Mounjaro is a hormone-mimicking diabetes drug that's a lot like Ozempic.
A new trial suggests Mounjaro is even stronger than Ozempic for weight loss.
Side effects are also stronger, though, and they can include nausea, diarrhea, and hair loss.
An Ozempic rival proved highly effective in a new clinical trial — and could be approved for weight loss in just a few months, according to an expert who's been studying the drug.
Eli Lilly's Mounjaro is, like Novo Nordisk's Ozempic and Wegovy, a diabetes injectable with a side effect of weight loss. But the latest data suggests this one may be even more of a game-changer than the blockbuster weight loss drugs already dominating popular culture.
"This is a landmark," lead study author Dr. W Timothy Garvey, a senior scientist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham's Nutrition Obesity Research Center said on Friday at the American Diabetes Association conference, where the results were announced. He called them "very impressive" and referred to Mounjaro as "the big bomb in terms of weight loss."
The trial results were published in a large new study Friday night, in the medical journal The Lancet.
They showed the injection Mounjaro — which was approved to treat type 2 diabetes in May 2022 — was highly effective at helping overweight people with diabetes lose a substantial amount of weight. The drug helped them lose enough weight to lower their risk of other chronic diseases, and, in some cases, even put their diabetes in remission, while also shrinking their waistlines.
Patients with diabetes and obesity generally have a harder time losing weight than patients who are only overweight. But in this 72-week trial of overweight diabetics, nearly half (48%) of patients on a 15mg dose of Mounjaro lost at least 15% of their body weight.
Those weight loss results are on par with a 2021 study of Ozempic in patients who did not have diabetes — suggesting that Mounjaro is a more powerful, potent drug for weight loss. This is, in part, because the active ingredient in Mounjaro is a drug called tirzepatide, which mimics two different hunger-regulating hormones (GIP and GLP-1). Ozempic and Wegovy use semaglutide, which only mimics one hormone (GLP-1).
Garvey, who co-authored the study, which was funded by drugmaker Eli Lilly, said he expects the FDA could approve Mounjaro for weight loss "later this year."
But it's not for everyone. Side effects like nausea and gastrointestinal issues were more common with Mounjaro than with Ozempic, especially during the early phases of the trial, when patients were still ramping up their doses, and getting used to the medication. Some patients complained of fatigue, or had some hair fall out, because their weight loss was so rapid.
'These patients need new clothes'
Those who could benefit most from the drug already can't get their hands on it.
"Patients like this medicine," Garvey told Insider during a press briefing about the study on Friday.
He said some patients have been "crying in our office, because the study's over," and they won't have free access to tirzepatide anymore. "They like the weight loss they achieved, and they can't get the medicine anymore."
Many insurance carriers don't reimburse patients for pricey injectable drugs including Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro, and out of pocket costs can run upwards of $1,000 a month.
"In many patients, the weight is just gonna go back up once they stop the medicine," Garvey said.
Patients in the study lost so much weight that their BMI classifications dropped down into new categories (from "overweight" to "healthy," or from "obese" to "overweight.")
"These patients need new clothes, with a decrease in waist circumference of over five inches," Garvey said.
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