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Industry weighs potential impact of weight loss drugs

Industry weighs potential impact of weight loss drugs Poll respondents see drugs as everything from disruptor to driver of demand for HME

newspollYARMOUTH, Maine – Respondents to a recent HME Newspoll aren’t quite sure what to make of the weight loss drug craze and whether or not it will impact demand for certain HME. 

Nearly 40% of respondents say the drugs, which are known as GLP-1s and which include brand names like Ozempic and Wegovy, could reduce demand for CPAP devices, as obesity is among the most important risk factors for sleep apnea. 

“Over time, I think this will have a huge impact on PAP devices and, more importantly, supplies,” wrote on respondent. “These drugs are a huge disruptor for our industry.” 

Other respondents are more measured. 

“I think it will reduce demand for certain product categories like diabetes systems,” wrote Erin Dolan of Med-Essentials in Connecticut. “However, I feel that users of these weights loss drugs will lose weight and then forgo regular exercise, so there will still be plenty of health issues to drive DME consumption.” 

Thirty-three percent of respondents say the drugs will not have an impact on HME and 28% say the jury’s still out. 

“I feel like it may be too soon to tell,” wrote on respondent, “but I also think, like with many drugs, there are going to be issues when it comes to sustaining the results.”  

Twenty-three percent of respondents say it’s possible the drugs could actually increase demand for HME. 

“Like with the concerns we had about bariatric surgery some years ago, weight loss drugs will drive more patients to see a health care provider, resulting in more tests and diagnosed apnea patients,” wrote Sue Hoefs of Lake Area Free Clinic in Wisconsin. “And like with bariatric surgery, many of those patients will lose weight but still need CPAP, perhaps at a lower pressure. If they go off CPAP, as they age, they may end up back on CPAP.” 

Respondents also point out, there’s the question of how accessible the drugs will be for many patients. 

“The drugs are too costly and not generally covered for anything but diabetes, so I don’t think there will be a measurable impact on OSA and CPAP utilization,” wrote one respondent. “The sleep disorders market remains massive.”   

Whether, in the long term, the drugs have an impact on HME, the industry is used to adapting, respondents say. 

“Being a successful DME provider means being able to pivot quickly to reflect market changes,” wrote on respondent. “Anything that makes us healthier as a nation should never be looked at as potentially negative. A change, yes.”


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