Telehealth’s Prescribing Without Oversight


Telehealth apps on a phone | Image by Tada Images

Health startup entities are being accused of offering weight loss medication with little oversight.

Companies such as Calibrate are marketing GLP-1 weight loss drugs in online advertisements.

GLP-1s are a class of type 2 diabetes drugs that help control blood sugar levels and assist with weight loss. These medications are sold under brand names such as Ozempic, Trulicity, and Rybelsus, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Other entities, such as Groupon and Vitastir, are making similar offers at significantly-discounted prices for medications such as semaglutide, another GLP-1.

Semaglutide, sold under the brand name Wegovy, has been approved and recommended for use in obese adolescents to stimulate weight loss, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

This injectable medication, which lessens the appetite, is just one of many new treatments — including weight-loss surgery — supported by medical authorities like the American Academy of Pediatrics in light of the ever-growing number of U.S. children and adolescents affected by obesity.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, childhood obesity has skyrocketed across the country, with Texas consistently ranking high on the list of states with the greatest proportion of obese youths.

Since the news broke about what many have called game-changing weight loss drugs, overweight and non-overweight people alike have been pushing to try them out. One consumer had said that she was “desperate” to try the medication and was driven by the fear of missing out, according to Futurism.

With this interest spreading among the general public, some are concerned that offering the medication with little oversight will lead to prescriptions for those who do not really need it.

For instance, telehealth companies have jumped on board, advertising these weight-loss drugs on social media sites like Instagram. As The Wall Street Journal reported, these advertisements sometimes target consumers broadly, beyond the significantly overweight patients the drugs are presumably meant for. They also allegedly neglect to inform consumers about the risks.

“Unfortunately, these are being inappropriately used as a vanity drug,” said Dr. Nisha Patel, an obesity-medicine physician in San Francisco, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Some people are using them just to drop 5 pounds. The get-skinny-quick messaging on social media, that’s not what they’re meant to be used for,” she continued.

However, there are also telehealth initiatives aiming to inform the public about what constitutes good nutrition and ways to access healthy food options. For example, Instacart — a grocery delivery and pick-up app — launched Instacart Health. The company described it as “a sweeping new initiative to deliver the ingredients for healthy living.”

Instacart’s founder, Apoorva Mehta, later raised $30 million for a medical consulting business focused on fighting obesity called Cloud Health Systems, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, one of the company’s first marketing ventures was for GLP-1 medication delivery through its service Sunrise.

Such practices have led members of Congress to call for more oversight of telehealth advertisements of prescription medications for weight loss drugs as well as others like Adderall, which is meant to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“As an anesthesiologist, I feel this is beyond concerning,” said U.S. House Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), according to The Wall Street Journal.

“I intend to continue working with the FDA and my physician colleagues in Congress to stop these bad actors, while expanding telehealth access where appropriate and helpful,” he continued.

Still, even as telehealth companies continue to facilitate access to the new weight loss, at least some people who are actually overweight are likely getting the help they need.

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23 days ago

Telehealth has a place in society. Its place can NOT be to administer vanity drugs in any way. Certainly someone with true obesity should be not only seeing a Doctor for a full exam, but should be required to seek nutritional and lifestyle change practitioners. This is not about drugs, this is about choices and habits. Very few people have conditions that genetically or otherwise result in obesity. Instead the eating habits and style are the largest cause.

Possibly it is time that all sugary cereals be required sold in the CANDY aisles of grocery and labelled as such. Partial grains should likewise come with label warning that they cause excessive carbohydrate intake with high glycemic index and taken regularly and without nutritional advice by a professional nutritionalist.

Take note that even chicken sold in stores has added salts and water to increase weight of product and shelf life. These are harmful long term as well.

23 days ago

“The last people I would trust with my health is Big Pharma and Big Government because neither one of those strike me as caring entities,”
stated Woody Harrelson

I agree with Woody.

“…So the movie goes like this: the biggest drug cartels in the world get together and buy up all the media and all the politicians and force all the people in the world to stay locked in their homes.
I threw the script away. I mean, who was going to believe that crazy idea? Being forced to do drugs? I do that voluntarily all day,”
joked Woody Harrelson.

Tidbit –
Woody’s estranged father Charles Harrelson once confessed to being involved with JFK’s assassination
In 1982 Charles Harrelson told Dallas TV station KDFW-TV,
“Do you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy, alone, without any aid from a rogue agency of the US government or at least a portion of that agency? I believe you are very naïve if you do.” 
[Archive footage of that interview is available. I’ve watched it.]
According to Jim Marrs‘ 1989 book Crossfire, Harrelson is believed to be the youngest and tallest of the “three tramps” by many conspiracy theorists.  Marrs stated that Harrelson was involved “with criminals connected to intelligence agencies and the military” and suggested that he was connected to Jack Ruby through Russell Douglas Matthews, a third party with links to organized crime who was known to both Harrelson and Ruby.  Lois Gibson, a well-known forensic artist, matched photographs of Harrelson to the photographs of the youngest-looking of the three “tramps”.

In the past, I and friends hosted an event(s) featuring Jim Marrs.
He was a great guy, very friendly.