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Novo Nordisk teams with CVS Health on obesity support program ahead of Wegovy DTC launch

October 23, 2021
Life sciences

As Novo Nordisk gears up to disrupt the obesity market with its newly approved weight-loss drug Wegovy, it is teaming with retail pharmacy giant CVS Health on a new education and nutrition coaching program for people taking anti-obesity meds.

The program, offered both virtually and in person, builds on existing nutrition coaching services CVS already offers at some of its HealthHUB locations. It includes a personal nutrition assessment, body composition tests, coaching sessions with a dietician, healthy meal coupons and an app where patients can find resources like shopping lists and recipes.

The CVS pilot targets people who have already been prescribed an anti-obesity drug and directs them to resources that can help them better understand how to properly use their medication, the companies said.

Though the program is unbranded, it fits well with Novo’s strategies for rolling out Wegovy, which are “very much patient-directed,” commercial chief Camilla Sylvest said on an investor call just after the drug won approval.

For now, CVS and the Danish drugmaker are testing the personalized program at three locations in the Phoenix area, but they expect to expand to new markets soon if the pilot goes well, Novo Nordisk’s director of media relations, Michael Bachner, said in an email interview. He said the pharma-pharmacy partnership is a first for both companies.

Gary Loeber, CVS Health’s executive vice president for pharmaceutical contracting and purchasing, said in a news release that the retail health chain has been “evolving our legacy relationships with pharmaceutical manufacturers to more fully support patients” and that the Novo partnership “recognizes people who struggle with weight loss often face stigma and need personalized support.”

The pilot comes just months after the FDA greenlighted Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy (a higher dose of its diabetes drug Ozempic) as a treatment for obesity, which affects more than 40% of the U.S. population and often leads to other chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

The FDA based its approval, which came in June, on late-stage testing that found the drug helped patients achieve and sustain an average of 15% weight loss over 68 weeks. Novo also makes weight-loss drug Saxenda which, in contrast, has been shown to help patients lose 5% of their body weight, on average.

The company has been ramping up efforts ahead of its DTC launch to spread awareness of obesity as a chronic disease that can be treated with medication rather than just a lifestyle condition. It’s also rolled out a physician education site called Rethink Obesity to jump-start conversations about the disease.

“Although obesity is a serious chronic disease, it is often misunderstood, underdiagnosed, and undertreated,” Doug Langa, Novo’s executive vice president for North America, said in announcing the CVS partnership. “We have been working to change that because people who live with this disease need more care and support.”

While Novo is revealing few details about its timeline for introducing Wegovy to consumers via advertising, Langa told Fierce Pharma in a June interview that it has “big promotional plans” for the drug.

by Natalie Missakian


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