Plenity, Powered by Ro

Written by Zachariah Reitano 

Written by Zachariah Reitano 

last updated: Dec 17, 2019

4 min read

Eight weeks ago, my dad almost died, again. He had chest pain and was having his third heart attack in 25 years. Fortunately, my mom was able to get him to the hospital in time.

Three hours and two stents later, he was put on a strict diet and a new innovative treatment for his heart.

He has been sticking to his diet but it’s hard. It’s obviously worth it. After all, Papa Reitano just became Grandpa Reitano.

But it’s not easy. My dad has struggled with his weight for as long as I can remember. It’s not because of a lack of effort — I see him plan every meal, measure every portion, and count every calorie. I love him for it.

He’s not alone. According to the CDC, over 70% of the U.S. population is overweight or obese and it can take a heavy toll on those affected. Among many consequences, it can lead to heart failure, stroke, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, depression, pain, and even some cancers.

For too long, obesity was seen as a problem of willpower. Obesity is incredibly complex. It’s multifactorial and the result of both environmental and genetic factors. As a result, there are significant challenges both social and therapeutic that prevent people from achieving a healthier weight.

But my dad is lucky. Before he retired for health reasons, he was a leading expert in sexually transmitted diseases and, as a result, he has access to the best doctors in the world. Currently, he is being treated by one of the world’s leading experts for weight management.

In fact, soon, he’ll be one of the few people in the U.S. on a treatment called Plenity for weight management.

Plenity is the only prescription weight management product to be cleared for use by overweight adults with a BMI as low as 25 kg/m2, including those with hypertension or type 2 diabetes. It is made from naturally derived building blocks — cellulose and citric acid — and uses new and exclusive hydrogel technology to create a non-stimulant, non-addictive weight management aid to help you lose weight and keep it off.

In the clinical trials for Plenity, nearly 6 out of 10 people lost at least 5% of their body weight when Plenity was taken in conjunction with diet and exercise — and the average weight loss was 10%…about 22 pounds! The most common side effects were fullness, bloating, flatulence and/or abdominal pain. More on Plenity, including important safety information is available here.

But what about everyone else? What about the people who might not have access to the same level of medical care in their local community?

There is currently 1 obesity specialist for every 40,000 people in need. This is a chilling ratio and it’s why I could not be more proud of Ro today.

Today, we’re announcing a partnership with Gelesis, the makers of Plenity. Through the Gelesis-Ro partnership, Plenity will be the first FDA-cleared weight management aid and first primary care product to launch with both traditional healthcare providers and telehealth services. In doing so, Plenity will be available to patients across the country on day one.

This is Ro’s first weight management offering on the platform as we continue to leverage our “full stack” infrastructure to seamlessly integrate new medications into our national pharmacy network and national physician network.

When I first met David Pass and the team at Gelesis, I was blown away by the power and simplicity of their mission. They had one idea that stood above all others: empower patients with more choice and more access.

This is one of my favorite things about technology: it has the power to turn the luxury of concierge care into care anyone can access. Soon, it won’t just be people like my dad who have access to the newest treatments — it will be anyone with internet access.

Ro is live in all 50 states plus D.C. We’ve treated patients in 96% of primary care deserts across the U.S. and we’ve treated patients in close to 90% of all rural counties. Think about that for a moment. In two years, Ro has helped a patient in almost every single county with fewer than 2,500 people (this includes our friends in Alaska and Hawaii).

96% we treat patients in 1645 out of 1722 Primary Care Deserts

For all the people who do not have the time or resources to receive treatment in person or for those who feel more comfortable seeking treatment online, Ro will provide access to physicians experienced in weight management support who help determine if Plenity is appropriate for their patients. Patients will have access both to unlimited follow-up communications with their physician at no additional cost and educational resources and behavioral recommendations (e.g., diet, exercise, lifestyle habits). Patients will also have the opportunity to keep their in-person providers updated on their Plenity treatment.

For patients receiving treatment in person, Ro can be a complement. We are making all treatment plans and educational materials publicly accessible. After all, the average doctor’s appointment in the U.S. is approximately 12 minutes, which might not be sufficient to answer all of a patient’s questions.

Ro’s mission is to become a patient’s first call. While there is still an endless amount to do, providing patients with nationwide access to an innovative treatment like Plenity brings us one step closer.


To read more about Plenity and how it works, check out our FAQ here.

To sign up to learn when Plenity launches publicly next year, check out Roman and Rory.