO, said in a press release. "LillyDirect offers more choices in how and where people access healthcare, including a convenient home delivery option to fill Lilly medicines they have been prescribed."1

The new platform will allow patients who are prescribed the popular weight loss drug Zepbound to obtain the drug via Lilly’s at-home prescription delivery service. LillyDirect Pharmacy Solutions is powered by third party online pharmacy fulfillment services to provide patients with a simple option to obtain consistent access to prescribed medications with home delivery.

“By obtaining medicines directly from Lilly, patients can easily access Lilly's affordability solutions and savings card opportunities are automatically applied for patients who qualify,” the company said in a release. “Medicines fulfilled by pharmacy service providers through LillyDirect Pharmacy Solutions ship free of charge.”

Notably, Zepbound will not be available with a discount off its list price of more than $1,000 for one month’s supply. Because drugs such as Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro are often not covered by insurance,2 the price point will make access a significant challenge for many Americans, as patients must meet the criteria for a prescription to the weight loss drugs, which are intended for long-term use and not quick cosmetic weight loss.

This week, Eli Lilly warned against the use of its medicines for cosmetic weight loss. Citing the fact that neither Mounjaro or Zepbound are indicated for cosmetic purposes, the pharma company stressed that both are intended to treat serious diseases, with Mounjaro focusing on type 2 diabetes and Zepbound for obesity in specific BMI ranges of a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or greater or those who are overweight with a BMI ≥ 27 kg/m2 or greater. Additionally, caution is advised for patients with severe gastrointestinal conditions and the medications should only be prescribed by licensed healthcare professionals.3

“Patients should consult with their healthcare providers to determine whether Mounjaro or Zepbound is right for them,” the company stated in a press release. “Mounjaro and Zepbound have not been studied in patients with severe gastrointestinal disease, including severe gastroparesis, and are therefore not recommended in these patients.”

Eli Lilly also has expressed concerns about safety risks associated with compounded tirzepatide products from unauthorized sources. Legal action has been taken against entities producing or distributing such products, including medical spas, wellness centers, and importers.3

“Compounding pharmacies mix and combine ingredients to make customized medications based on a specific prescription (e.g., due to allergies to an ingredient),” the press release stated.3 “Products claiming to contain tirzepatide, Mounjaro, or Zepbound that are made and/or distributed by compounding pharmacies have not been reviewed by the FDA or global regulatory agencies for safety, quality, or efficacy; are not FDA-approved or approved by global regulatory agencies like Mounjaro and Zepbound; and may expose patients to potentially serious health risks.”

To obtain a prescription for weight loss, LillyDirect will connect patients with Form Health, a telehealth provider whose obesity physicians will meet with patients to evaluate whether they meet the criteria for a prescription.

"We know that people have come to depend on the efficiency and convenience of digital solutions to meet a variety of their everyday needs—healthcare being one of them," Frank Cunningham, group vice president, global value and access at Lilly, said in a press release.1 "We launched LillyDirect with the hope that it will offer patients an innovative end-to-end experience to manage their health and access their medicines, so they can get back to living their lives."

The company added that LillyDirect will continue to be updated and expanded, potentially offering new products, partners, and services, including programs to help maintain medication adherence.

References

1. Lilly Launches End-to-End Digital Healthcare Experience through LillyDirect. Eli Lilly and Company. News release. January 4, 2024. https://investor.lilly.com/news-releases/news-release-details/lilly-launches-end-end-digital-healthcare-experience-through

2. Lovelace Jr., B. Vespa, M. Herzberg, J. Eli Lilly launches website to help patients get weight loss drugs. NBC News. January 4, 2024. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/weight-loss-drug-online-website-eli-lilly-rcna131597

3. Open Letter Regarding the Use of Mounjaro® (tirzepatide) and Zepbound™ (tirzepatide). Lilly. January 4, 2024. Accessed January 4, 2024. https://investor.lilly.com/news-releases/news-release-details/open-letter-regarding-use-mounjaror-tirzepatide-and-zepboundtm

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