Weight loss influencers on platforms like TikTok are gaining popularity documenting their journeys using prescription weight loss drugs. However, there are financial incentives and payments underlying much of the weight loss content on social media. Many influencers have partnerships with telehealth companies that prescribe and ship medications to patients. These influencers receive payment for referring people to these companies, often through unique referral links.
While the influencers claim to have genuine intentions of helping others access life-changing weight loss drugs, medical experts advise caution. The relationship between internet influencers and telehealth companies promoting prescription drugs may lack disclosure, medical backgrounds, or connections to pharmaceutical companies.
Telehealth companies, like Ivim Health and Valhalla Vitality, are leading the influencer marketing for weight loss drugs. Ivim Health is a telehealth company that deals primarily with antidiabetic drugs, while Valhalla Vitality expanded into weight loss drugs after initially focusing on psychedelic treatments. These companies work with influencers to educate the public about weight loss drugs.
Valhalla Vitality CEO Philip D’Agostino stated that influencers have the freedom to speak honestly, but the company reviews their videos before they are posted. Payment for influencers can range from cash to discounts on medication.
The growing popularity of weight loss influencers and their partnerships with telehealth companies raises concerns about the lack of regulatory standards for these companies. As more people turn to social media for health advice, it becomes crucial to ensure that influencers are transparent about their relationships with pharmaceutical and telehealth companies.