Zepbound, a new treatment from the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, recently received FDA approval. The injection treatment is to help those who struggle with chronic weight management, which includes obesity and weight-related medical issues.

Zepbound was long anticipated since the cost of other weight management pharmaceuticals are high and not covered by insurance. Having a new competitor may bring prices down.

How Zepbound Works

Have you ever tried to lose weight and found the more you work out, the more you eat? That is a normal bodily response to losing weight. Unfortunately, our bodies think they are helping us by sending signals to the brain saying we are hungry as the calories disappear. It’s in survival mode.

Dr. Leonard Glass, senior vice president of global medical affairs, Lilly diabetes and obesity, tells Lilly Investors, “Unfortunately, despite scientific evidence to the contrary, obesity is often seen as a lifestyle choice – something that people should manage themselves. For decades, diet and exercise have been a go-to, but it’s not uncommon for a person to have tried 20-30 times to lose weight with this approach. Research now shows that the body may respond to a calorie-deficit diet by increasing hunger and reducing feelings of fullness, making weight loss more difficult. Lilly is aiming to eliminate misperceptions about this disease and transform how it can be managed.”

One of the most common reasons for excessive weight gain is hormone imbalance. Zepbound works by activating two important hormone receptors, GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) and GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1). The activation reduces appetite, so there is less desire to eat, which in turn, means less food intake and a loss of weight and body fat.

America’s Obesity Crisis

Does America have an obesity crisis? Since 2 out of 5 adults and 1 in 5 children are obese, then yes, many consider the epidemic of abnormal fat accumulation in America a crisis. Obesity presents several health risks, including the following:

• Diabetes
• Breast cancer
• Colon cancer
• Coronary heart disease
• Stroke

Obesity can also lead to other issues that can negatively impact a life:
• Trouble breathing
• Loss of confidence and low self-esteem
• Snoring
• Back and joint pain
• Lowered physical activity
• Chronic fatigue
• Sweating more than normal
• Feelings of loneliness

Obesity is quite prevalent in America and may be due to sedentary lifestyles, large portions when eating, and readily available fast food in nearly every city and town. Drugs like Zepbound may help to deal with the dangers of obesity.

How To Use Zepbound

Zepbound is an injection that patients use at home once a week. The injection site is usually right under the skin in the abdomen, upper arm, or thigh. A doctor and patient will work together to decide which site is best for the patient. Thankfully, the drug comes ready to use and there’s no need to handle the needle or do any mixing at home. It’s straightforward and easy to use, with each pen delivering one dose. It’s recommended to take your Zepbound at the same time every day to help your body adjust and get on a schedule.

Also, changing the site regularly where you inject the medication is helpful to prevent bruising. Always read all the instructions that come with Zepbound before administering it, and follow your doctor’s instructions, too.

Missing a Dose

What happens if you miss a dose? There’s no need to panic. If a dose is missed, you take a dose as soon as you remember unless it’s been over four days since your previous doses. Zepbound needs at least three days between doses, so if it’s been over four, simply wait until your next dose is due.

How Long To Use Zepbound?

The question may arise: How long to take Zepbound? Should you stop once the appropriate weight is reached? The answer will be between the doctor and patient; however, one concern is that weight will return when the drug is stopped. Dr. Leana Wen, a professor of health policy and management at George Washington University says, “At the moment, the understanding is that (these medications) need to be taken for a lifetime. If they are stopped, much of the weight loss is reversed.,” per fox59. Still, your doctor will know how to best treat your weight management program.

This may seem extreme but it is important to remember, that a healthy lifestyle can be obtained without medication as well. Exercising regularly and being mindful of what you are eating should yield into results you are looking for.

The Dosing of Zepbound

Zepbound is available in six different strengths: 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, and 15 mg. As doctors work together with their patients, the desired dose of Zepbound is chosen using several factors, including how much weight loss is desired, the cause of obesity, and if diet and exercise will play a role in weight management.

Most often, the starting dose is 2.5 mg, once a week for four weeks. After that dosing may increase, stay the same, or completely sto0p, depending on the situation.

How Much Does Zepbound Cost?

