On November 8th, 2023, Eli Lilly and Company’s Zepbound (tirzepatide) received FDA approval as the first and only approved medication to activate two incretin hormone receptors to target an underlying cause of excess weight.
The new medication is meant for adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or higher, or people with a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or greater who have medical conditions such as hypertension, high blood lipids or type 2 diabetes (T2D).
Zepmound was approved based on results from phase three of the SURMOUNT-1 and SURMOUNT-2 trials. In SURMOUNT-1, participants lost an average of 48 lbs when taking the highest dose (15 mg), and an average of 34 lbs on the lowest dose of 5 mg.
Possible side effects of Zepbound included:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Vomiting and upset stomach
- Reactions at the injection site
In general, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea were caused by higher doses but typically decreased with time.
The connection between T2D and weight
Weight and T2D are related in several ways. Being overweight increases the risk of developing T2D, though it doesn’t directly cause it. T2D typically develops after years of insulin resistance, where your body doesn’t process insulin correctly.
Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors in the development of metabolic diseases—including T2D. As obesity makes your body less sensitive to insulin, it’s more difficult for your body to regulate your blood sugar levels (BGLs). Research shows that 80 to 90% of adults with T2D also have higher body weights or live with obesity.
The impact of Mounjaro
Last year Lilly released Mounjaro, which is an injectable medication that helps treat T2D.
Studies have also shown that Mounjaro helped bring BGLs into the target range and decreased the variability of BGL spikes. From the success of Mounjaro helping people with diabetes reach their goals, including weight loss, it gained interest by those who don’t have diabetes.
For many without diabetes, the wait for Zepbound has been in anticipation. This approval is a big step for helping those with higher weight reach their weight management goals after trying other medications or lifestyle changes with no success.
Both Mounjaro and Zepbound medication are meant to be used in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and physical activity.
How to access Mounjaro and Zepbound
A common barrier to any new medication access is cost. There is a savings program available for Mounjaro and Zepbound; however, it’s also important to talk to your doctor in order to get a prescription first.
Zepbound is expected to be available in the U.S. by the end of 2023 in six doses (2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, 15 mg), but is still under regulatory review for weight management in Europe, China, the United Kingdom and several additional markets.
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