In a significant breakthrough, a study reveals that Mounjaro, a diabetes medication, aids individuals struggling with obesity or excess weight in losing a remarkable quarter of their body weight. On average, patients lost around 60 pounds when paired with rigorous diet and exercise regimes, as reported by the latest research.
In contrast, a control group following identical diet and exercise routines but receiving placebo injections initially experienced weight loss, which was unfortunately followed by weight regain, according to findings published Sunday in the journal Nature Medicine.
Dr. Thomas Wadden, a prominent obesity researcher and psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who spearheaded the study, pointed out, “This study highlights that by losing weight prior to commencing the drug, you can achieve even more substantial weight loss.”
Presented at a medical conference on Sunday, these results signify that the medication produced by Eli Lilly & Co. holds the potential to become one of the most potent treatments for obesity in medical history, according to experts not involved in the study.
Dr. Caroline Apovian, an obesity specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, commented, “Irrespective of how you interpret it, it equates to a quarter of one’s total body weight.”
Tirzepatide, an injectable drug, was granted approval in the United States in May 2022 for diabetes treatment. Marketed as Mounjaro, it has been utilized “off-label” to address obesity, joining the surge in demand for diabetes and weight-loss medications like Ozempic and Wegovy, produced by Novo Nordisk. These drugs, which come with price tags of $900 or more per month, have been in short supply for several months.
Tirzepatide is designed to target two hormones that regulate appetite and the sensation of fullness, which occur after meals and are communicated between the gut and the brain. In contrast, Semaglutide, used in Ozempic and Wegovy, targets one of these hormones.
Eli Lilly funded the new study, which involved approximately 800 participants dealing with obesity or weight-related health issues but not diabetes. On average, study participants began at a weight of about 241 pounds and had a body mass index (BMI) of approximately 38, a common metric for assessing obesity.
Following three months of rigorous diet and exercise, over 200 participants discontinued the trial, either due to insufficient weight loss or other reasons. The remaining nearly 600 individuals were randomly assigned to receive tirzepatide or a placebo via weekly injections over a span of about 16 months. Almost 500 participants successfully completed the study.
During the diet-and-exercise phase, participants in both groups shed approximately 7% of their body weight, equivalent to nearly 17 pounds. Those administered the drug continued to lose an additional 18.4% of their initial body weight, roughly 44 pounds on average. In contrast, those receiving the placebo experienced a regain of about 2.5% of their initial weight, or 6 pounds.
Overall, approximately 88% of those taking tirzepatide lost 5% or more of their body weight during the trial, compared to nearly 17% in the placebo group. Nearly 29% of those in the drug group lost at least a quarter of their body weight, compared to slightly over 1% in the placebo group.
Dr. Apovian remarked, “We’re achieving medical gastric bypass.”
The study noted that side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, and constipation, occurred more frequently in the drug group, primarily as the drug dosage was escalated. These side effects were mostly mild to moderate, and over 10% of drug recipients discontinued the study due to side effects, in contrast to about 2% in the placebo group.
Lilly is anticipated to release the results of another study demonstrating similar high rates of weight loss. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted the company a fast-track review for using the drug in obesity treatment, which Eli Lilly may market under a different brand name. A decision is expected by the end of the year.