Limited Prescriptions of Weight Loss Medications Despite Insurance, Study Shows

By iMedix
Updated 2024-03-29 22:44:14 | Published 2024-03-22 07:31:41
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An image that visually represents the struggle of accessing weight loss medications for insured individuals

A study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reveals that even among insured individuals, the prescription of effective weight loss drugs remains uncommon. The study, presented at an American Heart Association meeting but not yet peer-reviewed, highlights multiple hurdles in accessing these medications, including obtaining prescriptions, pharmacy availability, and affordability.

Despite recent advancements in powerful weight loss pharmacotherapies, particularly GLP-1 receptor agonists like Ozempic and Wegovy, their adoption is limited. The study, examining records from 18,000 patients with obesity and insurance coverage for these medications, found only 2.3% were actually prescribed a weight loss drug.

Dr. Chiadi Ndumele pointed out that insurance coverage is just one aspect, as copay costs and the complexity of prior authorization also deter prescriptions. He added that discomfort in discussing obesity and prevalent weight bias in clinical settings further hinder the conversation about weight loss drugs.

The research revealed racial and age disparities in prescriptions, with white adults, those in their 40s, and women more likely to receive these medications, despite higher rates of severe obesity and hypertension in Black adults.

Experts like Dr. Christopher Chapman from Rush University Medical Center and Dr. Sahar Takkouche from Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital emphasize that solving insurance issues alone won't address the broader challenges in prescribing weight loss drugs. They advocate for more training in obesity medicine for physicians to improve comfort and knowledge in discussing these treatments with patients.

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