Eli Lilly says obesity drugs not for ‘cosmetic’ use amid digital-sales push

Eli Lilly  (LLY) – Get Free Report unveiled plans to sell its new anti-obesity drugs directly to consumers as it looks to challenge both the early market dominance of European rival Novo Nordisk  (NVO) – Get Free Report and the growing risk of their use in cosmetic weight loss.

Lilly said it would launch a new digital health-care platform, LillyDirect, that will offer its obesity, migraine and diabetes treatments directly to consumers who have been prescribed the medication by a physician.

“A complex U.S. health-care system adds to the burdens patients face when managing a chronic disease,” Chief Executive David Ricks said in a statement. “With LillyDirect, our goal is to relieve some of those burdens by simplifying the patient experience to help improve outcomes.” 

“LillyDirect offers more choices in how and where people access health care, including a convenient home-delivery option to fill Lilly medicines they have been prescribed,” he added.

Eli Lilly shares were marked 1.2% higher in premarket trading following reports of the new direct-to-consumer strategy. The move indicates an opening bell price of $625.10 each.

Lilly Q3 earnings were better than expected

Lilly posted better-than-expected third-quarter earnings in November thanks to the ongoing surge in sales for Mounjaro, its anti-obesity drug targeted for type-2 diabetes sufferers. The jump offset a slump in revenue for its legacy diabetes treatment Trulicity.

Mounjaro and Zepbound, which Eli Lilly hopes can challenge the early market dominance of Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic, produced sales of $1.41 billion.

Eli Lilly also said it wanted to fight the use of its two main obesity treatments – Mounjaor and Zepbound – for what it called “cosmetic weight loss.” The company said it was taking legal action against spas and wellness centers that use products claiming to contain the active ingredient found in each branded treatment.

“Lilly is committed to meeting the needs of people affected by diabetes and obesity with treatment options that change the way health-care providers can treat these diseases and offer breakthroughs for patients,” the company said in an open letter published Thursday. 

“The development and approvals of Mounjaro and Zepbound demonstrate our continued commitment to this mission.”

“Mounjaro and Zepbound are indicated for the treatment of serious diseases; they are not approved for – and should not be used for – cosmetic weight loss,” the letter added.

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