Medifast's Weight Control Centers to debut in Kerr Drug

April 4, 2005

Obese and diabetic patients may benefit from participating in a medically supervised weight loss program that provides access to a weight loss counselor. With additional counseling from a pharmacist, patients may derive even greater health benefits.

Obese and diabetic patients may benefit from participating in a medically supervised weight loss program that provides access to a weight loss counselor. With additional counseling from a pharmacist, patients may derive even greater health benefits.

That's the logic behind a new licensing agreement between Medifast's Hi-Energy Weight Control division and Kerr Drug. The agreement will put Medifast's Hi-Energy Weight Control Centers in four Kerr Drug stores. The centers will be part of a "store within a store" program under Kerr Drug's clinical pharmacy program.

Three of the centers will be located in Raleigh, N.C., and the fourth will be in Greensboro. Three of the stores will open later this month. The fourth store will debut in July.

MacDonald went on to say that the Hi-Energy Weight Control Centers in Kerr Drug will range in size from 500 to 1,000 square feet, and the center will be located next to the pharmacies. Eighty SKUs of product will be available.

"We developed a line of products strictly for patients with Type 2 diabetes and also created products for joint and coronary health using the same 90- to 100-calorie solution. The products are intended not only for weight loss, they also help with the comorbidities of obesity," said MacDonald.

Medifast conducted three clinical studies through Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health over the past 10 years. In the most recent study, 50 patients on the Medifast Diet for Diabetics lost twice as much weight as 50 patients who followed nutrition recommendations from the American Diabetes Association, according to MacDonald.

Preliminary 34-week results from the study showed that patients taking the Medifast Diet for Diabetics lost an average of 16 pounds. The patients on the ADA diet group lost an average of eight pounds. Two-thirds of those on the Medifast program lost at least 5% of their weight. "Compliance data indicated that almost twice as many people on the Medifast program were able to complete the weight loss portion of the study. In the first 34 weeks, the Medifast group's insulin dropped by 19% and their glucose levels dropped by 10%," MacDonald noted.

MacDonald went on to say that since many patients using Medifast also use other pharmaceuticals for conditions related to obesity, clinical pharmacy plays a unique role, particularly for low-income patients who do not have health insurance.

Medifast is training the weight loss counselors who will be in Kerr Drug every day. Medifast will also provide Kerr's pharmacists with an overview of the program.

Patients will receive an EKG and a blood test and will be weighed before they begin the weight loss program. They will have to certify that they've seen their primary care physician.

If patients cannot afford to see a doctor, Medifast will provide them with a consultation with a physician.

Medifast and Kerr will launch a joint radio and newspaper advertising effort to promote the program. In addition, postcards will be mailed to prospective patients.

MacDonald said the average fee for the program, which includes menu planning, brochures, and counseling, is $6 to $8 a week. Initially, patients will be charged a weekly fee of only $3 as part of a promotion to attract customers. The cost of each meal ranges in price from $1.50 to $2. Foods include such items as soy-based chili, cappuccino, chocolate shakes, flavored iced teas, soups, and granola bars.

Commenting on the new agreement, MacDonald said, "Kerr Drug's clinical pharmacists will blend traditional drug therapy using nutritional intervention tools to support the drug therapy. This is a great opportunity for the physician, the weight loss counselor, and the pharmacist to improve the patient's health and not just treat the disease." When patients make a decision to lose weight, he noted, it's best to give them everything they need at the time they make their decision.