The FDA has just given a new weight loss medication the green light, It’s called Zepbound!
Mounjaro is an injectable medication that provides the drug Tirzepatide. In May 2022, the FDA approved its use as a treatment for type 2 diabetes.
One and a half years later, on November 8, 2023, the FDA gave its approval for the same drug to be used as a weight loss injection.  It’s expected to hit US pharmacy shelves by the end of the year.
However, Tirzepatide for weight loss has a new name. It’s going to be distributed as Zepbound.
Due to its ability to suppress appetite, doctors often prescribe Mounjaro as an off-label weight management aid for people who are overweight or obese. Bearing this in mind, it can be difficult to see the need to repackage and rename Mounjaro and then distribute it as if it’s a different thing.
However, if the reasons behind the idea of distributing the drug under two different names are hard to understand, the pricing structure takes the biscuit. [see cheaper and safer OTC alternatives to Zepbound]
Zepbound or Mounjaro
When it’s being distributed as Mounjaro, Tirzepatide has a list price of $1,023.04 for a 4-week supply (4 injections). When it’s being distributed as Zepbound, the manufacturer, Eli Lilly and Company, gave Tirzepatide a list price of $1,059.87.
Admittedly, that’s not a huge price hike but it’s still close to $39 more for the same thing – same drug, same dose, different name, and, it would appear, totally different ball game.
However, regardless of whether you purchase Tirzepatide as Mounjaro or buy it as Zepbound, it’s still a lot cheaper than Wegovy, which could be seen as being the nearest competitor.
Wegovy has a list price of $1,349.02 per 4-week supply (4 injections).
Wegovy provides the drug Semaglutide and, like Zepbound, it has FDA approval as a prescription weight management treatment.
Now that Zepbound has entered the picture, it could be that the company that markets Wegovy, Nova Nordisk, may bring down the cost of its medication to undercut the competition. If it does, this could work in the favor of consumers. Especially if it results in Lilly reducing the cost of using Zepbound as well.
Could there be tit-for-tat reductions in the cost of using both drugs? Only time will tell. If there is, the cost of many other weight loss medications may come down as well. This could be a godsend for people whose medical insurance does not cover medical interventions of this type.
However, it could be that many people who have the necessary financial resources may be willing to purchase Zepbound regardless of the price because it appears to be more powerful than Wegovy.
Zepbound is FDA Approved
The FDA approved Zepbound for weight loss based on the data provided by two clinical trials. The data shows people who were taking 15 mg of Zepbound had weight losses of 18% and 12% respectively (compared to the placebo group). 
When the FDA approved Wegovy for weight loss, in June 2021, it did so based on the evidence of clinical trials that showed the study participants given Wegovy lost 6.2% of their initial body weight (compared to the placebo group). 
The data may initially suggest people using Zepbound may lose weight around two to three times as fast as those using Wegovy. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
The Zepbound studies were conducted over 72 weeks. The Wegovy studies were conducted over 68 weeks. This makes it pointless to try and make a direct comparison but Zepbound certainly appears to be the most powerful of the two.
Zepbound and Wegovy have one main thing in common. They both belong to a class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists.
Drugs that fall into this category are synthetic versions of a naturally occurring gut hormone called GLP-1.
GLP-1 is produced in the gut. It’s released in response to the presence of food. After it is released, GLP-1 encourages the pancreas to produce insulin and glucagon to help keep blood sugar levels on an even keel.
GLP-1 slows down gastric emptying too. This causes food to stay in the stomach for longer. The resulting prolongation of satiety helps prevent hunger.
However, this is only part of the reason GLP-1 receptor agonists can be so effective for weight loss.
GLP-1 further reduces hunger by acting on the hunger centers inside the brain.
It would be easy to argue that one GLP-1 receptor agonist drug should be as good as another. However, although Wegovy solely works by mimicking GLP-1, Zepbound does not. It mimics the activities of an additional hormone as well. It’s called glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP).
GIP shares GLP-1’s ability to stimulate the brain into reducing hunger and, judging by the way Zepbound’s ability to support weight loss overshadows the abilities of Wegovy, this appears to be quite a game changer. [1, 2]
When it comes to ease of use, Zepbound and Wegovy are pretty much level-pegging it. Both medications only require one injection per month. This is provided by one-shot, disposable injector pens that contain a pre-measured dose of medication.
In both cases, new users begin with a lower dose and gradually increase it every four weeks until they reach the maximum dose.
The starting dose for Zepbound is 2.5 mg per week. The maximum dose is 15 mg. This is the dose for month six onward.
Regardless of whether you are using Zepbound or Wegovy, there is never any need to see the needle or watch it going in. After you set up the pens, you press them against the skin of your stomach, upper things, or upper arms. The injection process is automatic. The pens deliver the relevant medication just under the skin. The needle does not need to go in very far.
The side effects of the two medications appear to be similar as well. Research data suggests the main Zepbound side effects are likely to be gastrointestinal issues such as changes in bowel movement, nausea, and/or vomiting. It’s a similar situation with Wegovy.
However, Zepbound also appears to have the potential to cause hair loss, while its closest competitor does not.
Given how useful GLP-1 receptor agonists can be for weight loss, it is unfortunate that they are also associated with some very undesirable health risks.
As with Wegovy, Zepbound will have to be distributed with a medicine information sheet that warns of the risk of thyroid tumors.
GLP-1 receptor agonists may also have the potential to cause inflammation of the pancreas, kidney injury, and acute gallbladder disease. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and/or suicidal thoughts are two further side effects that potential users need to be aware of.
Since the FDA went public with its approval, there has been a lot of interest in Zepbound and the things it can do. However, the high price tag does not work in its favor and the potential risks of using the medication for weight loss are concerning.
Zepbound or Over the Counter Alternatives
It’s also worth noting that Zepbound is not as versatile as many over-the-counter weight management (OTC) options. All it does is control hunger. It does not speed up metabolism, help prevent diet-related fatigue, or do anything else over the counter alternatives can do.
When you think along these lines, it becomes harder to understand what all the fuss is about. However, with so many overweight and obese people in the world, who are desperate to lose weight, new weight management drugs always get plenty of attention and many people consider Zepbound to be the next big thing.