Zepbound Overview: A Quick Guide to a Novel Weight Loss Drug

Zepbound, FDA-approved in November 2023, is a weight loss medication containing tirzepatide. It mimics GLP-1 hormone receptors and activates GIP receptors for dual action. Consult healthcare providers like MD Exam for personalized plans and affordable options


  • Monday, April 8, 2024

Zepbound (tirzepatide) is a medication developed by Eli Lilly and initially approved for medical use in the United states in November of 2023. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an adjunct to diet and exercise for chronic weight management in adults with obesity. Zepbound contains the same active ingredient as Mounjaro, but is approved for treatment of obesity rather than diabetes.

Like other popular medications Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus, Zepbound works by mimicking GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) hormone receptors, receptors in the gut responsible for feelings of fullness. Unlike these other medications, however, Zepbound is a dual-acting medication, so it also activates GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) receptors. This dual-action is what truly sets Zepbound apart from the competition, and is part of the reason it is so much more effective than traditional options.

Dosage and How to Use

Much like any other medication, when it comes to Zepbound, doctors prescribe different dosages depending on what they’re treating and who they’re treating. Dosages can vary, but a typical starting dose for the purpose of weight loss is 2.5mg weekly, injected under the skin. The medication comes in a pre-filled pen to make it easy to inject, but it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions closely to get the best results.

The Research

There have been a number of studies exploring the effectiveness and safety of tirzepatide, chiefly the SURMOUNT trials, a series of clinical trials funded by Eli Lilly and used in the approval process of Zepbound by the FDA. Most of the information on the Zepbound label came from data collected during these trials.

The SURMOUNT 1 trial consisted of 2539 adults with a BMI of 30+ or 27+ with another weight related complication. Individuals with diabetes were excluded and participants were treated for 72 weeks at 4 different doses, including placebo. The SURMOUNT 1 trial found the average person lost 20.9% of their bodyweight on the highest dose over 72 weeks of treatment. The SURMOUNT 2 trial, which only included diabetic individuals, found the average person lost 14.7% of their body weight at the highest dose over 72 weeks of treatment.

The most frequently reported side effects were related to the gastrointestinal system, which is in line with other medications that target the GLP receptor, such as Ozempic and Wegovy. These side effects were mostly mild to moderate in intensity and occurred mainly when the dose was increased. Treatment discontinuation due to adverse events was observed in 4.3%, 7.1%, 6.2%, and 2.6% of participants receiving tirzepatide doses of 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, and placebo, respectively. Overall, between 78.9% and 81.8% of participants treated with tirzepatide reported experiencing at least one adverse event during the treatment period, compared to 72.0% of participants in the placebo group.

Common Side Effects

The most common observed side effects at the medium dose (10mg) are listed below. Note this is not a complete list of all side effects.

  • Nausea - 33.3%
  • Diarrhea - 21.2%
  • Constipation - 11.7%
  • Dyspepsia (indigestion) - 9.7%
  • Vomiting - 10.7%
  • Headache - 6.8%
  • Abdominal pain - 5.3%

It is worth noting that 15.4% of participants also contracted COVID during the course of the study, which could have had an affect on other side effect reports. Most of the side effects were mild in nature and subsided over time. 6% of participants reported serious side effects, but there were similar percentages of serious events in the tirzepatide and placebo groups.

Getting Started with Zepbound

Before jumping into using Zepbound for weight loss, it's crucial to talk to your healthcare provider – maybe even at a place like MD Exam! We have a simple questionnaire where you share your medical history and we set you up with a personalized weight loss plan. We believe deeply in accessibility, which is why we offer medications at as little as $300 a month. Semaglutide and tirzepatide have seen the most success with the fewest side effects, so the medical team at MD Exam prefers these treatments over less effective options, but we are dedicated to finding the right option for every individual. Most patients of MD Exam start with semaglutide, only switching to tirzepatide if they want more weight loss and afford a more expensive treatment. Healthcare professionals, like the MD Exam team, play a big role in understanding overall health, creating personalized treatment plans, and explaining the possible risks and benefits. Feel free to check us out here

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