Weight loss drug Zepbound is now available, says Eli Lilly


This was announced by the drug manufacturer Eli Lilly Tuesday that its flagship weight loss drug, Zepbound, is now available for patient use.

Tirzepatide, its active ingredient, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat type 2 diabetes called Mounjaro. Last month, the FDA approved it for use in chronic weight management, giving an official seal of approval to a drug often prescribed off-label for weight loss.

Zepbound is intended for adults who are obese or those with a BMI over 30. It may also be prescribed for people who are overweight (with a BMI of 27 or more) and weight-related medical problems, including high blood pressure, 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, or cardiovascular disease.

Tirzepatide works by mimicking two hormones, GLP-1 and GIP, that stimulate the release of insulin in the body. It reduces appetite and slows the rate at which the stomach empties after a meal, resulting in a feeling of fullness. Semaglutide weight loss drugs, like Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy, target GLP-1 exclusively.

The drug will be available in six doses ranging from 2.5 milligrams to 15 milligrams by prescription that can be filled at retail and mail-order pharmacies, Lilly said in a news release.

Like other weight loss medications, Zepbound is an injection that patients self-administer once a week. In the press release, Lilly recommends taking the drug in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.

However, Lilly warned against this It should not be taken with other similar weight loss medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy.

In clinical studies, Zepbound was found to result in an average weight gain of more than 20%
Loss at higher doses over 72 weeks, more than observed at
other approved weight loss medications.

According to the FDA, major side effects of Zepbound include gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.

The drug’s label will also contain warnings about possible inflammation of the pancreas, gallbladder problems, low blood sugar, acute kidney injury, diabetic retinopathy, or retinal damage in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus, as well as suicidal behavior or thoughts.

Without insurance, Zepbound costs about $1,060 per month, slightly more
as Mounjaro’s list price of $1,023.

However, it is still unclear how comprehensive Zepbound will be covered. Medicare and Medicaid are not allowed to cover obesity medications. Lilly said it is issuing a savings card for those with commercial insurance that will allow them to get Zepbound for $25 for a one- or three-month prescription if their plans cover it. For those whose plans don’t cover Zepbound, the savings card would bring the cost down to $550 per month, or about half the list price.

Given the rapidly increasing demand for weight loss medications, there have been supply bottlenecks for many therapies. Mounjaro is still listed under “shortages” on the FDA’s drug shortage list, but all dose sizes are marked as available.