DTC

Expert calls Hims & Hers selling compound GLP-1s a ‘risky proposition’

The DTC brand says its “size and scale” will make the drug more affordable and accessible.
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· less than 3 min read

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The controversial weight-loss drugs known as GLP-1s are now available from Hims & Hers, and the direct-to-consumer wellness brand is touting the fact that its compound version is cheaper than name brands such as Ozempic and Wegovy and will help alleviate a nationwide shortage.

“We are leveraging our size and scale to secure access to one of the highest-quality supplies of compounded GLP-1s available today in order to be a part of easing the strain this shortage is placing on the millions of Americans who have obesity and are looking for help,” CEO Andrew Dudum wrote in a blog post.

But making compounded GLP-1s available to a larger customer base could come with some risks, according to Michael Grosberg, VP of product management at Model N, a software company that helps life sciences and high-tech companies manage their finances.

“Compounding is a risky proposition and doing so at this kind of industrial scale is a risky proposition,” he told Retail Brew.

  • The Food and Drug Administration defines drug compounding as the “process of combining, mixing, or altering ingredients to create a medication tailored to the needs of an individual patient,” and notes that “compounded drugs are not FDA-approved.”

Grosberg pointed to the fact that Australia’s health ministry this month banned the sale of copycat versions of Ozempic, citing safety concerns.

“While I understand that this action may concern some people, the risk of not acting is far greater,” Health Minister Mark Butler said in a statement to Bloomberg. “You only have to look to the recent reports of individuals impacted by large-scale compounding to realize the dangers posed.”

While Hims & Hers said its “size and scale” is behind the lower price, Grosberg said it likely has more to do with the fact that compound drugs are not FDA-approved.

“If you don’t have to go through that process, of course you can offer a lower price,” he said. He added that the other factor contributing to the lower price is that Hims & Hers is selling directly to consumers and bypassing insurance companies.

Hims & Hers did not respond to Retail Brew’s request for comment on the safety concerns around compound versions of the drug by the time of publication.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.