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Lilly goes DTC with US website, home delivery option for weight-loss drug

Eli Lilly and Co on Thursday launched a website to enable people to directly order from the drugmaker including its weight-loss medicine Zepbound as well as connect people with obesity and other conditions with telehealth companies.

The service, called LillyDirect, comes on the back on extraordinary demand seen over the last year for powerful weight-loss drugs such as Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy.

The obesity drug market, forecast to grow to about $100 billion by the end of the decade, has also attracted interest from weight management service providers WW International and Ro that have also launched telehealth services for the drugs.

Shares of WW International, earlier known as WeightWatchers, slumped over 10 per cent on Thursday after Lilly’s website launch.

Lilly said its direct-to-consumer service will also be available for patients with diabetes and migraine, with the website’s pharmacy page listing migraine drug Emgality, insulin and similar products for home delivery.

The website will connect patients to independent telehealth providers who can complement their current team of doctors or be an alternative to in-person care for certain conditions, the company said.

It will also provide pharmacy services through third-party providers.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Evan Siegerman said Lilly’s move was “ahead of the curve”.

“In our view, the DTC (direct-to-consumer) model is ideal for obesity medications and drives uptake and lowers barriers to new patient starts for Zepbound,” he added.

Lilly’s shares rose as much as 2.2 per cent to hit a record high of $631.18 in early trading.

Optimism over Lilly’s Zepbound, launched last month, drove a 59 per cent surge in the company’s shares last year, making it the largest healthcare firm by market capitalization.

Lilly also said it stands against use of its obesity and diabetes drugs Mounjaro and Zepbound for “cosmetic weight loss”.

  • Reporting by Leroy Leo in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shinjini Ganguli, of Reuters.
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