Costco begins offering Ozempic prescriptions to some members - East Idaho News
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Costco begins offering Ozempic prescriptions to some members

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NEW YORK (CNN) — Some people go to Costco for its $1.50 hot dogs, others for its $179 Ozempic prescriptions.

The warehouse retailer is now offering its US members access to prescriptions for GLP-1 weight loss drugs through its low-cost health care partner Sesame.

Costco first partnered with Sesame, a direct-to-consumer health care marketplace that connects medical providers nationwide with consumers, last fall when it began offering its members online health checkups for as low as $29.

But about two months after that announcement, Costco and Sesame noticed that about one in five customer inquiries was about weight-loss help and began working on a new program to address that interest, Sesame co-founder and president Michael Botta told CNN.

“It wasn’t what we initially thought would make sense to offer for Costco members who were coming to Sesame,” he said. “But we realized pretty quickly, just by looking at what people were curious about, that there was a clear unmet need here,” he said.

The fruit of their labor, a renewable three-month program, officially launched on Tuesday and includes a video consultation with a weight loss doctor or specialist, a GLP-1 or weight loss prescription, if appropriate, and ongoing support through unlimited messaging and guidance with a health care provider.

Sesame says it has an available supply of injectable semaglutide, including Ozempic and Wegovy, as well as oral weight-loss medications. The company advertises that patients could lose 5% of their body weight in just three months, 10% in six months and 15% in a year.

The cost of medication is not included in the $179 three-month plan, and Sesame warned on its website that without insurance, GLP-1s can cost between $950 and $1,600 per month.

Ozempic, Wegovy and other GLP-1 prescription drugs have already swept through wealthier demographics of the country.

Botta hopes that offering this service to a portion Costco’s 130 million cardholders can help broaden its customer base.

“Increasingly, there is more interest among the mass affluent, among the middle class, among almost everybody,” he said. “Obesity is prevalent across every socioeconomic status in America. There are a lot of people who have this interest and who have this need and we saw that in the data.”

US health care providers wrote more than nine million prescriptions for Wegovy and other injectable drugs used for weight loss during the last three months of 2022 alone. JPMorgan researchers estimate that 30 million people may be taking GLP-1 drugs by 2030, or around 9% of the US population.

WeightWatchers launched a new membership plan that gives members access to doctors who can prescribe these medications. It also made a $100 million-plus deal to buy Sequence, a telehealth business that can offer virtual prescriptions, where appropriate, to patients for these weight loss drugs.

Luxury gyms such as Life Time are also acquiring weight loss clinics with doctors who can prescribe GLP-1s, while Equinox is designing exercise programs specifically for people taking the medications.

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