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Pharma in the supplement aisle: Q&A with The Vitamin Shoppe CEO Lee Wright

The Vitamin Shoppe will soon sell GLP-1 drugs through its telehealth business. Find out what that means for the company and the supplement industry.

4 Min Read
Whole Health Rx by The Vitamin Shoppe
Whole Health Rx by The Vitamin Shoppe

At a Glance

  • Capitalizing on the GLP-1 craze, The Vitamin Shoppe starting a telehealth business, Whole Health Rx.
  • Founded to focus on weight management, Whole Health Rx will expand to support other conditions such as allergies.
  • In a survey, 40% of respondents said they are very likely to use a telehealth service from The Vitamin Shoppe.

This article originally appeared in Nutrition Business Journal's Condition Specific Issue.

When The New Yorker declared the dawn of “The Ozempic Age,” immediate thinking was that the new GLP-1 drugs would decimate the weight loss supplements market. Looking back a year later, it appears that, if anything, the opposite is true, with companies vying to either mimic the drugs’ effects or provide nutritional support to people already taking the drugs. That’s before what supplements can do to help them cope with side effects.

In short, the Ozempic opportunity has proven enormous. Now a major supplement retailer has dived into the maze of blurred lines to supply the drugs themselves. The Vitamin Shoppe announced early this month that it was going into the telehealth business with Whole Health Rx in order to sell GLP-1 drugs. We talked to CEO Lee Wright about what that means for his company and for the broader supplement industry.

Lee Wright, CEO of The Vitamin Shoppe

Many people in the supplement industry are opposed to pharma. What would you say to critics who’d say The Vitamin Shoppe has crossed a line?

Lee Wright: The Vitamin Shoppe has always been focused on helping people accomplish their health and wellness goals, however they define it. An increasing number of people are looking at their health and wellness journeys holistically and not drawing rigid lines between supplements and pharma options. We want to empower our customers to have a great choice of products and services that meet their individual needs—including how, when and where they want them. Our research shows that our customers are interested in a telehealth option, so they can make the right choices for their individual wellness goals. We completed market research in advance of the Whole Health Rx launch, and 40% of respondents said they are very likely to use a telehealth service from The Vitamin Shoppe. That number was even higher among current customers of The Vitamin Shoppe, at over 80%. We believe this shows that our customers want this potential option and trust The Vitamin Shoppe with their health and wellness choices.

Related:Secret Shopper: Why should I look for branded ingredients in supplements?

Is The Vitamin Shoppe considering offering additional telehealth services, and would they include pharmaceutical prescriptions?

LW: We launched Whole Health Rx with a sole focus on weight management and GLP-1 access, due to current customer demand. We are actively working on the ability to provide additional pharma solutions, such as for testosterone support, dermatology and allergies. Our goal is to become a full-service, holistic health solution provider for our customers, building on The Vitamin Shoppe’s established expertise on a range of health need states.

Related:New condition-specific supplements address shifting consumer needs

What will set The Vitamin Shoppe apart from other telehealth services offering the GLP-1 drugs?

LW: The Vitamin Shoppe has been a trusted resource for health and wellness solutions since 1977. Whole Health Rx provides a holistic approach to weight loss and weight control, with an integrated offering of pharma options in tandem with nutritional supplements to fill key nutrient gaps, plus educational resources for healthier weight loss outcomes. We also have 700 stores nationwide, where customers can talk to knowledgeable Health Enthusiast store associates about supplement options to support their individual wellness goals.

What kinds of products does The Vitamin Shoppe plan to sell in tandem with the drugs?

LW: GLP-1 medications can significantly reduce your appetite and nutrient intake, which can lead to some nutrient deficiencies. There are also common gastrointestinal side effects, which makes optimizing your gut health even more important. Nutritionist-recommended supplements for GLP-1 users include multivitamins to fill important nutritional gaps; protein to help preserve muscle mass and avoid unhealthy muscle loss; probiotics to support the gut microbiome and healthy digestion; and fiber for overall gut health.

Will the program include offering products and nutrition counseling for customers who do not meet the requirements for the drugs?

LW: All customers of The Vitamin Shoppe and Super Supplements are encouraged to join our industry-leading Healthy Awards loyalty program, which offers free, virtual, one-on-one wellness coaching from certified nutritionists. In addition, all our GLP-1 educational materials and guidance are available on our Whole Health Rx portal, as well as on our popular What’s Good by V blog.

What opportunities do you think GLP-1 drugs pre­sent to the supplement industry overall?

LW: Millions of Americans are looking for innovative ways to manage their weight and improve their overall health, whether that’s new pharma options, existing supplement solutions or a combination of both. The supplement industry has the opportunity to be there with the best products and services to support each individual’s unique wellness journey. By supporting consumers who are using GLP-1 drugs, the supplement industry can continue to show its efficacy and usefulness to consumers, even if they are choosing a pharma option for weight loss.

Lee Wright is scheduled to speak at Newtopia Now, New Hope Network's new trade show, set for Aug. 25-28 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado. For more information and to register, visit

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