A new study suggests that the drug tirzepatide may be helpful for people with diabetes who want to lose weight and manage their blood sugar levels. The drug’s manufacturer, Eli Lilly, and Company, reports that in the study, over 900 adults who had obesity and diabetes used the drug for a period of one year and five months.
The results showed that those on the highest dose lost an average of 34 pounds, which is about 16% of their starting weight. Additionally, the drug helped to reduce blood sugar levels in participants. However, the data has not yet been reviewed by peers or published in any journal.
“We have not hit 15% in any other phase three trial for weight management in this type two diabetes population,” Dr. Nadia Ahmad, associate vice president at Eli Lilly and medical director of obesity clinical development said.
According to Ahmad, the company is happy with the positive outcomes, as weight loss is challenging for individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Tirzepatide Off Label Use
Currently, tirzepatide is sold under the name Mounjaro and has been approved to help people with diabetes type 2 regulate their blood sugar levels.
Lilly plans to leverage the results of this recent study, as well as those from a previous study involving weight loss in non-diabetic individuals, to request fast-track approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for tirzepatide for the sole purpose of weight loss.
If approved, this would make tirzepatide a direct competitor to the popular obesity drug Wegovy. However, many individuals are not waiting for the FDA’s approval and are already seeking out tirzepatide for weight loss.
Dr. Kimberly Gudzune, who happens to be the medical director of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, “I am aware of and I’ve heard, you know, it being sort of used off label for weight loss and individuals who do not have diabetes.”
Gudzune has noted that once a drug is given approval by the FDA, it can be prescribed by doctors for any medical reason they deem necessary.
High Demands For Anti-Diabetic Drugs
Tirzepatide, along with other similar drugs used for diabetes treatment, faced shortages last year. This was due to the high demand for the drugs following numerous success stories posted on social media regarding their weight loss benefits. The shortages made it challenging for patients with diabetes to access the medications they needed.
Tirzepatide functions by mimicking the effects of two gut hormones. After eating, the drug prompts the body to generate more insulin, which in turn helps to lower blood sugar. It also slows down the digestion process, keeping individuals feeling full for a longer period of time.
Clinical trials revealed that individuals who took tirzepatide experienced more nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea than those who received a placebo injection. Like other drugs in its category, it appears that tirzepatide helps individuals to shed significant amounts of weight.
Other Anti-Diabetics Used For Weight Loss
Semaglutide, manufactured by Novo Nordisk, has been authorized as a weight-loss therapy for overweight adults. It is marketed under the brand name Wegovy for weight loss purposes and Ozempic when prescribed for diabetes.
Eli Lilly releases results from the Surmount 2 trial which looks at tirzepatide in those with obesity overweight and type 2 diabetes. pic.twitter.com/fpknpD6AQl
— Sequence (@joinsequence) April 27, 2023
Due to high demand and production issues, Wegovy was in short supply for a significant portion of last year. This shortage subsequently affected diabetes patients as doctors began prescribing other diabetes medications for weight loss purposes.
More Study to Use Tirzepatide For Weight Loss
If these results are replicated in the real world, tirzepatide would be the most potent injectable weight loss medication available.
Guzune further said, “In the last year it has been really exciting just to have more tools in the toolbox, so to speak. And tools that, you know, we’re seeing really achieving outcomes that patients for the longest time have been hoping to achieve.”
In fact, Lilly is planning to commence a study this week that will pit Mounjaro against Wegovy head-to-head in 700 participants across 61 sites in the US and Canada, according to clinicaltrials.gov. The study is scheduled to conclude in February 2025.