(Reuters) – Eli Lilly & Co. launched a website on Thursday that allows people to order directly from the drug manufacturer, including its weight loss medication Zepbound, and connect people with obesity and other conditions to telehealth providers.
The service, named LillyDirect, is in response to the extraordinary demand seen last year for effective weight loss medications such as Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy.
The obesity medication market, expected to grow to about $100 billion by the end of the decade, has also piqued the interest of weight management providers WW International and Ro, who have introduced telehealth services for these medications.
WW International, formerly known as WeightWatchers, saw a more than 10% drop in its stock on Thursday following the launch of Lilly’s website.
Lilly stated that its direct-to-consumer service will also be available for patients with diabetes and migraines, with the pharmacy section of the website listing the migraine medication Emgality, insulin, and similar products for home delivery.
The website will connect patients with independent telemedicine providers who can complement their current medical team or provide an alternative to in-person care for certain conditions, the company said.
In addition, pharmacy services will be offered through third-party providers.
Evan Siegerman, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets, said Lilly’s move is „ahead of its time.“
„In our view, the DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) model is ideal for obesity medications, promoting acceptance and lowering barriers to adoption of new patients for Zepbound,“ he added.
Lilly’s shares rose up to 2.2% and reached a record high of $631.18 in early trading.
Optimism surrounding Lilly’s Zepbound, which was launched last month, led to a 59% increase in the company’s stock last year, making it the largest healthcare company by market capitalization.
Lilly also stated that it opposes the use of its obesity and diabetes medications Mounjaro and Zepbound for „cosmetic weight loss.“
(Reporting by Leroy Leo in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shinjini Ganguli)