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The Secret Behind a Startup’s Almost-Free Weight-Loss Drugs? Coupons

A discount program was great for patients — until it ran out



Source: Getty Images

The weight-loss startup Calibrate Health Inc. attracted thousands of customers with an enticing pitch: It could get them low-cost access to obesity drugs like Wegovy, a breakthrough, $1,350-a-month medication that helps people lose 15% of their excess weight.

For some of those patients, that deal turned out to be temporary. Calibrate told people it would work with their health insurance providers to get drugs covered. But US insurance coverage for Wegovy is sparse, and about a fifth of the startup’s customers were instead enrolled in a generous coupon program from the drug’s maker, Novo Nordisk A/S, that ran out after six months.