Many medications have a reputation for being expensive, especially if insurance won’t cover the cost. Sadly, that’s the case with the weight management drug Zepbound. Most insurance companies don’t see it as a medical necessity, so they don’t cover the cost of $1,000 a month for patients.

Two factors may bring the cost down eventually and encourage insurance companies to take notice. First, as mentioned, the new competition between Zepbound and other glp-1’s may lower the cost of each drug as they compete for consumer loyalty.

Second, there are some studies out there showing that through the weight loss that earlier weight management drugs, doctors are seeing a reduction in heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular issues in their once-obese patients. It’s too early to know if Zepbound will see the same results. However, if it does, it will be beneficial for the patients who are paying for it.

Furthermore, Lilly is working on a commercial savings card program for patients who need Zepbound, offering discounts from $25 to $550 for one-month subscriptions. It’s important to Lilly that everyone have access to this essential new drug. Mike Mason, executive vice president and president, Lilly Diabetes and Obesity, tells Lilly Investors, “Far too many hurdles continue to prevent people living with obesity from accessing obesity treatments that could lead to significant weight loss. Broader access to these medicines is critical, which is why Lilly is committed to working with healthcare, government, and industry partners to ensure people who may benefit from Zepbound can access it.”

The Side Effects of Zepbound

It’s tough to find a pharmaceutical drug that has no side effects, and Zepbound is no exception. Though some side effects are mild, others are serious. Let’s look at the mild side effects first:

• Nausea
• Diarrhea
• Constipation
• Fatigue
• Vomiting
• Hair loss
• Abdominal pain
• Burping
• GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
• Indigestion
• Fast heart rate
• Low blood pressure
• Allergic reactions

The list of side effects for many pharmaceuticals can be frightening. Keep in mind these symptoms ae usually mild and often go away once your body adjusts to the drug. Still, always talk with your doctor about any changes in your health or body functions.

Now let’s look at more serious side effects that may occur when taking Zepbound:

  • Acute Gall Bladder Disease: Sudden gallbladder disease is often seen first in the form of gallstones, and symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and a fever.
  • Acute Pancreatitis: The symptoms of pancreatitis are abdominal and or back pain, nausea and vomiting, and a fever.
  • Digestive Issues: Digestive issues are common; however, if you are suddenly experiencing severe ones and are taking Zepbound, the digestive issues may be caused by the drug. Symptoms often include fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting. Swelling in the ankles and legs and urinating less often. Severe digestive issues are dangerous and can eventually lead to dehydration and kidney problems.
  • Low Blood Sugar: If you experience sweating, shakiness, and dizziness, it may be the side effect, low blood sugar.
  • Suicidal Thoughts and Unusual Behavior: Although these side effects weren’t seen in the clinical trials of Zepbound, it’s important to point out that they were found in the studies of drugs that are similar to it. Unusual behavior might be restlessness, irritation, and other mood changes. There may also be high anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
  • Thyroid Cancer: Thyroid cancer is suspected or screened for when there is a lump or swelling in the neck, shortness of breath, a hoarse throat that won’t heal, and trouble swallowing.
  • Allergic Reactions: Severe allergic reactions to Zepbound may include difficulty breathing and swallowing, and swelling in the face, throat, tongue, or lips. Allergic reactions might also be a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, itching, and a rash.

The Drug Interactions with Zepbound

It’s essential to tell your doctor every other medicine, drug, and supplement you take, whether prescription or OTC, so they can be aware if you are taking anything that might interfere with Zepbound and increase side effects or affect the medication.

There are many drugs that don’t interact well with Zepbound; however, two common categories that might not work as well when taking Zepbound are birth control pills and medicines used to treat diabetes.

Birth Control Pills

It’s been found that birth control pills may be less effective when taking Zepbound. However, don’t throw away your birth control. It’s recommended that patients use another or an additional form of birth control for four weeks after they begin the drug, then for four weeks again if starting a new dosage.

Diabetes Medication

There is a risk of hypoglycemia due to Zepbound lowering the effectiveness of insulin and sulfonylureas. Hypoglycemia can lead to serious health problems, such as slurred speech, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, and difficulty concentrating.

Other drugs with moderate interactions with Zepbound are as follows:

• Aripiprazole
• Levothyroxine

As time goes on and more studies are done, we may see other interactions as well.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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