At WeightWatchers we help you lose weight the old fashioned way, with Diabetes Drugs. Stock up 79%?
Updated: Mar 8
Update: After announcing their acquisition of a company helping users get access to Ozempic & other weight loss drugs, Weight Watchers stock has gone up 79% in two days. Bring joy to my heart.
Listen, Tubby; you want to be doing the horizontal bop in the bedroom or visiting the cardiac unit in the ER? When we're done with you, the opposite sex will be groveling at your doorstep.
Sure, we're going sell you a bunch of our expensive food and squeeze your huge ass into a Zumba class...but that's not going to strip off the weight.
Hitting the medicine cabinet is. So let's get off the couch and on the "juice".
WeightWatchers Moves Into the Ozempic Market With Telehealth Deal
Weight-management company is buying Sequence, which offers telehealth visits with doctors
WW, known for food-tracking and lifestyle changes, is moving to also offer customers a medical weight-loss approach.
By Andrea PetersenFollow
Updated March 6, 2023 5:35 pm ET
WW International Inc., known as WeightWatchers, is buying digital health company Sequence, marking the diet company’s move into the hot market for diabetes and obesity drugs including Ozempic and Wegovy.
Sequence is a subscription service that offers telehealth visits with doctors who can prescribe the drugs. WeightWatchers, which has long promised to help customers lose weight through food-tracking and lifestyle changes, is moving to also offer customers a medical weight-loss approach.
“This is the biggest innovation in our industry today,” said Sima Sistani, WW’s chief executive officer, of the new drugs. “There’s real excitement for the health outcomes of these medications.” Ms. Sistani, who has been CEO since 2022, noted that there are also concerns that people taking these drugs need support to make diet and exercise changes, too.
Sequence, whose corporate name is Weekend Health Inc., started in 2021 and has amassed about 24,000 members as of February. WW says it is paying a net purchase price of $106 million, and the deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2023.
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WW plans to promote Sequence’s telehealth services to WeightWatchers members. Gary Foster, WW’s chief scientific officer, says WeightWatchers plans to create programs geared to people who are using weight-loss drugs that would include an emphasis on strength training and consuming high-protein foods, since when people lose weight they often lose important muscle mass.
Sequence members pay $99 a month for services that include telehealth appointments with doctors, who can prescribe Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro and other weight-loss medications. Sequence’s program includes an app to track weight loss and meetings with dietitians and fitness coaches. Potential subscribers first take a quick quiz that asks for height, weight and about certain medical conditions.
Drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic work by acting like GLP-1, a naturally occurring hormone that stimulates insulin production and slows the emptying of the stomach, making users feel fuller longer. People with a body-mass index of 30 or higher who took semaglutide, the active ingredient in Wegovy and Ozempic, weekly dropped about 15% of their body weight, on average, after 17 months on the drug, according to a study published in 2021 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The drugs have recently been the subject of online testimonials from celebrities and have soared in popularity, leading to shortages of the medications.
Wegovy is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat obesity and Ozempic is approved for diabetes. The FDA approval for Wegovy indicates the drug is for people with a BMI of 30 or more, or a BMI of 27 or more plus at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or Type 2 diabetes.
Some digital health companies have come under fire for promoting the drugs as a quick weight-loss approach for people who aren’t obese and don’t have diabetes. The medications can cause side effects including nausea and vomiting.
WW says it sees the new obesity and diabetes medications as an adjunct to its existing offerings including its cornerstone eating plan, where users track what they eat and drink and aim to stay within a certain number of daily “points.”
“We have no interest in prescribing medications to those who are trying to lose 10 pounds for a reunion,” said Dr. Foster. He says WeightWatchers’ members lose an average of 5% to 6% of their body weight over six months.
WW said it would pay $106 million in a combination of cash and stock for the deal: $65 million in cash and $35 million in the form of newly issued shares of common stock of WW at the closing of the transaction, and $16 million in cash on the first anniversary and $16 million in cash on the second anniversary. WW will assume $26 million of Sequence’s cash.
The Sequence deal comes after several turbulent years at the company. In 2018, WeightWatchers shifted away from its tight focus on weight loss—changing its name to WW and largely ending its use of the word “diet”—in favor of a broader wellness approach. The company launched and later scaled back several initiatives including personalized diet plans that many members found confusing. Membership—and the company’s stock price—fell.
When Ms. Sistani, who came from the tech industry and was a founder of the social-networking app Houseparty, joined the company, she leaned into the company’s weight-loss mission.
“We started re-embracing WeightWatchers because I think it’s important to not shy away from the conversation around weight loss being important for health outcomes,” she said.
Also on Monday, WW reported that it swung to a net loss of $32.5 million or 46 cents a share in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2022, from net income of $29.9 million or 42 cents a share in the year ago quarter. Revenue declined 18.8% to $223.9 million from $275.8 million in the year ago quarter. The number of subscribers slid to 3.5 million from 4.2 million.
Write to Andrea Petersen at email@example.com