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FDA approves Zepbound™, another new obesity drug
The blockbuster weight loss drugs Wegovy® and Ozempic® have been in the news for much of the past year. This past April, we posted an article about these drugs, explaining the basics of how they work and who is eligible to take them. This month, the FDA approved another drug called Zepbound™ (tirzepatide) that has shown impressive results for weight loss, offering another option for the treatment of obesity.
Zepbound, manufactured by Eli Lilly for chronic weight management, has been approved for use in adults who are overweight or obese and have at least one weight-related condition (diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol). The drug had already been approved for diabetes under the brand name Mounjaro™. It works by targeting proteins called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptors (GLP-1R), like Wegovy and Ozempic (semaglutide), but also targets a peptide hormone called glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP).1
Zepbound is a once-weekly injection with increasing doses (5mg to 15mg) over a period of 4-20 weeks. In a clinical trial of over 2,500 patients, those who received the 15mg dose of tirzepatide lost 18% of their body weight over 72 weeks.2 Similar to Wegovy and Ozempic, the most common side effects were nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain, which most patients tolerated or overcame as they adjusted to the treatment. The medication should not be used in patients with a family history of medullary thyroid cancer or those with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. Zepbound should also not be used with any other GLP-1-based weight loss medications like Wegovy or Ozempic, as it has not been tested in combination with these medications.2
It is expected that Zepbound will be available by the end of 2023 and the manufacturer has announced that it will cost $1,060 per month. The availability of Zepbound for weight management may help to alleviate the current shortages of Wegovy and Ozempic.
- Commissioner, O. of the. FDA Approves New Medication for Chronic Weight Management. FDA https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-new-medication-chronic-weight-management (2023).
- Jastreboff, A. M. et al. Tirzepatide Once Weekly for the Treatment of Obesity. New England Journal of Medicine 387, 205–216 (2022).