Tirzepatide gains FDA approval for Diabetes!

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The big news of the day or at least 1 month ago: tirzepatide has officially been approved by the FDA for diabetes management. I know as per usual I am bringing you the breaking news stories as they happen! 

If you have no idea what I am talking about then you should probably check out my previous blog post here. For those of you that are up to date, you will know it as another medication that is similar to Wegovy and Saxenda but has a slightly different component added on! 

So what is tirzepatide?

Tirzepatide or Mounjaro? Like Mount Kilimanjaro? I honestly have no idea. You know it is already insulting enough that big pharma has yet to pay off my student loans but they continue to make my life challenging with their ridiculous drug names. 

Tirzepatide is made by Eli Lilly and it has a GLP-1 component like that of Wegovy and Saxenda BUT it also has another component called glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide or GIP. So it is a GLP-1/GIP. Essentially this molecule has the power of the GLP-1 in reducing blood sugar levels and helping to decrease appetite and food-seeking behaviours, therefore, leading to weight-loss. BUT the addition of GIP seems to have a synergistic effect with the GLP-1 receptor agonist in producing further reductions in blood sugar and weight. 

In fact, a head-to-head trial called the SURPASS-2 trial compared tirzepatide to Ozempic 1mg once weekly and it was found that all 3 doses of tirzepatide were more effective than Ozempic 1mg once weekly in reducing blood sugar levels and leading to weight-loss. Needless to say, the results were pretty impressive and are going to give Ozempic and Wegovy a run for their money.  

So if tirzepatide or Mounjaro is approved for diabetes management, what does that mean?

Well it means the drug will be available in US pharmacies very soon and it will technically be indicated ONLY for type 2 diabetes management. That means if you want it to be covered by your insurance company you will need to have diabetes and more than likely be willing to fill out 30 pages of special auth paperwork. 

Now not to worry, it will be approved for Obesity management in the very near future – I am guessing sometime in 2023. If your primary care clinician is up to date on the evidence they might prescribe off-label in the meantime, but you will likely need to pay out of pocket for it as insurance won’t cover it for weight-loss alone until the FDA gives the approval.  

Speaking of costs, based on a Medscape article, it looks like a 1-month supply of tirzepatide will be on par with the cost of a 1-month supply of Ozempic – which is ~$1000 in the US and ~$230 here in Canada depending on which pharmacy you go to. So of course it will be cost-prohibitive out of pocket for most individuals in either country. Now tirzepatide has not yet been approved here in Canada but I have no doubt it will be soon. Generally, Health Canada is ~6 months behind the FDA. 

In the meantime, I hope that gives you the low down on the big news of tirzepatide being approved for diabetes management! Stay tuned for more details and please drop what questions you might have here

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Until next time, always remember small tweaks lead to massive peaks. 

– Dr. Dan 

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