UK ( Parliament Politics Magazine ) The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the green light to a new weight-loss drug called tirzepatide. This approval extends to adults grappling with overweight or obesity, along with at least one weight-related condition like high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. The UK’s Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has also granted its approval, though its utilization by National Health Service doctors hinges on a separate assessment of its cost-effectiveness.
Remarkably, tirzepatide showcased its prowess in clinical trials by slashing body weight by an impressive average of nearly 21 percent in individuals contending with overweight or obesity. According to Louis Aronne at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, this level of weight loss is unparalleled in the realm of medications, likening it to the magnitude achieved through surgical means.
Tirzepatide Receives FDA Approval for Weight Loss
Lilly, the US pharmaceutical powerhouse, initially secured approval for this prescription medication under the moniker Mounjaro, primarily designed to address type 2 diabetes. Now, with its rebranded identity as tirzepatide, it has clinched approval as the seventh medication sanctioned for weight loss in the United States.
Zepbound, the commercial alias for tirzepatide, operates as a once-weekly injection mirroring the actions of two crucial hormones: GLP-1 and GIP. Normally, the body generates GIP upon the initiation of eating, heightening the sense of hunger, and subsequently releases GLP-1 after a meal to induce the feeling of fullness, as explained by Aronne. Intriguingly, when GIP is administered alongside GLP-1, it has the unexpected effect of further curbing appetite, a phenomenon that still eludes complete understanding.
The potency of tirzepatide likely stems from the synergistic combination of its dual hormone mimicry. In a 2022 clinical trial led by Aronne and team, over 2500 adults grappling with obesity, sans diabetes, were administered either a placebo or varying doses of tirzepatide over a 72-week period. Strikingly, those receiving the highest dose witnessed an average weight loss of nearly 21 percent, equivalent to almost 24 kilograms. On the other hand, individuals on the lowest dose still experienced a substantial 15 percent reduction in body weight, roughly 16 kilograms.
Tirzepatide Has Multiple Effects on The Body
In comparison, the widely used weight loss medication semaglutide, which emulates GLP-1, achieves an average weight loss of about 15 percent, although a head-to-head trial between the two is yet to be concluded.
Tirzepatide doesn’t just stop at weight loss—it also exhibits a multifaceted impact on health. Individuals on the medication experienced reductions in cholesterol levels, insulin, and blood pressure, coupled with enhanced physical mobility. As Louis Aronne points out, achieving a weight loss of 15 percent or more, a common outcome with such medications, leads to substantial improvements in the complications associated with obesity.
However, the road to widespread adoption faces a hurdle in England. The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in September laid down a directive that confines tirzepatide’s use for treating type 2 diabetes to cases where other blood sugar control methods have proven ineffective or poorly tolerated. The verdict on its application specifically for weight loss is still pending.
The uncertainty surrounding the long-term health risks of tirzepatide, especially in comparison to medications like semaglutide that solely mimic GLP-1, adds a layer of complexity to its use. Medications with a longer track record naturally provide a more established understanding of potential risks and benefits
Side Effects of Tirzepatide
While tirzepatide has exhibited the potential to induce thyroid tumors in rats, the leap to humans remains uncertain, as noted by the FDA. Consequently, the agency advises against the use of this medication for individuals with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer, as well as those with specific inherited endocrine disorders.
Despite this cautionary note, many individuals grappling with obesity find that the health advantages offered by tirzepatide outweigh the potential risks associated with its use. The delicate balance between potential downsides and the significant health benefits makes the decision to use tirzepatide a nuanced one, subject to individual circumstances and medical considerations.
“One of the best outcomes can be reversing complications that are associated with [overweight and obesity],” reveals Jaisinghani. “By reversing some of those complications we now have an opportunity to potentially take people off other medications, and this not only improves their health, but their quality of life.”