Monday, December 11, 2023

Obesity drug from Eli Lilly helped boost weight loss to 26%

HealthObesity drug from Eli Lilly helped boost weight loss to 26%


The Eli Lilly logo is shown on one of the company’s offices in San Diego, California, September 17, 2020.

Mike Blake | Reuters

An Eli Lilly experimental drug helped patients lose about 26% of their weight on average following extended use or intensive lifestyle changes, according to results from two studies released Thursday.

It’s the highest weight reduction seen in a late-stage clinical trial to date, the company said. The injectable drug, tirzepatide, alone resulted in up to 22.5% weight loss in a previous phase three trial.

The data further bolsters Eli Lilly’s position in the budding weight loss drug market and establishes the company as a formidable competitor to Novo Nordisk, the Danish manufacturer of the blockbuster Ozempic and Wegovy treatments. 

Eli Lilly last month filed for Food and Drug Administration approval of the injection for chronic weight management. Tirzepatide is already approved in the U.S. and sold under the name Mounjaro for the treatment of diabetes. 

Both trials followed adults who were obese or overweight with weight-related conditions, but excluded those with Type 2 diabetes. 

Trial results

One trial, called Surmount-4, evaluated more than 600 people over two periods. 

Patients took tirzepatide for 36 weeks and achieved 21.1% weight loss on average. The patients were then randomized to either continue taking the injection or switch to a placebo for an additional 52-week period.  

Those who continued tirzepatide lost an additional 6.7% of their body weight on average after 52 weeks. Patients who switched to a placebo regained 14.8% of their weight on average over the same time period. 

Overall, patients who stayed on the drug lost 26% of their weight on average after 88 weeks.

The findings of the trial “reinforce that obesity should be regarded like other chronic diseases where chronic therapy may be needed to maintain treatment benefits,” Dr. Jeff Emmick, Eli Lilly’s senior vice president of product development, said in a statement.

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Weight loss craze

A selection of injector pens for the Wegovy weight loss drug are shown in this photo illustration in Chicago, Illinois, March 31, 2023.

Jim Vondruska | Reuters

The drugs were catapulted to the national spotlight in recent years for the dramatic level of weight loss they can help people achieve. 

Social media influencers, Hollywood celebrities and even billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk have reportedly used the popular injections to get rid of unwanted weight. 

But experts say the medicines may further perpetuate a dangerous diet culture that idealizes weight loss and thinness.

More than 2 in 5 adults have obesity, according to the National Institutes of Health

About 1 in 11 adults have severe obesity.


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