Have you heard of Zepbound?
About 70% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, and when we heard that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new medicine called Zepbound to treat these conditions, it seemed like a reason to rejoice. Let’s talk about what Zepbound is, what it isn’t, and what this may mean for you.
Zepbound is the name brand for a medication produced by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, and it contains the active ingredient tirzepatide. The FDA recently approved Zepbound for the treatment of obesity, which means a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater; or treatment of overweight, which is a BMI of 27 with at least one weight-related condition (like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or obstructive sleep apnea). A real-world example would be if a woman is five feet six inches tall, weighs 170 pounds, and has high cholesterol. In this instance, her BMI is 27, and she has a coexisting weight-related condition and meets the FDA criteria. However, if this same woman weighs 165 pounds, then her BMI is less than 27, and unfortunately, if someone does not meet the FDA criteria, their insurance will likely not approve and pay for Zepbound. Also, many commercial insurances either do not cover weight loss medications or will require a “step therapy,” meaning you must try other treatments before they approve the new medication on the market. Also, Medicare does not cover any weight loss medications.
The active ingredient, tirzepatide, is not brand new and has been on the market since May 2022 under the brand name Mounjaro. Technically, the FDA only approved Mounjaro for treating type 2 diabetes, but medical providers quickly realized that it was beneficial for weight loss and began to prescribe the medication “off-label” to help treat overweight or obese individuals. Unfortunately, there has been a critical shortage of Mounjaro since December 2022, leading providers and patients to seek alternative ways to meet their medication needs. The FDA allows for medications on the critical shortage list to be manufactured by compounding pharmacies outside the typical production and shipment chain. The pharmaceutical company announced that shipments of Zepbound to some retail pharmacies had begun on December 5, 2023, but it seems demand already far outweighs supply.
Luckily, other options exist for folks who may not be able to get Zepbound due to it not being available at the pharmacy or their insurance not covering it for any reason. If the medication remains on the critical shortage list, the FDA will allow for tirzepatide to be prescribed through compounding pharmacies. You may not be aware that under the same roof as Family 1st Healthcare is Journey Wellness. This side of the practice is focused on certain specific wellness goals, like weight loss, and is able to provide tirzepatide to people whose insurance may deny it.
Obesity and overweight are health conditions that are not going away on their own. Are all the new medications that seem to be coming on the market making you more hopeful that treatments are available? Or does it just make things more confusing when so many options are available?
The providers at Family 1st and Journey Wellness are here to help you if you are ready to start a weight loss journey of your own. Or post a comment or question below if you have been hearing about weight loss medicines in the news and are left confused.