Zepbound shortage: Your choices for weight loss drugs while tirzepatide’s supply is low

Zepbound shortage: Your choices for weight loss drugs while tirzepatide’s supply is low

Zepbound shortage: Your choices for weight loss drugs while tirzepatide’s supply is low

Demand for weight loss drugs have created a Mounjaro and Zepbound shortage. Here’s what you can do if you’re taking either of these to lose weight.

Elizabeth Millard
Last updated:
5 min read
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In considering weight-loss medication options, you and your provider may have narrowed down the choices to Zepbound or Mounjaro®, but that prompts an important question: Can you even get the meds you need, given the widely reported Mounjaro and Zepbound shortage?

Is there a shortage on Zepbound? 

Currently, yes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks the availability of prescription drugs, and the agency confirms that due to increased demand for both, some doses have been marked as "limited availability," at least through July 2024. However, according to some media reports, that may be an understatement.

For example, a piece in the New York Post reported that some patients have had to drive up to five hours to find a pharmacy that stocked the doses of the medication they needed. That's led to concern about potential compounded versions of the drug, according to an NBC News report, and worries about the lack of availability for those with type 2 diabetes who use Mounjaro to control their blood sugar.

An article in Becker's Hospital Review noted that Zepbound has become increasingly popular since its launch in December 2023. By early March, new prescriptions for Zepbound exceeded those for the weight-loss drug Wegovy®, which until then had been the most popular FDA-approved treatment for weight management.

How do Mounjaro and Zepbound work for weight loss? 

Mounjaro and Zepbound feature the same dual mechanism that targets cell receptors for the body’s natural GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1) and GIP  (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) hormones. 

By mimicking these hormones, these drugs aid weight loss. (The active ingredient for both drugs, manufactured by the drugmaker Eli Lilly, is tirzepatide.) One mechanism decreases food intake and increases energy expenditure while the other helps regulate blood glucose levels and appetite, with both contributing to weight loss. 

This contrasts with Wegovy® and Ozempic®, which use a single mechanism that targets only GLP-1 cell receptors. This promotes weight loss by slowing digestion, so you feel fuller longer after eating. (Both of these drugs contain the active ingredient semaglutide, and are manufactured by Novo Nordisk.)  

What doses of Zepbound and Mounjaro are available? 

Not all Mounjaro and Zepbound doses are in limited supply, according to the FDA Shortages List. For example, the 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, and 12.5 mg doses are, as of this writing, available for both drugs—but it's also possible that with supply shortages at other dosages, the ones available now may become scarce. This being the case, it may help to look at alternatives if you want to start your weight care journey now and don’t want to wait on the Mounjaro or Zepbound shortages to end.

When will the Mounjaro shortage end?

In July 2024, the FDA Drug Shortages list shows limited availability for Mounjaro through the end of Q2, due to increased demand.  

When will the Zepbound shortage end?

Because Mounjaro and Zepbound are made by the same company and contain the same active ingredient, Zepbound is also in limited supply, according to the FDA Drug Shortages list, through July 2024. 

Can other drugs help you lose weight during the Mounjaro and Zepbound shortages?

Although the high demand for Zepbound and Mounjaro might make it seem as though these drugs are the best choices for weight management, other prescription medications are worth considering—and one of those alternatives may even be a better fit for you.

For instance, studies and clinical evidence show that other drugs such as metformin can also promote weight loss. Or you may try a different GLP-1, like Ozempic, Trulicity®, Rybelsus®, Saxenda®, or Victoza®. 

None of these medical paths is better than the others—but often, there may be one that is better for you. That's why working with a provider trained in weight management can be instrumental in finding the right weight care medication for you. Found's doctor-designed weight loss program leverages MetabolicPrintTM, a proprietary metabolic health assessment engine, and Found-affiliated clinicians trained in obesity medicine to find a medication tailored to your unique biology and the distinctive root causes of your weight challenges. 

 Exploring alternative medications can also be helpful when it comes to having your weight loss medications covered by insurance. For some meds, insurers will cover generic versions of a drug but not the brand-name version, or they may offer coverage for some GLP-1 receptor agonists but not others. And many insurers require you to try a less expensive medication first—it’s a process called step therapy—before approving a more expensive treatment. 

Understanding your options and what's involved is essential to creating a weight management plan that works best for you.

What to do if a prescription is out of stock

When your prescription is out of stock, it's helpful to talk with a professional about what to do about the meds you and your provider chose. Together you may decide to wait out the shortage or kick off your weight care with another medication during this shortage of Zepbound and Mounjaro.

You’ll also want to be mindful of what to expect with any drug you take. For instance, GLP-1 and GLP-1/GIP receptor agonists have some known side effects. The most common ones are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and acid reflux, these often subside as your body gets used to the drug. However, it’s important to note more serious but less common side effects can also occur, including pancreatitis, gastroparesis, gallbladder disease, and worsening diabetic eye disease. 

Those with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasias should not use them. (In animal studies, receptor agonists have been linked to an increased risk of C-cell tumors.)

The FDA has a “black box warning” on metformin as it carries a serious safety risk of lactic acidosis. This rare but potentially fatal condition is when too much lactic acid builds up in the bloodstream. It can lead to low blood pressure, breathing issues, heart failure, and even death. Find detailed side effect and risk information for specific medications by name on our dedicated medication page

When you’re ready, a Found-affiliated obesity-trained health care provider can help you determine which medication path is right for you. Prescriptions are up to your medical provider’s discretion. See if you’re eligible for weight loss medication and get started today by taking our quiz.

GLP-1 and tirzepatide prescriptions, filled through your local pharmacy, are now available as part of Found's weight-loss toolkit. While these medications can be effective for weight loss, like all medicines, they are not clinically appropriate for everyone. Eligibility for these drugs is based on a thorough evaluation of your medical history and lab work. If GLP-1s or tirzepatide are not appropriate for you, our providers will work with you to determine an effective medication for your health profile.

About Found

Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, serving nearly 250,000 members to date. To discover your MetabolicPrint and start your journey with Found, take our quiz.

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Published date:
July 10, 2024
Ready to lose weight and live your healthiest life?
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Meet the author
Elizabeth Millard
Freelance health journalist
Elizabeth Millard is a freelance journalist specializing in health and wellness, with a particular focus on weight management, hormone regulation, and emotional health.

Sources

Current and Resolved Drug Shortages and Discontinuations Reported to FDA. (April 10, 2024.) U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved July 9, 2024 from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/drugshortages/dsp_ActiveIngredientDetails.cfm?AI=Tirzepatide%20Injection&st=c

Desperate users of Ozempic rival Zepbound drive five hours to get weight-loss meds because of shortages. (April 8, 2024.) New York Post. Retrieved April 11, 2024 from https://nypost.com/2024/04/08/business/desperate-zepbound-users-drive-five-hours-to-nearest-pharmacy/

Ozempic, Mounjaro negative impacts: Drug shortages and black market. (March 27, 2024.) NBC News. Retrieved April 11, 2024 from https://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/ozempic-mounjaro-rx-shortages-black-market/3493732/

FDA confirms Zepbound shortage. (April 3, 2024.) Becker's Hospital Review. Retrieved April 11, 2024 from https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/glp-1s/fda-confirms-zepbound-shortage.html

FDA Approves Lilly's Zepbound (tirzepatide) for Chronic Weight Management, a Powerful New Option for the Treatment of Obesity or Overweight with Weight-Related Medical Problems. (November 8, 2023.) Retrieved April 11, 2024 from https://investor.lilly.com/news-releases/news-release-details/fda-approves-lillys-zepboundtm-tirzepatide-chronic-weight

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