The experimental drug, which is being studied clinically for its effects on obese or overweight people, has given study participants record weight loss results – as well as surgical options, as the pharmacist in charge assured.
Developed by the American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly), tirzepatide is a weekly injection that promotes weight loss by mimicking the effects of natural hormones known as incretins. These hormones can lower postprandial blood sugar as well as regulate digestive metabolic processes.
The new drug is not yet available on the market as it awaits further research, but it is the result of a synthetic combination of two specific incretins, GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) and GIP (an anti-gastric peptide).
GLP-1 is the foundation for the antidiabetic drug “semaglutide,” which was approved in the United States for weight loss in 2021, when a new weight loss treatment was first approved by the FDA. This approval was granted based on the results described as “game changers” in weight loss, but it appears that the tirepepid formula could change the game again.
The results of the Phase 3 clinical trial included 2,539 overweight or obese participants (with weight-related disease but no type 2 diabetes). Participants received either thyrzepatide or placebo for 72 weeks, as well as support in following a low-calorie diet and increasing physical activity. The drug was given in three different doses – 5, 10 or 15 milligrams per weekly injection – but all three groups had significant weight loss during the study.
At the highest dose (15 mg), participants experienced an average weight loss of 22.5% of body weight (24 kg), whereas the 10 mg dose achieved 21.4% weight loss (22 kg); At 5 mg, body weight was reduced by 16% (16 kg).
By comparison, the placebo group lost only 2.4% of its weight (2 kg). In weight loss experiments with semaglutide, the mean weight loss was approximately 17%.
“Tirzepatide is the first investigational drug to show an average weight loss of more than 20 percent in a phase 3 study,” said Jeff Emmick, a clinical research physician and director of product development at the drug manufacturer, who is expected to release the results of the study in 2023.