Aetna weight-loss program to include Belviq, Qsymia

January 16, 2014

Aetna is launching a pilot program to test the benefits of FDA-approved, prescription weight-loss drugs combined with lifestyle support.

Aetna is launching a pilot program to test the benefits of FDA-approved, prescription weight-loss drugs combined with lifestyle support.

Lorcaserin (Belviq, Arena Pharmaceuticals and Eisai) and phentermine and topiramate extended-release (Qsymia, Vivus)  will be part of a pilot program to self-insured plan sponsors. Clinical trials indicated significant potential for body weight loss ranging between 5% to 15%. Blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar also decreased among participants.

The pilot includes outreach to high-risk members and doctors about covered weight-loss options. To support weight loss and positive lifestyle changes, members who qualify and begin treatment with Belviq or Qsymia receive free premium membership to the mobile app “Lose It!” by signing up through Aetna Navigator and CarePass consumer website.

Results are expected by the end of 2014. Plan sponsors have the option to cover these prescription weight-loss medications in Aetna’s health benefit plans.

“People need safe, effective weight-loss options that can help them be their healthiest,” said Ed Pezalla, MD, national medical director for pharmacy policy and strategy.

“Any weight-loss journey should start with and continue to incorporate a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Pezalla. “In addition to lifestyle changes, adding a pharmaceutical therapy may be right for some people. However, prescription weight-loss drugs should not be promoted in isolation. They should be used within a comprehensive program that includes wellness and screening programs, lifestyle coaching, and other support, such as the wellness apps available through CarePass.”

Adding a prescription weight-loss drug may help people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or greater with at least 1 other weight-related risk or medical condition or those with a BMI of 30 or greater.