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Managing new drug options for obesity

Striking a balance between access and cost


From the Editors


Since the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease in 2013, the way we treat the condition has changed. No longer regarded as a lifestyle choice, obesity now represents an opportunity for treatment with drug therapy. Although new drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic have had positive results for those seeking to lose weight, some nagging questions remain.

The best outcomes for patients combine the use of these drugs as part of a comprehensive nutrition management program. Hear from Dr. Sree Chaguturu, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health, as he explains the promise of these drugs, and how payors can strike the balance between access and cost.


Dr. Sree Chaguturu presents on the main stage at Client Forum.



SREE CHAGUTURU: So let's dive into obesity. So here's a wall of statistics, right? Obesity is growing. It's expensive. It has a lot of comorbidities.

But I wanted to put this slide into perspective. In 1984, there was two conditions that the CDC had identified as threats to the public health of America. The first one was HIV. And then the second was obesity.

Americans are now exercising more than ever before. So the CDC also does another study looking at how much time do people exercise. And on this chart, you can see that 50% of people are hitting the CDC's recommended leisure exercise. So we're seeing more obesity despite exercising more than ever before. And this is why the medical community has really shifted his thinking from obesity is a disease of choice or of lifestyle to one that really has a pathophysiologic underpinning.

We know that obesity treatment, like all other treatments, will see variable uptake by population, which will then lead to inequities in how we're treating obesity in the country. And in these trials, these drugs were coupled with lifestyle support. And that's really important. This isn't just about taking the drugs. It's about having a comprehensive nutrition and lifestyle management in addition to taking these drugs.

So we need to make sure that we don't consider these drugs in isolation and that it's part of a broader package of services. And that's how it was done in the trials. And that's how we think about it as well.

So hopefully now you understand that obesity is more than a choice, it is a biologic process, and that it is a disease. And as CVS Caremark, we believe that our clinical framework will help us to continue to stay current with innovations, we'll continue to remain rooted in medical evidence, and always be focused on providing the best access to high-quality, safe, appropriate treatments.



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