Are GLP-1 Apps the Breakthrough for Companion Solutions?

GLP-1 companion apps are a win-win for pharma, health plans, behavior change app publishers and patients. Major weight loss app publishers have added GLP-1 specific programs to their portfolios. National health systems and health plans started to make companion solutions mandatory. Other companion solution providers should monitor progress of these solutions closely and adopt.

GLP-1 (Glucagon-like peptide-1) apps are designed to support individuals who are prescribed GLP-1 receptor agonists, a class of medications commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes. These apps typically offer features that help users manage their diabetes, monitor their GLP-1 therapy, and make lifestyle choices that support overall health.

Recently GLP-1 drugs became the weight loss drug for people in mainly western countries to efficiently lose weight without too much hassle. Just a pill or an injection and then the kilos are melting away. Stock prices for supplying pharma companies including Novo Nordisk (Victoza) and Eli Lilly (Trulicity) surged consequently.

This all sounds too good to be true, but there is a downside. As soon as you stopped taking the medication, the pounds came back just as quickly as they were lost.

The effect works like a “V”. While taking the drug, the weight drops. After stopping, the weight returns.

This is where the new companion solutions from providers such as Noom, Omada or Oviva come into play. All leading providers of apps that help their users eat better and lose weight.

Within a short time, the providers developed special GLP-1 companion programs. These programs help users change their eating habits before taking and prescribing the GLP-1 preparation, during and afterward so that the weight loss is permanent.

The goal is to move from a “V” to an “L” development.

Health insurance companies and employers now require doctors to only prescribe GLP-1 drugs with an accompanying solution. In the UK, the NICE organization has defined and launched a tender to select the companion solution for NHS doctors. In the US, employer programs require employees to first complete a behavior change program before paying for the GLP-1 drug.

GLP-1 companion solutions seem to be an ideal fit. Apps have proven that they can make their users change their behavior and lose weight or change their eating habits. Apps can help people trying to lose weight achieve the “L” shape and lose weight permanently.

There are many app plus pill combinations or companion solutions available on the digital health market. Most of them concentrate on:

  • Education: Offer educational content about the medications, treatment options and related lifestyle choices.
  • Adherence: Reminders for drug intake. Customizable alarms to ensure timely doses.
  • Symptom and activity tracking: Active or passive tracking
  • Side effect monitoring: Help users monitor and report any side effects of the therapy.
  • Medication interaction checking: Information about drug compatibility and alerts.

Pharma companies have a long history of developing companion solutions to support their drug business. The business impact has been limited for most of those initiatives.

The new generation of GLP-1 companion offers provide direction for how app plus pill combinations can work. Behavior change and drug combinations seem to be a good starting point for further companion offers. Companion solutions that assist patients/users in transitioning from the “V” to the “L” pathway can create significant value for all stakeholders involved. It looks like a classical “Win/Win” model.

Other companion solution providers should monitor the adoption of GLP-1 companion solutions closely, learn and adopt their offerings.

Research2Guidance has been continuously monitoring the global digital health industry since 2010. The team provides support to established healthcare companies and startups with insights, strategic advice, and hands-on partnership building. We’re happy to talk and share our experience! For more information reach out to [email protected]