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Lilly Updates Open Letter Regarding the Use of Mounjaro and Zepbound for Cosmetic Weight Loss

Back in January, Eli Lilly wrote an open letter to the public about using its popular diabetes and weight loss drugs Mounjaro and Zepbound (tirzepatide) for “cosmetic” weight loss. The letter, further updated by the major pharmaceutical company on March 7, 2024, emphasized to the public that these drugs should only be used for the purposes for which the FDA has approved them.

Mounjaro is recommended to be used as an adjunct to exercise and diet to help manage blood sugar with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Adults who struggle with obesity or other weight-related conditions that call for reduced calorie intake and greater physical activity, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obstructive sleep apnea, should consider using Zepbound.

An Overview of Mounjaro and Zepbound

Mounjaro and Zepbound are sold as single-dose, once-weekly injectable pens or vials that contain tirzepatide as their active ingredient. Both brand-name medications share similar recommended dosages and interactions. Ozempic and Mounjaro side effects are also the same. Mounjaro is FDA-approved for improving blood glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes when used alongside diet and exercise. Zepbound is approved for adults with obesity or those overweight with additional weight-related conditions such as hypertension or type 2 diabetes mellitus, to be used with a fewer-calorie diet and increased physical activity. Both tirzepatide medications work best when they are used in combination with lifestyle changes. 

Lilly Stands Against the Use of its Tirzepatide Medications for Cosmetic Weight Loss

Lilly stated in its open letter that its FDA-approved tirzepatide medicines, Mounjaro and Zepbound, should not be used for cosmetic purposes, and they should only be used for long-term weight loss when prescribed by a licensed healthcare professional. The firm emphasized that its drugs, also known as GLP-1, should not be used by individuals who do not have obesity or Type 2 diabetes as it can pose potentially adverse health risks to people using them for other purposes. The medications have not been studied in patients with severe gastric diseases, including severe gastroparesis, and are not recommended for use in such patients. Additionally, as the safety and efficacy of tirzepatide in treating pediatric patients have not been established, these medications should only be taken by patients aged 18 and above. 

Safety Risks of Using Compounded or Counterfeit Tirzepatide

Lilly has not recommended the use of compounded or counterfeit tirzepatide, as these products may contain harmful substances that can expose patients to significant health hazards. Lilly does not sell or provide tirzepatide API to compounding pharmacies. It is also important to note that both of its popular diabetes and weight loss drugs, Mounjaro and Zepbound, are only available from and manufactured by Lilly. 

It was also stated in the letter that patients taking medications simply referred to only as “tirzepatide” are not taking an FDA-approved product. The company continues to aggressively pursue legal actions against individuals who falsely claim to sell Zepbound, Mounjaro or FDA-approved tirzepatide medications. If a person suspects that they may have obtained or used counterfeit or compounded tirzepatide, they should contact a healthcare professional and discuss their queries and concerns with them. 

Important Safety Information Regarding the Use of Tirzepatide Medications

The company addresses specific concerns regarding the use of these medications. It prioritizes patient safety. Patients who had or have Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Syndrome type 2, or medullary thyroid carcinoma should not use tirzepatide medicines as they can develop thyroid tumors, including thyroid cancer. They may also cause serious side effects such as pancreatitis, hypoglycemia, kidney problems, severe stomach problems, gallbladder problems, and serious allergic reactions. The common side effects of tirzepatide, according to the drug company, may include nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and decreased appetite. Patients should consult their healthcare practitioner about how to properly administer medication and overcome any unwanted side effects. 

Mounjaro Indication and Safety Summary

  • Mounjaro is indicated for use in adults with type 2 diabetes. 
  • It is not recommended for use in individuals with type 1 diabetes or people with a history of pancreatitis.
  • It may cause thyroid tumors, including thyroid cancer.
  • It should not be used by those patients who have a family history of Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2) or medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC).
  • Common side effects of Mounjaro may include nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, reduced appetite, constipation, abdominal pain and indigestion.
  • Patients should consult their physician or healthcare professional if the side effects persist or if they become bothersome. 

Zepbound Indication and Safety Summary

  • Zepbound is indicated for long-term weight management in adults with obesity or overweight with weight-related medical problems.
  • It should not be used with other GLP-1 receptor agonist medicines or tirzepatide-containing products.
  • It may cause thyroid tumors, including thyroid cancer.
  • It should not be used if there is a family history of MTC or MEN 2.
  • Common side effects of Zepbound may include nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, stomach pain, allergic reactions, injection site reactions, fatigue, belching, hair loss, and heartburn.

Is It Safe to Take Mounjaro and Zepbound for Weight Loss?

Mounjaro and Zepbound are medications that have been approved for specific uses pertaining to diabetes management and weight control. Mounjaro is FDA-approved for improving glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes and is used as part of a treatment plan that includes diet and exercise. It is noteworthy to mention that it is not specifically approved for weight loss, although weight loss can be a side effect of the medication. Zepbound is approved for obese or overweight people with at least one weight-related condition, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes. 

It should be used in conjunction with a lower-calorie, nutritious diet and regular physical exercise to aid in weight loss. It’s crucial to remember that Zepbound and Mounjaro should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional and according to their FDA-approved indications. They should not be used for cosmetic weight loss. If you are considering these medications for weight loss management, it is crucial to consult with your healthcare professional or physician to determine if the drugs will work best for you. 

Final Words

Eli Lilly is raising the alarm about the possible risks of knockoffs as the popularity of weight loss medications continues to soar, driven by celebrities and influencers. In conclusion, Lilly emphasizes in its open letter its commitment to patient safety and the significance of using these medications under the supervision of healthcare professionals. The letter also addresses the appropriate use, safety, and guidelines for Zepbound and Mounjaro. 
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