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  • Ferrin Williams, PharmD MBA

Hot Prescriber Trend: GLP-1 Utilizers in Obesity Treatment Shifting to Phentermine



Thanks to clinical trials that demonstrated a 12% weight-loss(1) and much buzzed about appetite-suppressing effects, the GLP-1 weight loss medications Wegovy and Zepbound, has been all over the news, and so has its high price tag. As a plan sponsor, you have likely had conversation with your benefits consultant on how to pay for these in-demand $900-$1,300 per member per month medications.


Scripta’s proprietary AI platform has revealed a trend emerging in the dynamic landscape of GLP-1 coverage strategies among GLP-1 utilizers. -- a shift away from Wegovy and towards phentermine.


Say what?! Providers are switching patients from the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) GLP-1 agonist to the inferior phentermine? Tell me more…


The unexpected shift towards phentermine, a lower-cost alternative at approximately $5 per month, emerges as a pragmatic response to the host of issues surrounding fulfillment of prescriptions for Wegovy including shortages, supply issues, the expiration of manufacturer coupons, and insurance coverage limitations which impact the accessibility of GLP-1 agonists. And with some patients experiencing side effects unbearable and even life-threatening while on Wegovy, phentermine is experiencing a surge.


When asking our founder, Dr. Bradley, about this prescribing trend in Scripta’s data, he was not at all surprised, sharing “I just switched two Wegovy patients to phentermine yesterday.” Dr. Bradley also shared that for the first time in his 35-year career as a physician, a pharmaceutical rep asked that he “not prescribe Wegovy for new patients” in order to save supply for those currently on therapy.


Dr. Bradley also added, “There is nothing new about phentermine which was first approved in 1959. What is new is the remarkable interest in weight loss medications as a class of drugs that began with the introduction of GLP-1 medications. When patients come into my office asking for help with their weight loss medication affordability, with a monthly price around $5, it’s not difficult to convince the patient to try phentermine to continue working toward their weight loss goal.”


The unique insight derived from Scripta's AI technology highlights the real-world transitions occurring among patients, revealing this Wegovy to phentermine switch, a top 20 book-of-business switch that is reshaping the narrative of obesity care.


Weight loss is a hot topic, and the reality for plan sponsors is the need for a comprehensive approach for members. Scripta is one piece of this approach that works well in tandem with other solutions, and puts consumerism in the hands of your members.


As demonstrated by the numerous doctors making the Wegovy to phentermine switch for their patients in 2023, Scripta is best-in-class at providing patients and their providers with all available weight loss drug options within their plan’s formulary and plan design.


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