Published on November 9, 2023, 12:38 am
Move over Ozempic, because there’s a new drug in town. Eli Lilly’s Zepbound, with the active ingredient tirzepatide, has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use by obese or overweight adults who have at least one weight-related health complication such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
Tirzepatide, also known as Mounjaro, was already approved for treating Type 2 diabetes since May 2022. However, now patients can be prescribed the drug for chronic weight management as well. The FDA states that approximately 70% of Americans are overweight or obese and predicts that more than half of the world’s population could be overweight or obese by 2035.
The FDA reports that even dropping just 5% to 10% of overall body weight can significantly lower the risk of developing heart disease. This is where weight management drugs come into play when diet and exercise alone fail to produce results. Zepbound aims to help people shed stubborn pounds by activating receptors for two hormones—glucagon-like peptide-1 and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide—to suppress appetite and curb food intake.
Zepbound has been shown to be effective in combination with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. However, it does come with some potential side effects including nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort or pain, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, burping, hair loss, acid reflux, allergic reactions, and even thyroid C-cell tumors observed in rodent trials. Whether these tumors can occur in humans is still unknown.
Eli Lilly estimates that Zepbound will be available to Americans by the end of the year at a list price of around $1,059—a 20% reduction compared to rival semaglutide (Ozempic or Wegovy), which costs $1,300.
While there is a demand for a weight loss cure-all, it has also led to the emergence of dangerous counterfeit drugs that have caused harm to users. Additionally, despite the push for more medication access, insurance coverage remains limited for obesity treatment. Obesity should be considered a chronic condition and provided coverage accordingly.
Overall, the approval of Zepbound offers hope for those struggling with obesity and its associated health complications. With continued advocacy, advancements in science, and data, improved access to life-changing medications like Zepbound may become more widely available in the future.