FDA Approved New Drug
Zepbound for Weight Loss

What Is Zepbound?

The number of weight loss drugs on the market has been expanding slowly, and now there’s another new drug approved by the FDA. It’s a weight loss drug made by Eli Lilly and has been shown to be extremely helpful in clinical trials at helping people lose large amounts of weight. In trials, it has been shown to result in a loss of as much as 52 pounds over the course of 16 months. Eli Lilly is also the maker of the powerful weight-loss drug Mounjaro.

The FDA approved Zepbound for overweight adults who have one or more health conditions related to their weight as well as those who have obesity. A one-month supply of this drug will cost about $1,060. It will be available to U.S. patients by the end of 2023. Many health insurance companies won’t cover weight-loss drugs, and the price can make it difficult for many people to get onto this medication. However, in the U.S., about 40% of adults are obese, and most people are overweight. About one billion people across the globe have obesity, and this includes 100 million in the U.S. Tirezepatide is currently under review as a weight loss drug in the U.K., China, and Europe.

Even with the high price of the drug, some are expecting it to become the most popular drug ever, selling more than any other drug. This medication will be a weekly injectable.

GLP-1 Agonists

The active ingredient in Zepbound is called tirzepatide. This is the same drug that’s found in Mounjaro, a diabetes medication. While many drugs are approved for diabetes treatment and used off-label for weight loss, Zepbound is specifically approved for weight loss. It belongs in a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, also called GLP-1 agonist drugs. This weight loss class encompasses many of the weight-loss drugs on the market and has a solid history of helping patients lose weight.

Zepbound mimics a specific hormone found in the body that can help people to have less appetite and to eat less. Zepbound is a little different, however, in that it also mimics another hormone, called GIP. This hormone can reduce the patient’s appetite as well as improving the way their body processes fat and sugar. Zepbound shouldn’t be taken along with any other GLP-1 drug.

Successful Weight Loss

This drug showed in clinical trials that it could lead to patients losing an average of 22.5% of their total body weight when they started the drug. This averaged about 52 pounds. This is a higher number than another other weight-loss drug that is currently on the market. All of the study’s participants were either obese or overweight with a health condition related to their weight. Patients lost so much weight that the results were almost those seen with patients who have had bariatric surgery.

This GLP-1 drug is approved for people who have a body mass index, or BMI, of 27 and have a weight-related condition as well as those who have a BMI of 30 and above. Other conditions that can be caused by being overweight include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obstructive sleep apnea. The rise of GLP-1 drugs for weight loss has brought new hope to those who have had trouble losing weight through diet and exercise alone. This medication is supposed to be used along with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

When the GLP-1 hormone naturally found in the body is mimicked with this drug, it has several effects on the body. It causes the food that’s in the stomach to stay there longer, emptying far more slowly. This creates a lasting feeling of fullness that keeps people from feeling hungry. It also slows the flow of sugar into the blood so that you don’t get blood sugar getting too high too quickly. Keeping your blood sugar steadier can also help to curb cravings.

Because Zepbound also mimics a second hormone, patients also get the benefit of that one. It also has a number of effects, including lowering the overall appetite of the patient. The weight loss from taking Zepbound comes from eating fewer calories because the patient feels full much of the time. With less appetite, they take in less food and fewer calories. The patient also benefits from eating the healthier diet that goes with taking this drug and the regular exercise they get as ordered by the prescribing doctor. The drug is meant for long-term weight loss and weight maintenance after the loss.

In trials, about one in every three patients who were taking the highest dose of this medication, 15mg, lost more than 58 pounds, which was about 25% of their starting body weight. With the placebo, patients lost about 1.5% of their starting body weight.
The study included 2,539 adults who were either obese or were overweight with a non-diabetes side effect of their weight. The average weight of those who started the trial was 231 pounds. Patients who took Zepbound and followed the requirement of a healthier diet and exercise were able to reduce the other conditions caused by being overweight. They were found to lower their cholesterol levels and blood pressure as well as to lower their waist size.

Possible Side Effects of Zepbound

Like other GLP-1 drugs, there are a range of gastrointestinal side effects that are possible when taking Zepbound. There is a small risk of having abdominal issues like stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. While this risk does exist, many people find that the side effects go away as they continue to use the drug. Most users of GLP-1s find that the benefits of taking the drug for weight loss outweigh the common side effects. However, there are more serious side effects that rarely occur in patients.

Though stomach paralysis isn’t mentioned on the label, some patients taking GLP-1 drugs (such as Ozempic or Rybelsus) have reported this as a result of their medication. This is a rare risk, however, and most patients tend to tolerate these drugs well. Sometimes, the dose of the drug has to be lowered in order to find the ideal dosing for someone who is experiencing side effects.

Patients may experience fatigue, a reaction at the injection site, gastroesophageal reflux, or hair loss. It can also cause thyroid tumors and gallbladder problems. It shouldn’t be taken by anyone who has had medullary thyroid carcinoma or a family history of it. It’s also not indicated for use in those who have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2.
To help prevent uncomfortable side effects, doctors generally start this medication at a small dose and then increase the dosage slowly over time. This allows the patient’s body to get used to the medication before the dosage is bumped up. This slow raising of the dosage can help keep people from experiencing side effects that may affect their quality of life. While some people taking GLP-1s may benefit from having their dosage raised every month, others need it done more slowly to keep side effects manageable.
The dosages include 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, and 15 mg. Because there are so many dosages, it can take many months to get up to the highest dose available, and the highest dose isn’t appropriate for everyone.

Lowering the Price of Zepbound

The list price for this medication is significantly lower than the price of the 2.4 mg semaglutide injection known as Wegovy. However, the price of Zepbound has made it out of reach for many people. To help with the cost, Eli Lilly has announced that it is creating a commercial savings card program that will lower the price for many patients. It will be made available soon after the drug is released on the market.
For those who have commercial insurance that covers the new drug, patients can pay as little as $25 for anywhere from a one to three-month prescription. For patients who have commercial insurance that doesn’t cover the drug, they could be eligible to pay about 50% off of the list price, paying $550 for one month of the drug.

Combating the Obesity Epidemic

Zepbound is the latest addition to the weight-loss drugs entering the market over the last few years. According to Eli Lilly, some people try 20 to 30 times to lose weight on their own without success. This drug can be a life-changing treatment for a condition that often finds little success without medication or surgery. For patients who are obese or overweight, having a new medication on the market gives them another option for weight loss.
Zepbound is going to be released before the end of the year. A GLP-1 medication, it mimics two hormones that help control appetite and cause patients to eat less. Clinical trials have been extremely successful in helping patients lose a significant amount of body weight. The new drug is anticipated to be a popular one that could become the country’s best-selling drug ever.
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