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GLP-1 Medicine Mounjaro May Be First Drug to Ease Sleep Apnea

Recent clinical trials have revealed that Mounjaro, a groundbreaking medication for obesity and diabetes, might also help alleviate symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Known by the names Mounjaro and Zepbound, this drug belongs to the GLP-1 class, similar to Ozempic. GLP-1 drugs mimic a hormone in the body that slows digestion and creates feelings of fullness, leading to significant weight loss.

Mounjaro Pen has already been approved by the FDA for treating obesity and diabetes. Researchers are now exploring its potential to address other obesity-related health issues, such as cardiovascular disease and heart failure. In these recent studies, they focused on whether Mounjaro could improve symptoms of OSA, a condition where people may stop breathing during sleep. This promising development could mean a new way to tackle sleep apnea, offering hope for many who suffer from this condition.

Mounjaro Reduced Sleep Apnea Events by Approximately 66%

In an exciting follow-up, researchers have published findings from a two-year study involving over 400 adults with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This study, sponsored by Eli Lilly, the company behind Mounjaro and Zepbound, was highlighted in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The results are astounding. Tirzepatide, the active ingredient in Mounjaro, reduced sleep apnea symptoms by nearly 66% in some adults, while those on a placebo only saw a 5% reduction. Dr. Caroline Apovian from Harvard Medical School, though not involved in the study, described the results as “really incredible.” Dr. Oliver Sum-Ping from Stanford Medicine also praised the findings, noting the substantial potential of these medications to alleviate OSA symptoms.

The SURMOUNT-OSA trial, a multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, involved 469 patients with OSA. The first part of the study focused on patients with both OSA and obesity who were not yet using positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy, the gold standard for OSA treatment. The second part included patients with the same conditions who were using PAP therapy already. In both groups, patients who were taking tirzepatide were matched with those taking a placebo, showing a clear and significant benefit for those on the medication. This discovery opens new doors for treating sleep apnea, especially for those struggling with obesity.

Why Do We Still Need New Treatments for Sleep Apnea?

To further explore the potential of tirzepatide, researchers conducted two trials over 52 weeks. They compared the number of apnea events (when a patient stops breathing while sleeping) at the start and end of the study. In the first trial, patients started with an average of 51.5 apnea events per hour. By the end of the trial, those taking tirzepatide had reduced this to 36 events per hour, a nearly 30% decrease. In contrast, the placebo group only saw a reduction of about five events per hour, less than a 10% drop.

The second trial focused on patients already using PAP therapy. These patients began with 49.5 apnea events per hour, which dropped to 20.2 events per hour after 52 weeks on tirzepatide—a reduction of almost two-thirds. Again, the placebo group only saw a small improvement of about five fewer events per hour. Dr. Oliver Sum-Ping commented that while only the abstract has been published so far, the findings show a lot of promise. He noted, “There is significant need for new treatment options in this space, and the results in this study are very strong.”

However, Dr. Sum-Ping also pointed out that despite these impressive results, patients still experienced a significant degree of sleep apnea. This suggests that while tirzepatide is highly effective, it does not completely eliminate the condition. As with any medication, it’s essential to consider potential Mounjaro side effects, but the promising results indicate that tirzepatide could become a valuable option in treating obstructive sleep apnea.

What Are the Additional Benefits and Considerations?

The trials also looked at secondary benefits like weight loss, improved blood pressure, and self-reported sleep quality. While the abstract doesn’t detail these outcomes, it mentions “significant improvements.” Eli Lilly, the maker of Mounjaro, previously announced that patients using tirzepatide could expect to lose between 18-20% of their body weight, compared to just 1-2% for those on a placebo.

Importantly, the abstract doesn’t mention any participants dropping out due to side effects. Most reported side effects were mild-to-moderate gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which are common with GLP-1 drugs. However, more serious complications can occur. In 2023, the FDA added a warning for some GLP-1 drugs about ileus, a rare but potentially fatal intestinal blockage. As we learn more about Mounjaro’s effects, it’s essential to consider these potential side effects and monitor patients closely. Nonetheless, the promise shown in treating sleep apnea and other conditions is encouraging.

No Drugs Currently Approved to Treat Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder, occurring when a person’s airway becomes blocked during sleep, leading to restricted airflow. Despite its prevalence, there are currently no FDA-approved drugs for treating OSA. This opens up significant potential for tirzepatide if it gains FDA approval for this condition. The current “gold standard” for treating OSA is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy. This involves wearing a CPAP mask during sleep, which delivers a steady stream of air to keep the throat and airways open, allowing for normal breathing. While CPAP is effective, many find it cumbersome and uncomfortable or are bothered by the noise of the machine.

Dr. Sum-Ping explains, “CPAP works great for many patients, but it is not a good solution for everybody. There are many people with significant sleep apnea for whom there is no adequate treatment option. This study is exciting because it provides a reason for optimism for many of these patients. Understanding how Mounjaro works is key to appreciating its potential. Mounjaro, a GLP-1 drug, mimics a hormone in the body that slows digestion and promotes feelings of fullness, leading to weight loss. This weight loss can significantly improve sleep apnea symptoms, as seen in the recent trials.


In clinical trials, tirzepatide significantly reduced sleep apnea events by up to 66% over 52 weeks in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In comparison, those taking a placebo saw a reduction of less than 10%. These promising results were published in an abstract in the New England Journal of Medicine, involving over 400 participants with OSA. Currently, the “gold standard” treatment for sleep apnea is using a CPAP machine. While effective, many patients find it cumbersome and uncomfortable. This new study suggests that medications like tirzepatide could soon offer an alternative for treating OSA.
It’s important to note that there are no FDA-approved drugs for sleep apnea yet. While experts are optimistic about the potential of tirzepatide, more research is needed to confirm these findings. For those considering options, it’s worth exploring where to buy Mounjaro from Canada, as it may provide access to this promising treatment before it becomes widely available in other regions.

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