Cigna Group sees rising demand for new obesity and diabetes drugs known as GLP-1s that will boost earnings, according to a company executive.
"GLP-1 utilization does continue to build," Cigna Chief Financial Officer Brian Evanko said during a call with analysts on Thursday. For Cigna's Evernorth Health Services segment, which includes pharmacy benefits and specialty-pharmacy services, it's "a positive contributor to our earnings."
The sharp uptick in use of drugs like Novo Nordisk A/S's Ozempic and Wegovy, and Eli Lilly & Co.'s Mounjaro is raising alarms about costs to health insurers, employers and government programs that pay for them.
Evernorth Chief Executive Officer Eric Palmer said the company recently launched a new program to bring together management of diabetes, obesity and cardiac-health conditions.
For weight-loss in particular, the new class of drugs is facing some resistance from health-care purchasers. Most private and public insurers aren't yet convinced that weight-loss drugs are worth covering.
So far, just a quarter of private insurers cover the medications, and many of them restrict how long patients can take them or require proof that patients first tried other weight-loss methods. Medicare doesn't cover weight-loss drugs, though Congress is considering legislation to require the program to do so.