WeightWatchers put on some pounds Tuesday, at least as far as its stock is concerned.
The company’s shares soared by nearly 80% after WeightWatchers said it’s buying a telehealth platform focusing on obesity.
That online service, called Sequence, connects patients with doctors who can prescribe prescription drugs such as Ozempic, which is intended to help people with Type 2 diabetes control their food intake.
These drugs are now being promoted by celebrities, influencers and others as a nifty shortcut to shedding pounds, which has led to shortages for people with diabetes.
“As science advances rapidly, we know there is a significant opportunity to improve outcomes for those using medications,” WeightWatchers CEO Sima Sistani said in a statement.
“It is our responsibility, as the trusted leader in weight management, to support those interested in exploring if medications are right for them,” she said.
Actually, doctors are the best resource for people interested in pharmaceutical approaches to weight loss.
In any case, this is a huge course correction for WeightWatchers, which traditionally has focused on providing diet systems and food products to guide customers to better figures.
Now the company is preparing to offer pills intended to accomplish the same goal, making diet systems all but obsolete.
Moreover, WeightWatchers by no means has a monopoly on these meds, making Tuesday’s market response highly questionable.
Sequence may be a handy portal for finding a weight-loss doctor willing to write prescriptions for meds meant for other purposes, but any doctor theoretically can do the same.
It remains to be seen, therefore, if WeightWatchers is now almost twice as valuable as it was Monday.
The fact that the company is spending more than $100 million to get into the prescription-drug business suggests that it has high hopes for success.
Many medical professionals and nutritionists will tell you that drugs will get you only so far, and the true ticket to weight loss is eating less and exercising more.
But Americans will do anything to avoid that. So weight-loss pills are the Next Big Thing.