April 14, 2017

Partnership with Virta Health offers new employee health benefit for type 2 diabetes treatment

Purdue announced today (April 14) a new partnership with Virta Health, a company founded by a world-class team of doctors and scientists, to offer its online type 2 diabetes clinic as a covered health benefit to its employees and their dependents. The partnership comes on the heels of a peer-reviewed study in which the Virta approach was successful in lowering A1c levels below the diabetic range in more than 50 percent of trial participants with type 2 diabetes.

As in many organizations affected by the challenges posed by type 2 diabetes, over 1,800 known Purdue employees and their family members live with the disease, leading to millions of dollars in medical costs. Since early 2016, a group of Purdue employees has been enrolled in the Virta Clinic in an effort to treat their type 2 diabetes, save money and live better lives.

"The success of Virta with our already-enrolled Purdue employees speaks volumes," said Candace Shaffer, interim associate director in benefits. "This program and what it offers to our employees living with type 2 diabetes supports our University-wide initiative to continue to improve employee wellness for years to come."

Moving forward, University leadership hopes to see continued and expanded success with the program.

"Virta enrolled patients from within the Purdue population in its clinical trial," said Denny Darrow, vice president for human resources at Purdue. "They did the work for us and kept our employees engaged, and the results have been incredibly promising. Based upon that early success, we are now making Virta available to all eligible people with type 2 diabetes in our employee and dependent populations."

Virta Health is a specialty medical clinic that works to remove or reduce the need for type 2 diabetes medications and lowers A1c levels to nondiabetic ranges safely and sustainably — without the risks, costs or side effects of medications or surgery — by offering a new approach to treating type 2 diabetes in an outpatient setting with on-demand, continuous care.

"Until Virta, physicians could focus only on type 2 diabetes management and the prevention of life-threatening complications, or recommend bariatric surgery," said Sami Inkinen, co-founder and CEO of Virta Health. "Virta draws on the latest medical and nutrition science and advances in technology to address the cause of type 2 diabetes, and deliver on-demand, personalized treatment and expert support on a near real-time basis."

Virta was founded by Inkinen, the co-founder of Trulia, Dr. Stephen Phinney, a physician and scientist with 40 years of expertise in nutritional biochemistry, and Dr. Jeff Volek, a dietitian and scientist who has spent 20 years studying the effects of nutrition and physical activity on health. Results from a clinical trial of the Virta program, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research, showed that over half of all participants lowered their blood glucose to a nondiabetic range without drugs or surgery within the first 70 days of the program.

"I have tried everything to get my sugar and weight under control, and nothing worked. I was concerned about losing time with my family due to this disease. I can confidently say that Virta has saved my life, and it has also helped my mother and brother," said Kim Canine, a housing business process analyst at Purdue. At the time of her enrollment in the Virta Clinic, she had lived with type 2 diabetes for two years, and was on diabetes and blood pressure medications. A year later, Canine is off all of her medications.

In all, 87 percent of Virta's clinical trial participants reduced or eliminated their insulin medications. Virta calculates that participants had an average total medication reduction of $4,000 per person per year, based on those starting with medications other than just metformin.

"We're excited to partner with forward-looking employers and organizations like Purdue University that want to arrest the rising cost of type 2 diabetes care and create a healthier and more productive workforce," said Mike Payne, head of commercial and policy at Virta Health. "For people with type 2 diabetes, achieving blood sugar value reductions to below the diabetic range, rather than simply managing their disease, leads to more energy and better health, and it saves them thousands of dollars in health care costs."

To learn more about Purdue's partnership with Virta Health, visit www.virtahealth.com/purdue.

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