Tag: virta

What could we do if GLP-1 weight loss drugs were free? Would our obesity epidemic be solved for good?


Unless you have been living under a rock, you likely have heard the names Ozempic, Wegovy or Mounjaro. Or perhaps been humming the jingle. Rarely has a class of drugs (in this case, GLP-1s) achieved such widespread attention in popular culture and the media, which has people clamoring for them in every doctor’s office in the nation.

And for good reason. What we know is that the efficacy and safety profile of these medications is substantially better than any weight loss drug in the past, while our obesity epidemic has only ballooned. As organizations committed to sound science and holistic patient care, we are encouraged by the benefits of these new therapies for diabetes. The clinical evidence shows that GLP-1s are highly effective for controlling blood glucose levels among patients living with Type 2 diabetes and certain co-morbidities. GLP-1s may even improve heart health for high-risk patients.

To date, the biggest worry with these weight loss therapeutics has been the hefty price tag, ranging from $800 to $1700 per person, per month. Conservatively, these weekly injections could cost the nation more than $100 billion dollars annually. Already, state Medicaid budgets are sagging under the financial burden. In North Carolina, for example, officials dropped coverage of GLP-1s for obesity, noting that two drugs alone would cost about $1 billion over 6 years, and that’s with a nice discount.

As troubling as the cost is, what we don’t know is what should really worry us. Amidst the excitement over patients rapidly shedding up to 15% of their body mass, fundamental questions remain about who should be taking GLP-1s, at what dosages and what the long-term health and economic consequences will be for patients and society. Ultimately, the price paid to people’s long-term health may be more concerning than the price paid out-of-pocket.

With the recent release of the SELECT trial data highlighting limitations of existing published studies of GLP-1s, it is now even clearer that the public isn’t getting the full picture.

Continue reading…

Vida Health’s CEO on Scaling Up in the Highly Competitive Chronic Condition Virtual Care Space


Even before Covid19, virtual care for chronic conditions was a hot and competitive area, with the heat turned up by Livongo Health’s IPO last year and big funding rounds for companies like Omada Health, Virta Health, and One Drop. Another contender in the space, Vida Health, has been best known for taking a “platform” approach to chronic condition management before “platforming out” became the-move-to-make for scaling health tech companies. Their digital health biz actually started out with a “whole health approach” to helping patients manage all their conditions at once, integrating care for diabetes, hypertension, COPD, high cholesterol, mental health conditions, and more from the get-go. Contrast that to some of their biggest competitors, who have adapted to that approach by adding on treatments for co-morbidities as their core businesses evolved.

Is there a benefit to starting out with a holistic care model that those who build it along the way can’t capture? We caught up with Vida Health’s founder & CEO, Stephanie Tilenius, to find out what advantage starting out as a platform play has brought to her business, which just closed a $25M funding round in April and is now available to more than 1.5 million people through employers and health plans.

How will the company scale from here? How will they remain competitive in such a crowded space? Stephanie talks through some of Vida Health’s post-pandemic plans AND how lessons learned from her “previous life” as an exec in Big Tech during that industry’s growth era of the 2000s & 2010s has shaped her thinking about the uptake of technology in healthcare. Not only did Stephanie work at eBay, PayPal, and Google during the birth of the online payment era, BUT she also helped take an online pharmacy company (Planet Rx) public during the dotcom boom.

Continue reading…