Ozempic, a renowned medication celebrated for its weight loss properties, may soon face a formidable competitor in the form of tirzepatide, marketed under the brand name Mounjaro, as a promising Type 2 diabetes treatment awaits potential FDA approval for weight management.
Tirzepatide, a potent medication that leverages GIP and GLP-1 hormones, has shown potential for more effective weight loss and enhanced blood sugar control compared to semaglutide, the active ingredient in both Ozempic and Wegovy, according to recent research findings.
Here’s what you need to know about Mounjaro, a diabetes drug that could receive FDA approval for weight management as early as this year.
Mounjaro, also known by its active component, tirzepatide, is an FDA-approved prescription medication primarily used to treat Type 2 diabetes. Administered as a weekly subcutaneous injection, its primary function is to regulate blood sugar levels effectively.
This medication achieves its effects by targeting specific receptors in the brain responsible for the regulation of two essential hormones: GIP and GLP-1. Activation of these receptors has been linked to appetite reduction, decreased food intake, and improved insulin production management within the body.
Studies indicate that the simultaneous activation of receptors for both GIP and GLP-1 can lead to remarkable weight loss, with some research even suggesting outcomes akin to those seen in gastric bypass surgery. Dr. Natalie Azar, a medical contributor to NBC News, described Mounjaro’s results as substantial and emphasized its relevance in a nation where the majority of individuals grapple with overweight or obesity.
Should tirzepatide gain FDA approval for weight loss, manufacturer Eli Lilly anticipates it could become the highest-selling drug of all time, as reported by NBC News.
Weight management is particularly challenging for individuals with diabetes due to their unique physiological response to insulin. Therefore, tirzepatide holds significant potential as a valuable tool for patients with Type 2 diabetes seeking weight reduction, as noted by Dr. Shauna Levy, Medical Director of the Tulane Bariatric Center in New Orleans, in an interview with NBC News.
So, will Mounjaro overshadow Ozempic or Wegovy entirely?
Dr. Louis Aronne, the Director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, and a scientific advisor for Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, believes that more medication options with slight differences offer a positive outcome. He explains that individuals may respond differently to each medication, emphasizing the importance of choice.
Mounjaro’s Weight Loss Potential: Research Insights
A forthcoming analysis, set to be presented in October 2023 at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Hamburg, Germany, suggests that Mounjaro may surpass Ozempic in terms of effectiveness for weight loss and blood sugar management. Notably, this research has not yet been submitted for publication in a medical journal, according to a news release that preceded the conference.
The analysis involved the examination of 22 randomized controlled trials encompassing 18,472 Type 2 diabetes patients. While only two studies directly compared tirzepatide to semaglutide, the remaining 20 contributed to “indirect comparisons,” as stated in the press release.
In these trials, patients self-administered either a 5, 10, or 15-milligram dose of tirzepatide weekly or a 0.5, 1, or 2-milligram dose of semaglutide weekly for a minimum of 12 weeks.
The findings indicated that all three tirzepatide doses achieved greater reductions in A1C—a metric for blood sugar levels—compared to the respective low, medium, and high doses of semaglutide.
For weight loss, tirzepatide was notably “superior” to semaglutide, particularly at higher doses. Patients receiving the highest Mounjaro dose lost nearly 13 pounds more on average compared to their counterparts taking the highest Ozempic dose.
Previous clinical trials had also yielded impressive results for Mounjaro, with obese or overweight individuals with Type 2 diabetes experiencing weight reductions of up to 15% of their body weight, or approximately 34 pounds, as reported by Eli Lilly in April 2023. This starkly contrasted with the 3% average weight loss, equivalent to 7 pounds, observed in patients who received a placebo during the trials.
Another study found that tirzepatide facilitated weight loss of nearly a quarter of body weight, around 22%, in overweight or obese individuals without diabetes over 17 months, compared to a mere 2% weight loss in the placebo group.