HomePharma & BiotechDrug Discovery and DevelopmentEntrusting an Already-established Therapeutic to Ease the Obesity Epidemic

Entrusting an Already-established Therapeutic to Ease the Obesity Epidemic

Although human beings do have an expensive knowhow, there is nothing we know better than improving at a consistent pace. This progressive approach, on our part, has already got the world to hit upon some huge milestones, with technology appearing as a major member of the stated group. The reason why technology enjoys such an esteemed stature among people is, by and large, predicated upon its skill-set, which ushered us towards a reality that nobody could have ever imagined otherwise. Nevertheless, if we look up close for a second, it will become clear how the whole runner was also very much inspired from the way we applied those skills across a real world environment. The latter component was, in fact, what gave the creation a spectrum-wide presence, and consequentially, kickstarted a tech revolution. Of course, this revolution then went on to scale up the human experience through some outright unique avenues, but even after achieving such a monumental feat, technology will somehow continue to produce the right goods. The same has grown increasingly evident over the recent past, and assuming one new healthcare-themed development shakes out just like we envision, it will only make that trend bigger and better moving forward.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has formally deemed Lily’s drug for type 2 diabetes as approved for use in cases of chronic weight management. Marketed under the name of Zepbound, the stated drug is conceived using a main ingredient called tirzepatide, a peptide designed to bind to the GLP-1 receptor. This binding effectively stimulates the secretion of the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin, an effect that was the basis for tirzepatide’s approval in type 2 diabetes last year. However, when you activate the GLP-1 receptor in the way this drug does, you also end up regulating the patient’s appetite, meaning they feel fuller, eat less, and become more likely to shed some pounds. Now, although companies such as Novo Nordisk do have a similar approach of employing a peptide called semaglutide to hit GLP-1, they remain a step behind from Lily due to one particular factor. You see, the latter’s peptide also simultaneously binds to another receptor called GIP, something understood to give patients greater control over how much they eat. Despite the upside though, FDA’s approval for Zepbound only came after two placebo-controlled studies that enrolled over 2,500 patients. Notably enough, all these participants were obese and had at least one weight-related condition. During the study, the participants were randomly assigned to receive one of three doses of the study drug or a placebo. After a timeframe spanning 72 weeks, participants who got all three dose levels showed statistically significant weight loss compared to the placebo. Having an average body weight of 231 pounds and a BMI of 38, the study observed, in terms of concrete numbers, that patients who received the highest Zepbound dose lost an average 18% of their body weight compared to those given a placebo.

“Obesity and overweight are serious conditions that can be associated with some of the leading causes of death such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes,” said John Sharretts, director of the Division of Diabetes, Lipid Disorders, and Obesity at the FDA. “In light of increasing rates of both obesity and overweight in the United States, today’s approval addresses an unmet medical need.”

The approval in question covers obese adults with a body mass index of 30 or greater. Apart from that, it can be prescribed to overweight adults who have a BMI of 27 or greater and at least one weight-related problem, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obstructive sleep apnea. Talk about how to administer the drug, it is once-weekly injection intended for use alongside diet and exercise, quite similar to how Lily’s Mounjaro is used in type 2 diabetes. Also boasting the same main ingredient and prescription pattern as Mounjaro, Zepbound will be supplied in six doses that can be administered by an autoinjector pen. As for pricing, you can avail 1 full month supply in exchange of $1,059.87. However, in order to make it more affordable, Lily is implementing a special savings card program. Under this program, people who are commercially insured with coverage for Zepbound may be eligible to pay as low as $25 for a 1-month or 3-month prescription. Furthermore, people who are commercially insured without coverage for Zepbound may be eligible to pay as low as $550 for a 1-month prescription of the drug, which is still almost 50% lower than the original price.

“Unfortunately, despite scientific evidence to the contrary, obesity is often seen as a lifestyle choice – something that people should manage themselves,” said Dr. Leonard Glass, senior vice president of global medical affairs for Lilly’s Diabetes and Obesity division. “For decades, diet and exercise have been a go-to, but it’s not uncommon for a person to have tried 20-30 times to lose weight with this approach. Research now shows that the body may respond to a calorie-deficit diet by increasing hunger and reducing feelings of fullness, making weight loss more difficult. Lilly is aiming to eliminate misperceptions about this disease and transform how it can be managed.”

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