New York CNN —
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.
WeightWatchers will be able to tap into the $106 million market for prescription drugs that treat obesity and other weight problems through the acquisition of Sequence. According to the CDC, 94% of Americans are overweight or obese.
WeightWatchers presented Monday about the Sequence purchase and stated that there is increasing scientific evidence that prescriptions for chronic weight management medication can be effective in treating obesity.
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 drugs, which are relatively new, stimulate insulin's release. This helps lower blood sugar. They slow down the digestion of food.
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.
There are many issues with the use of diabetes drugs to aid weight loss. These include high prices and shortages, which make it more difficult for those with diabetes to get the drugs.