Hims 85% Wegovy and Ozempic discount is latest step on a journey to make medicine less ‘paternalistic,’ exec says

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Traditional medical practices are getting a lift from newcomers seeking to fill gaps in what health industry executives described Monday as a lagging health care system.

That includes Hims & Hers, a direct-to-consumer health company that on Monday announced it would release a compounded version of weight-loss drugs Wegovy and Ozempic that starts at $199 per month, 85% less than the name-brand versions produced by Novo Nordisk. The two are among a group of so-called GLP-1 drugs that have been approved to treat diabetes but have become tremendously popular for weight loss.

The move comes as the company focuses on personalization and customer choice in an effort to improve what was traditionally a “paternalistic” medical system, said Dr. Patrick Carroll, Hims & Hers chief medical officer, at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference.

In the past, doctors dictated many aspects of a person’s health, something that doesn’t fit well with the freedom of choice that patients expect from their healthcare today, Dr. Carroll said. 

“You’re not getting through this $4.5 trillion health care mess with traditional models of care,” he said.

Hims & Hers is adapting to the modern patient by publishing content on symptoms that educate people and help bring them into the company’s platform. In this way the company seeks to reach those who use Google or social media as a first resource for medical issues.

“It’s very different than it was even 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, but that is the model of the future,” Carroll said. “People are looking for answers online.”

Although Carroll allowed that the $199 price tag for the company’s new product is still steep for some customers, he emphasized that Hims & Hers new GLP-1 weight loss drug uses the same active ingredient as the name-brand medications thanks in part to its partnership with a generic manufacturing company that he did not name.

The Hims & Hers effort to bring a weight loss drug to market reflects the heightened demand for the name-brand versions that have Novo Nordisk and other producers like Eli Lilly scrambling to scale up manufacturing.

Although Wegovy and Ozempic are protected by patents, U.S. regulators allow pharmacies to make compounded versions of drugs that are in short supply, but the Food and Drug Administration does not test those made-on-site drug versions for safety. In a January statement, the agency warned against people using compounded forms of weight loss drugs when FDA-approved versions are available. 

Still, compounded versions of weight loss drugs have gained traction with consumers as supply of the name brand versions are limited.

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