Costco to sell Ozempic: 8 things for orthopedic surgeons to know


Just six months after entering the healthcare industry, big box retailer Costco has announced plans to launch a personalized weight loss program for its members, which includes the sale of GLP-1 weight loss drugs including Ozempic. 

Weight loss drugs, including Ozempic, are gaining attention across every physician specialty, including orthopedics, as physicians weigh the pros, cons and implications of these medications. Although Ozempic has not been approved by the FDA for weight loss, it has been prescribed off-label for that purpose.

"Initially, the effect of these drugs will have little impact on spine and orthopedics; however, in a few years' time, it will have a bearish effect as thinner people will have fewer spine and orthopedic problems. After a few more years business will pick up again since people will be living longer. I believe usage of this class of drugs will increase," John Prunskis, MD, CEO and medical director of the Illinois Pain & Spine Institute in Elgin, told Becker's.

Physicians are also looking into the drug's effect on spine volume, orthopedic volume, total hip replacement outcomes and anesthesia care

Here are eight things for surgeons to know about Costco's dive into the weight loss space: 

1. Costco entered the healthcare market in September, offering its members $29 virtual care primary visits through its partnership with Sesame. 

2. Now, Costco has launched a specialized weight loss program offering eligible members three months of clinical consultation, an initial video consultation and messaging options with their clinician and a nutritional guide and an individualized treatment program for $179.

3. The retailer will also offer its U.S. members access to prescriptions for GLP-1 weight loss drugs through Sesame, according to an April 2 report from CNN. 

4. Sesame is able to prescribe injectable semaglutides, including Ozempic and Wegovy, as well as oral weight loss medications to Costco members. 

5. Medication costs are not included in the $179 weight loss program plan and could cost patients an additional $950 to $1,600 per month. 

6. Costco has 130 million cardholders nationwide. 

7. During the last three months of 2022, U.S. healthcare providers wrote more than 9 million prescriptions for Wegovy and other injectable drugs used for weight loss. 

8. Researchers estimate that by 2030, 9% of the U.S. population could be taking GLP-1s.

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