India Approves The Weight Loss & Diabetes Drugs: Everything You Need To Know

"Clinical trials have shown significant reductions in HbA1c and body weight compared to placebo and other diabetes medications." Dr. Chaturvedi explains.

India Approves The Weight Loss & Diabetes Drugs: Everything You Need To Know

The medications were developed mainly to treat type 2 diabetes but can also be used for weight loss

Eli Lilly and Co., the pharmaceutical company, has secured the first approvals for the import and sale of a weight-loss medication in India, surpassing Olympic maker Novo Nordisk AS. Eli Lilly plans to market it under the brand names Zepbound and Mountjaro, which are both chemically known as tirzepatide. These were developed mainly to treat type 2 diabetes, though they can also be given to treat weight loss. 

Eli Lilly currently holds the expert committee's permission but the Indian drug regulator has not yet given it their permission. The pharmaceutical business intends to sell the medication as a single-dose vial and as an injection in a pre-filled pen for a single dose. According to Dr Monica Mahajan, HOD, Internal Medicine at Max Hospitals, "Tirzepatide is an injection used subcutaneously for sugar control in type 2 diabetics and for weight loss in obese individuals. It has been available as Mounjaro for sugar management and as zepbound for weight loss. It has been widely used in America and the European nations leading to hoarding, black marketing, gross misuse without proper medical advice and a challenge of demand versus supply for patients who genuinely required it. With Eli Lilly seeking permission from Indian authorities to sell this drug, it will be a ray of hope for patients who legitimately deserve to receive it. It is a glucagon -like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor and gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP) agonist. These are human gut hormones which stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas and this is how the medicine works in diabetics. It also produces a feeling of fullness and satiety on taking small amounts of food resulting in weight loss. Needless to say, it will only work as an adjunct to diet and exercise and not as a magic wand if patients don't modify their lifestyle. The side effects include nausea, vomiting, bloating, abdominal pain, dizziness and low sugar/ hypoglycemia. It is not to be used in a patient who has suffered from a type of thyroid cancer called medullary carcinoma thyroid or has a family member who has suffered from the same. It has to be used under medical supervision. The injection has been available abroad since 2022 and the Indian medical fraternity is eagerly awaiting its launch in our country as soon as the regulatory authorities approve the same. 

We also spoke to Dr. Richa Chaturvedi, Senior Endocrinologist at Apollo hospital, New Delhi about the drug and some concerns around it. Here's what she had to say:

How does Tirzepatide work?

Tirzepatide is a medication that works by mimicking two important hormones in the body: GIP and GLP-1. When injected, it activates receptors for these hormones, triggering a cascade of effects. It stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin when blood sugar is high, reduces the amount of sugar produced by the liver, slows down digestion, and signals the brain to feel full. This combined action helps lower blood sugar levels in diabetics and reduces appetite, leading to weight loss in people with obesity. By influencing multiple body systems simultaneously, tirzepatide offers a powerful approach to managing both diabetes and weight.

How will it help diabetics and obese people?

For diabetics, tirzepatide improves glycemic control by enhancing insulin secretion and reducing glucagon levels. In obesity management, it promotes weight loss through decreased appetite and food intake. Clinical trials have shown significant reductions in HbA1c and body weight compared to placebo and other diabetes medications.

What's the difference between Zepbound and Mountjaro?

Zepbound and Mounjaro are the same medication (tirzepatide) marketed under different brand names for different indications. Mounjaro is approved for type 2 diabetes treatment, while Zepbound is approved for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight with at least one weight-related comorbidity.

Who will Tirzepatide indicated fror?

Tirzepatide is indicated for adults with type 2 diabetes (Mounjaro) and for chronic weight management in adults with BMI ≥30 kg/m², or ≥27 kg/m² with at least one weight-related comorbidity (Zepbound). It may be particularly beneficial for individuals who have not achieved adequate glycemic control or weight loss with other interventions.

What are some things people on Tirzepatide should consider?

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when on Tirzepatide:

  • Adhere to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity
  • Monitor blood glucose regularly (for diabetic patients)
  • Be aware of potential gastrointestinal side effects
  • Maintain adequate hydration

Are there any possibilities of misuse? Are there any safety hazards?

Off-label use in non-indicated populations, exceeding recommended doses, or use without proper medical supervision are primary concerns.

For the chronic management of weight, tirzepatide single dose vials are authorized in Egypt, the United States, and the European Union. The move was approved by the SEC, subject to the company conducting a Phase-4 clinical trial and providing the Chemistry Manufacturing and Controls data as required. Medication like Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and the rest of the line can lower blood sugar and decrease appetite. Despite not being promoted as a weight-loss medication, people nonetheless use it and disregard medical advice.

Source: NDTV Profit, Dr. Richa Chaturvedi, Senior Consultant, Endocrinologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.