Home Health Study Suggests Weight Loss Medications Are Infrequently Prescribed Among Insured Individuals

Study Suggests Weight Loss Medications Are Infrequently Prescribed Among Insured Individuals

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Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that many people who could benefit from weight loss medications aren’t able to get them. There are several obstacles, including difficulty getting prescriptions, finding pharmacies with the drugs, and affording the high costs.

Dr. Chiadi Ndumele, from Johns Hopkins Medicine, highlighted the importance of addressing obesity, a significant public health issue, at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago. Despite advancements in medications like Ozempic and Wegovy, access to these treatments remains limited.

High drug prices, averaging $1,000 a month, and challenges in getting prescriptions, even for those with insurance, are major hurdles. Only a small percentage of patients with obesity, about 2.3%, were prescribed weight loss medication, according to a study of 18,000 patients at a Johns Hopkins clinic.

Other barriers include copay costs and the complexities of getting prior authorization. Healthcare providers often avoid discussing obesity due to bias and stigma, leading to disparities in prescription rates. White adults are more likely to receive prescriptions than Asian or Black adults, despite higher obesity rates among the latter.

Women and adults in their 40s are more likely to get prescriptions, but there are still gaps in access. Dr. Christopher Chapman, a gastroenterologist, highlighted medication shortages and communication issues in healthcare.

Dr. Sahar Takkouche, an obesity medicine specialist, stressed the need for more physician training to improve discussions about weight loss medications. Misinformation and a lack of expertise among healthcare providers remain significant challenges.