Telehealth company Ro rolls out GLP-1 supply tracker amid ongoing drug shortage

Direct-to-consumer health and wellness company Ro launched an online GLP-1 supply tracker as an interactive tool to give patients real-time insights on GLP-1 drug shortages.

The tool also provides automated, localized supply alerts, according to the company.

Patients can use the tracker to stay up-to-date on GLP-1 availability by drug, dose and location, share their own experience with a shortage or finding supply in their area, and submit shortage reports to the Food and Drug Administration, according to Ro.

The GLP-1 shortage challenges are exacerbated by a lack of accurate, up-to-date, and accessible GLP-1 supply information, Ro co-founder and CEO Zachariah Reitano said in a press release.

"We originally began building this tracker for Ro patients but knew that our scaled supply data and tech expertise positioned us to help all patients (whether Ro patient or not) navigate the shortage and have a greater chance of finding the GLP-1 medications they need," Reitano said.

Ro launched a weight loss program that provides access to GLP-1 medications back in January 2023. Members of the Ro Body program also get access to a personalized provider care plan, diagnostic testing with at-home sample collection and 1:1 coaching from nurses.

The GLP-1 supply tracker leverages Ro’s proprietary, nationwide supply data as well as user-generated reports along with the latest information from the FDA’s Drug Shortage List.

The tracker is free and open access for any patient or provider, the company said.

Anyone can enter the drug, dose and pharmacy where they found stock of a GLP-1 drug or enter the same information about a pharmacy’s shortage. When a user contributes shortage information to the GLP-1 supply tracker, Ro allows them to automatically report that information to the FDA, with no additional steps required.

Patients can sign-up to receive automated email alerts, delivered when a GLP-1 drug is reported in supply in their area or when the status of a GLP-1 drug changes on the FDA’s Drug Shortage List, according to the company. When supply is found, the company will automatically email patients nearby with the pharmacy, address, and phone number so they can call and ask the pharmacy to transfer their Rx from their current pharmacy. 

In a blog post, Reitano said the company became increasingly aware of patients' challenges with getting access to these new obesity treatments.

"Patients finally have an obesity treatment available to them that actually works -- but because of ongoing challenges with supply -- they have to literally hunt down their medication, sometimes calling every pharmacy in their city just to come up empty," he wrote. "In radical transparency, we have beat our head against the wall at Ro over the last 12 months to try and find ways to call pharmacies for patients to find supply. Last July/August, we made over 50,000 calls to pharmacies. We built internal tools that would build lists of pharmacies to call based on patients’ Zip Codes."

He noted that how patients were forming communities online to try to help other patients find medication. "But it’s stuck in comments in forums or on social media. So, we built a tool that allows patients to crowdsource and aggregate their efforts, in a structured and fully automated way, and pay it forward," Reitano said.

“Drug shortages threaten treatment adherence and continuity of care – not to mention create undue stress for patients. Providers can use the GLP-1 Supply Tracker to stay informed about supply so that they can best counsel their patients on the most clinically appropriate and reliably available GLP-1 treatment,” said Dr. Melynda Barnes, Ro's chief medical officer.