An obesity medicine physician shares what you need to know
Big news! Zepbound is officially here. Its coupon went live on Wednesday, Nov 29, 2023 on Eli Lilly’s website, which means that pharmacies will soon be able to start ordering all doses of Zepbound.
This is great, because as an obesity medicine physician, I’ve found tirzepatide—the main ingredient in Zepbound—to be the most effective tool we have on the market for weight management.
This is also supported by the evidence. In trials, patients lost up to 25% of their total body weight on Zepbound, which rivals bariatric surgery numbers. For comparison, Wegovy, which is another highly effective and sought-after weight management drug, shows a 15% reduction in body weight.
Until now, the only way to get tirzepatide was by getting a prescription for Mounjaro. I’ve been prescribing Mounjaro in my patient population for months because it’s so effective. However, it’s very exciting to have 1) a coupon that makes tirzepatide more affordable, and 2) a wider FDA-approved indication for this drug under the brand name Zepbound.
@alexandrasowamd Zepbound is here! 🎉 Interested in learning more about the best in class weight management drug? Head to my bio for a free download to dig into the science, efficacy and side effect management of this amazing new tool. #zepboundcoupon #glp1 #obesitymedicine ♬ original sound - Alexandra Sowa, MD
What’s the Difference Between Zepbound and Mounjaro?
Mounjaro and Zepbound are technically the exact same drug (tirzepatide) in the exact same strength. So why two different names? It comes down to indicated uses for the drugs—and marketing.
Mounjaro is indicated to help people with type two diabetes lower A1C levels, while drug manufacturer Eli Lilly positions Zepbound as being for “adults with obesity or with excess weight and weight-related medical problems.”
The FDA has not approved Mounjaro for treating obesity, but it has approved Zepbound for this use. As an obesity medicine physician, I’ve been prescribing Mounjaro to my patients for months. It’s highly effective—so I’m glad to see that tirzepatide is being made more available for weight loss purposes.
Zepbound is to Mounjaro what Wegovy is to Ozempic, almost. Wegovy and Ozempic feature the exact same ingredient, semaglutide, but in different strengths, with Wegovy featuring higher amounts of semaglutide per dose than Ozempic. But Zepbound and Mounjaro are the exact same strength.
So for you as a user of these drugs, it means that you’ll get the same benefits from either Zepbound or Mounjaro, but it may be easier to get your hands on Zepbound if you do not have type 2 diabetes.
What Is Tirzepatide and How Does It Work?
Tirzepatide works by mimicking hormones called GLP-1 and GIP that target areas of the body involved in blood sugar and energy regulation. Tirzepatide’s three primary targets are:
- Brain - Tirzepatide directly targets areas of the brain involved in regulating appetite and food intake.
- Stomach - Tirzepatide also allows a minor delay in gastric (stomach) emptying, making you feel full longer and signaling for your body to decrease hunger hormones and increase fullness hormones.
- Pancreas - Tirzepatide lowers fasting and post-meal glucose (blood sugar) by stimulating appropriate insulin secretion, allowing your body to normalize its blood sugar and its relationship between food intake and fat storage.
Mounjaro and Zepbound are two different brand names for tirzepatide, both manufactured by Eli Lilly.
Tirzepatide combines both GLP-1 and GIP receptor agonists—meaning it mimics two hormones that aid in the above benefits instead of just mimicking GLP-1 agonists, which is what semaglutide (Ozempic/Wegovy) does.
Because of the dual-hormone action, tirzepatide is more effective than other options. There are other weight loss drugs being developed that plan to contain three agonists, but for now, Zepbound is the most effective option. And its very effective, rivaling the success rates of bariatric surgery.
How Do I Get Zepbound?
To get Zepbound, you’ll need a prescription from your doctor. There are tele-health doctors that specialize in weight loss, like me! You can apply to work with me here to get on the list for the next time my online practice opens up.
In general, your eligibility for weight loss medication, including Zepbound, depends on your current weight, in addition to any other health conditions. According to the FDA, doctors can write weight loss prescriptions for patients who:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater
- Or have a body mass index (BMI) of >27 in addition to an underlying metabolic health condition
Based on these parameters, you may not immediately qualify for Zepbound, but you can still get an evaluation from a board-certified obesity medicine doctor to see if you have an underlying metabolic condition that needs treatment.
How Much Does Zepbound Cost?
Once you get a prescription, getting insurance coverage is a whole other ballgame. These injectable drugs tend to be very expensive. At the time of writing, a month’s supply of Mounjaro costs about $1200. Insurers are evading covering these drugs as much as possible, which is very unfortunate because they help prevent many costly and life-threatening diseases.
Because Zepbound is brand new, the manufacturer is offering a coupon to incentivize use. Right now, Zepbound costs as low as $25 for a 1-3 month prescription with a savings card.
At the time of its launch, Zepbound costs hundreds of dollars for a monthly supply without insurance coverage. But Eli Lilly is set its list price at 20% less than the other current GLP-1 medication options. Eli Lilly’s CFO says that, “[Even] if Zepbound is not covered, a patient has access to a Lilly assistance program and may be eligible to pay $550 for a 1-month prescription, approximately 50% lower than the list price.”
It’s still quite the chunk of change, but $550 for a pen is is more affordable than the current alternatives, like Mounjaro, Wegovy, or Ozempic.
How Do I Use Zepbound?
I’m already getting questions like:
- Does the time of day that I take the medication matter (morning or night)?
- Is one day of the week better than another?
- Does the location of the injection matter?
- What, if any, common side effects can I expect?
I put everything about Zepbound in one convenient and free download. Click here to get all the answers about understanding and using Zepbound, and if its right for you.