Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has just released the latest data from a phase III trial of its experimental drug for type 2 diabetes and obesity, the tirzepatide. According to the results, some people lost up to 20% of their body weight in 72 weeks, much more than those in the placebo sample.
Obesity is a chronic disease that often does not receive the same level of care as other diseases. Its impact on physical, psychological and metabolic health is however very important. These include increased risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer or depression.
Today there are several approaches to combat obesity, but no miracle solution. Several pharmaceutical groups are nevertheless on the spot. This is particularly the case of Eli Lilly and Company, which has been looking for the right formula for several years. More recently, researchers in this laboratory have developed an experimental drug, tirzepatide , aimed at fighting type 2 diabetes and obesity.
After several already conclusive preliminary trials, the researchers recently closed a Phase III trial involving more than 2,500 patients overweight in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia and Taiwan. All of them also had a condition possibly related to their weight, with the exception of diabetes.
Tirzepatide works by increasing the levels of the hormones GLP-1 and GIP which play a crucial role in regulating our metabolism and hunger.
All of these patients received either a placebo or one of three different doses of tirzepatide. These were given weekly by injection under the skin for 72 weeks. In addition to treatment, each group was advised to follow a low-calorie diet and increase physical activity.
At the end of the trial, each group had lost weight on average. However, the loss was much greater in people in the tirzepatide groups. In detail, those who received a dose of five milligrams lost an average of 15% weight. Those who received a ten milligram dose lost 19.5%. Finally, those affected by the fifteen milligram dose lost 20.9% , which represents about twenty kilos. In comparison, people in the placebo group lost 3.1% of their body weight on average .
Adverse effects were otherwise generally mild to moderate. These included nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
The results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. They should therefore be taken with some caution. Even so, these figures are simply unprecedented for such a drug.
The company had already submitted tirzepatide for FDA approval as a diabetes treatment late last year. A decision on this indication is expected before the end of the second quarter. The pharmaceutical group will certainly submit its drug for approval as a treatment for obesity within a few months.