Zepbound’s approval was based on trials run by Eli Lilly that included 2,539 adults with obesity or excess weight and weight-related medical problems other than diabetes, according to the company. In those studies, people taking Zepbound who also made diet and exercise changes experienced substantial weight loss at 72 weeks compared with those on a placebo. At the highest dose of 15 milligrams, people taking Zepbound lost an average of 48 pounds. At the lowest dose of 5 milligrams, people lost an average of 34. Those taking a placebo lost seven pounds, on average.
One in three patients taking Zepbound at the highest dose lost over 58 pounds, or 25 percent of their body weight, compared to 1.5 percent on placebo, according to Eli Lilly. The average starting weight of the volunteers in the trial was 231 pounds.
Some people taking Zepbound reported gastrointestinal reactions, including nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, or abdominal pain, according to the company.
In a statement, Eli Lilly representatives wrote that Zepbound is expected to be available in the US by the end of the year at a list price of $1,059.87 per month. Wegovy costs about $1,349 a month without insurance. Though insurance typically covers the cost of diabetes treatments, it may not cover drugs for weight management. Eli Lilly’s announcement says the company is putting a commercial savings card program in place to help people who may benefit from Zepbound access it.
Drugmakers are already working on pill versions of GLP-1 drugs, which could make them even more attractive to patients. And with new data expected to be unveiled at this weekend’s American Heart Association meeting on the cardiovascular benefits of these drugs, demand could surge even more.