WeightWatchers is getting into the booming prescription weight loss drug business.
The company, now known as WW International, will buy Sequence, a telehealth subscription service that connects patients with doctors who can prescribe weight-loss and diabetes drugs, including the hot new diabetes drug Ozempic.
WeightWatchers offers subscribers meal plans and other tools to lose weight. Oprah Winfrey has a partnership with and stake in the company.
The $106 million acquisition of Sequence will give WeightWatchers a foothold into the growing market for prescription drugs to tackle obesity and other weight conditions. Around 94% of US adults are classified as obese or overweight, according to the CDC.
“There is growing scientific evidence that, for some, prescription chronic weight management medications can address the biological components of obesity,” WeightWatchers said in a presentation about its Sequence purchase Monday.
Shares of WW International (WW)surged 20% during pre-market trading Tuesday on the news.
Although WeightWatchers didn’t specifically mention Ozempic or any other drug, the company noted that Sequence’s $99-a-month subscription plan helps connect customers to doctors who can prescribe drugs that mimic an appetite-regulating hormone called GLP-1.
The GLP-1 agonists Sequence helps prescribe include Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus.
These relatively new drugs work by stimulating the release of insulin, which helps lower blood sugar. They also slow the passage of food through the gut.
The FDA approved Ozempic for the management of diabetes in 2017 and Wegovy for weight loss in 2021.
Ozempic has gained popularity in part due to celebrities using it for weight loss.
But there are many concerns with using diabetes drugs for weight loss, including high costs and shortages that are making it harder for people with diabetes to obtain the drugs.