They’ve swiftly caught the attention of subway goers: splashy ads plastered on train station walls and turnstiles across New York by telehealth companies promoting controversial weight loss medications like Wegovy by name.
Companies including Ro and Calibrate have capitalized on the new drugs by launching telehealth services dedicated to prescribing Wegovy and Ozempic, which patients inject themselves to treat obesity. Novo Nordisk’s drug Wegovy is FDA-approved for weight loss in adults, while the company’s drug Ozempic is approved to treat diabetes but is also prescribed off-label for weight loss. Ro, in particular, has advertised its weight loss program prominently, with posters that feature close-up pictures of an injection pen pressing the drug into a patient’s abdomen, with simple pitches like “Wegovy to lose weight.”
But outside experts say that the promotions risk exploiting a regulatory gray area of direct-to-consumer drug advertising, for which there are long-standing boundaries for drugmakers but less clarity for telehealth companies that have cropped up to prescribe their medicines.
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