New Weight-Loss Drug Zepbound Approved by FDA, Promising Significant Results but Raising Concerns over Cost

Published on November 10, 2023, 12:46 am

New Weight-Loss Drug Zepbound Approved by FDA, Promising Significant Results but Raising Concerns over Cost

There is good news for individuals struggling with obesity and looking to lose weight with the help of medication. On November 8th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Eli Lilly’s weight-loss drug Zepbound, which has shown promising results in clinical trials. According to these trials, participants were able to lose up to 52 pounds in a span of 16 months.

Zepbound has been approved for use by individuals who are obese or overweight and have at least one health condition linked to their weight, such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol. This approval is especially significant considering that about 70% of American adults are estimated to be overweight or obese.

However, there is a catch – the cost of Zepbound. The drug will be priced at $1,060 per month, making it inaccessible for many individuals since Medicare and most insurance companies do not cover such medications. Dr. Nishant Shah, a preventative cardiologist at Duke University Medical Center, voiced concerns about the affordability of Zepbound for the general population.

Zepbound belongs to a class of drugs called GLP-1 agonists and shares similarities with well-known weight loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy. These drugs have gained popularity due to their ability to induce rapid weight loss. The main ingredient in Zepbound is tirzepatide, which is also found in Mounjaro – another drug manufactured by Eli Lilly that is FDA-approved for treating Type 2 diabetes. Both Zepbound and Mounjaro work by mimicking two different hormones that help reduce food cravings and aid in weight loss by breaking down sugar and fat.

Analysts predict that Zepbound will become one of the most sought-after medications ever sold once it becomes available later this year. For people considering taking this medication, what can they expect? To get an idea, TODAY spoke with a patient who took Mounjaro, the same drug as Zepbound, off-label for weight loss.

Alexis Mitchell, a 30-year-old woman from North Carolina, had been struggling with high blood pressure and its related health complications. Weighing in at 365 pounds, she also developed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance. Traditional methods like exercise and dietary changes failed to help her lose weight effectively. When her doctor suggested trying Mounjaro off-label as a potential solution, Mitchell decided to give it a go.

To her surprise, Mitchell noticed immediate results after starting the medication. She described it as a “game changer,” prompting her to make significant lifestyle changes. In just one month, she lost 15 pounds. While she did experience side effects such as nausea, migraines, body aches, stomach pain, and constipation – which persisted throughout her treatment – she found ways to manage them without them being too debilitating.

Mitchell has adjusted her behavior and learned how to avoid triggers for these side effects. For example, eating small meals frequently helps prevent queasiness and staying hydrated reduces the occurrence of headaches. Alongside taking Mounjaro, she remained committed to healthy eating habits and regular exercise. Although she sometimes wonders how much of her weight loss is solely due to the medication versus her efforts in diet and exercise alone, one thing is clear: the drug has made a significant impact on her overall health.

She proudly mentioned that she is now a picture of good health with no acid reflux or pre-diabetes. Additionally, Mitchell’s fatty liver disease and high blood pressure are no longer an issue for her. The transformative effects of this drug are evident in her journey towards better health.

Despite experiencing some side effects, Mitchell firmly believes that the positive outcomes outweigh any negatives: “The weight was just falling off… I’m down 123 pounds in a year.” Her inspiring story attests to the potential benefits of Zepbound and offers hope for individuals struggling with their weight.

While the cost of Zepbound remains a concern, it is crucial to recognize the possibilities it presents for those who have been unable to achieve significant weight loss through traditional methods alone. As more individuals gain access to this medication, it could revolutionize the way obesity is managed and help countless individuals on their weight loss journey.