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Mounjaro weight loss: How tirzepatide helps you lose weight

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Many drugs out there help in the battle against type 2 diabetes and critical obesity epidemic, but one has made a grand entrance and stolen the show. In May 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug called tirzepatide under the (MounjaroTM brand name. This new medication is the first and only dual-targeted treatment with a glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) receptor agonist and glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1) for adults with type 2 diabetes. 

The benefit of being a GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonist is that GIP has been shown to decrease food intake and regulate energy expenditure, so it aids in weight loss. And combining GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonists can have a more significant impact on metabolic dysregulation. 

Manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company, Mounjaro has also shown impressive results during trials with those with obesity and overweight. Although tirzepatide isn’t FDA-approved for weight loss yet, doctors can prescribe Mounjaro off-label for weight loss. Learn more about this drug and how it can support sustainable weight loss.

What is Mounjaro?

Mounjaro (tirzepatide) is a once-weekly injectable medication that helps lower blood glucose levels. It’s much like other popular GLP-1 medications like OzempicR, manufactured by competitor Novo Nordisk, but Mounjaro is in a class all its own because it’s a dual-targeted treatment. 

It’s currently indicated for those patients with type 2 diabetes but can be prescribed off-label for weight loss. For best results, Mounjaro should accompany healthy lifestyle changes—like diet and exercise.

Why are obesity doctors excited about Mounjaro weight loss?

The findings of a clinical trial on MounjaroTM and weight loss showed that participants dropped 5% to 22.5% of their total body weight. Those are impressive stats, given that people taking many existing FDA-approved medications for obesity, on average, lose between 5% to 15% of their total body weight. 

Eli Lilly released preliminary results from its SURMOUNT-1 clinical trial in April 2022. Participants with obesity or those with excess weight (a body mass index of 27 or greater) who had at least one other comorbidity (but not diabetes) had a weight reduction of up to 52 pounds during the 72-week Mounjaro (tirzepatide) trial. 

Weight loss on Mounjaro varied by dose. Study participants on a 5-mg dose of tirzepatide for weight loss experienced an average weight loss of 35 pounds or 16% of their body weight. Those on a 10 mg dose lost an average of 49 pounds or 21.4% of their body weight. On the highest dose—15 mg—people on tirzepatide lost an average of 52 pounds or 22.5% of their body weight. On the other hand, the placebo group lost just five pounds or 2.4% of their body weight over that same amount of time.

The double-blind Mounjaroweight loss drug clinical trial included 2,539 randomized participants throughout the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and Taiwan, with a mean baseline body weight of 231 pounds. All those randomly placed in the MounjaroTM (tirzepatide) study began with a 2.5-mg weekly dose. They then underwent a dose-escalation period that included 2.5-mg higher doses every four weeks until they reached their target dose of 5, 10, or 15 mg.

While the FDA approvedMounjaroTM (tirzepatide) to treat type 2 diabetes, doctors specializing in treating obesity are particularly excited about this medication given the preliminary SURMOUNT-1 results. 

“As a board-certified obesity specialist, I believe that MounjaroTM (tirzepatide) has the potential to be a game-changer in the treatment of obesity for certain patients who may not have responded to other medicines,” says Found Chief Medical Officer Rekha Kumar, MD, MS. “A medication with this efficacy gives hope to patients who have run out of existing medication options because the mechanism of MounjaroTM (tirzepatide) is unique. We are excited about the possibility of adding MounjaroTM (tirzepatide) to the broad toolkit of medications Found clinicians already use to provide the best care possible to each Found member.”

How does Mounjaro work?

As mentioned above, Mounjaro works much like other meds in the GLP-1 class, but it has the additional benefit of acting on not just one hormone but two. So unlike its predecessors, which have been very effective but only mimic one hormone, Mounjaro acts on two incretin hormones, which can make it more effective.

In their April 2022 press release, Eli Lilly explained why this dual mechanism is so important. They detailed that the GIP hormone receptor agonist complements the GLP-1 hormone receptor agonist in a novel way. In addition, the release noted that obesity “ is a chronic, progressive disease caused by disruptions in the mechanisms that control body weight, often leading to an increase in food intake and/or a decrease in energy expenditure.” 

The release said, “GIP has been shown to decrease food intake and increase energy expenditure, resulting in weight reductions, and when combined with GLP-1 receptor agonism, may result in greater effects on markers of metabolic dysregulation such as body weight, glucose and lipids.” Meaning the incretin hormones work together to help maintain weight loss by regulating blood glucose levels or appetite and helping your body lose more body fat.

But, what are incretin hormones exactly?

After eating, your gut naturally releases incretin hormones–the two primary hormones are GIP and GLP-1.  These hormones help regulate the insulin released by the pancreas to keep blood sugar levels under control effectively. But those who have overweight or obesity can become insulin resistant—meaning the body doesn’t respond to the hormone’s signaling—which results in too much glucose in the blood. Insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and elevated blood sugar levels. 

More than that, the GLP-1 incretin hormone helps food digestion happen more slowly, often called gastric or stomach emptying, causing you to feel fuller longer.

