In recent months, there has been a swelling interest in using diabetes drugs to treat weight loss.
But the anti-obesity drug craze is about to be rocked by another major development. The diabetes drug Mounjaro could be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weight loss later this year, according to manufacturer Eli Lilly. The company just completed a late-stage study of the drug for weight loss and found the participants lost more than 50 pounds in nearly 17 months.
“We have not seen this degree of weight reduction,” Dr. Nadia Ahmad, Lilly’s medical director of obesity clinical development, told CBS News.
Analysts predict that Mounjaro, tirzepatide generically, could become one of the biggest-selling drugs ever. Evaluate Pharma estimates as much as $50 billion in sales by 2028. To put this in perspective, Novo Nordisk, which makes Ozempic and Wegovy, reported combined sales of about $2.4 billion in 2022.
How does Mounjaro work?
Mounjaro was approved by the FDA last year to treat Type 2 diabetes. Patients take it via injection once per week. The drug works by activating two hormones naturally produced in the body that help to reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness. It also curbs craving signals chemically sent from the gut to the brain.
“Psychologically, you don’t want to eat,” said Matthew Barlow, a health technology executive, told CBS News. “Now I can eat two bites of a dessert and be satisfied.”
Though trials have shown the drugs to be safe, side effects include nausea and constipation.
Mounjaro isn’t cheap. A monthly dose can run as much as $1,400. But if the FDA approves it for weight loss, people prescribed the medication for obesity could more easily be covered by insurance.