How does the Mounjaro pen work?

4The Mounjaro pen automatically injects the medication into your body through a hidden needle. When you press the button on the Mounjaro pen, the needle enters your skin and retracts when the injection is complete. 

You use the Mounjaro pen once weekly on a day that’s best for you. You can inject the medication into your upper arm, upper thigh, or abdominal area.

To maintain efficacy, you must keep your Mounjaro refrigerated (between 36°F to 46°F). Once used, you must dispose of the single-dose pen in a special FDA-cleared sharps container. If no sharps container is available, the Mounjaro site says to use a household container that is “heavy-duty plastic with a puncture-resistant lid” and “upright, stable, leak resistant, and properly labeled to warn of hazardous waste.”

What is the Mounjaro dosing schedule? 

It’s recommended for all patients to begin Mounjaro at 2.5 mg to see how well it’s tolerated and then increase the dose from there. It’s essential to follow the instructions of your healthcare provider. Here is Mounjaro’s recommended dosing schedule:

First four weeks: 2.5 mg weekly

Second four weeks: 5 mg once weekly

Third four weeks: 7.5 mg once weekly

Fourth four weeks: 10 mg once weekly

Fifth four weeks:  12.5 mg once weekly

Sixth four weeks: 15 mg once weekly (maximum dose)

How could Mounjaro (tirzepatide) help you lose weight?

Like similar GLP-1 medications, MounjaroTM (tirzepatide) is an injectable medication used once weekly that aids in controlling blood sugar levels that may also support weight loss.

GLP-1 receptor agonists seem to aid in weight loss in two key ways. First, they cause the stomach to empty more slowly, so you feel satisfied with less food. This slowing helps reduce caloric intake. Second, the GLP-1 receptor agonists appear to reduce appetite and hunger, which can help you make nutritional choices that better align with your goals.

The biological changes from GLP-1 medications may also help reduce your set point weight—the weight your body strives to maintain due to hormones, biology, and surroundings. Tirzepatide, like GLP-1medications used for weight loss such as Ozempic, SaxendaR, TrulicityR, RybelsusR, and VictozaR may help you lose weight and keep it off long-term.

The novel thing about tirzepatide is that it also works on GIP receptors. When you eat food, the GIP hormone stimulates insulin. But when your blood sugar falls, they stimulate glucagon secretion. Controlling these processes can help support weight loss beyond what GLP-1 medications and lifestyle changes alone can do.

Is Mounjaro weight loss FDA-approved for weight loss?

The FDA has approved MounjaroTM (tirzepatide) as a type 2 diabetes drug. Eli Lilly, the manufacturer, is expected to file for FDA approval for adults with obesity and overweight in 2023. Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Wegovy, took a similar path. It got FDA approval for the GLP-1Ozempic (semaglutide) as a treatment for type 2 diabetes before getting Wegovy, the same drug in a higher dosage, approved for weight management.

Although FDA approval for tirzepatide for use with obesity is still pending, there may be some cases where Found can prescribe diabetes medications, like Mounjaro, off-label for weight loss before its FDA approval for weight management. Additionally, the FDA is expediting the review process to get Mounjaro approved for obesity management (expected spring/summer 2023).

What are the tirzepatide side effects?

The most common MounjaroTM (tirzepatide) side effects are:

  • constipation

  • decreased appetite

  • diarrhea

  • indigestion

  • nausea

  • stomach pain

  • vomiting

Like most GLP-1 receptor agonists, tirzepatide has an FDA-mandated boxed—or black box—warning for patients with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or who have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. They should not take tirzepatide for weight loss or other treatments.

How much does Mounjaro cost?

Because Mounjaro is so new, many insurance companies don’t cover it yet. Mounjaro costs $1,023.04 per four-week fill, according to Lilly’s list price. Lilly states, “the amount you pay will largely depend on your prescription drug insurance plan.”

That means that one 28-day fill will be upward of $1,000 without insurance. Check with your insurance company to see if they cover Mounjaro. Another option is the Mounjaro Savings Card program by Eli Lilly. With this, you may pay as little as $25 for a one-month prescription if you qualify, but you must have commercial health insurance. Learn more about the Mounjaro Savings Card and more.

Will Found prescribe tirzepatide for weight loss?

Found offers a broad toolkit of medications and distinct treatment pathways to help people with obesity achieve sustainable weight loss. Our medical health care providers will assess a member's unique health care needs and prescribe medically appropriate treatments, which may include Mounjaro or a GLP-1 medication.

Found offers a science-backed approach to weight care based on your unique biology, psychology, lifestyle, and prescription medication needs. Members receiving medication plus behavior change support from Found lost at least 13% more weight, and in some cases up to 229% more, compared to people receiving the same medication in clinical studies.

To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.

GLP-1 Note: Found is not currently prescribing GLP-1 medications for weight loss, but we are considering it as a part of our strategy to help members meet their weight-loss goals in the future. Stay tuned for updates on a potential GLP-1 rollout at Found. Until then, we can still help you meet your weight loss goals with our current online weight loss program.

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