Let’s take a closer look at Mounjaro, the latest innovative type 2 diabetes treatment making waves in the medical community.
Not only has Mounjaro shown great promise in diabetes management, but it's also soon to gain FDA approval as a weight loss drug.
The dual action of this ground-breaking medication holds exciting possibilities for the future of health care.
So let’s understand how Mounjaro works exactly: how does it help lower blood sugar levels and lose weight at the same time?
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What is Mounjaro?
Mounjaro is a weekly, self-administered injectable medication intended for people with diabetes.
It's the latest diabetes injection approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May 2022. Its active ingredient, Tirzepatide, provides a unique dual-targeted treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Tirzepatide helps lower blood glucose levels to prevent diabetes-related severe health complications. Besides its primarily intended effects, studies and clinical trials have shown that Mounjaro is also an efficient weight-loss therapy. While the FDA has only approved its use for diabetes, the drug is currently under process for approval as a weight loss treatment.
Mounjaro injections can be used as a standalone treatment for type 2 diabetes, but they must be paired with regular physical activity and a balanced diet. Alternatively, Mounjaro can also be used in combination with other diabetes medications, such as metformin or insulin.
Like any medication, Mounjaro may cause common side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, decreased appetite, vomiting, constipation, stomach pain, hypoglycemia, or more severe ones, like pancreatitis or kidney failure. It can only be delivered with a medical prescription and should never be used without medical supervision.
How is Mounjaro administered?
Mounjaro is administered once a week on the same day every week. It’s a subcutaneous injection (just under the skin) applied via a user-friendly, single-use autoinjector pen. It's the patients' responsibility to self-administer the medication at their homes.
Mounjaro injector pens come in six strengths (2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, and 15 mg). The most appropriate dosage for a patient is solely determined by their doctor. However, the typical dosing schedule starts with 2.5 mg injections, which increased to 5 mg after 4 weeks. Dosage may be further increased depending on how you respond to Tirzepatide and according to your doctor's prescription.
The pens are supplied in four-unit boxes, corresponding to a one-month supply (four weeks). Designed with ease of use in mind, the Mounjaro injector pen is ready for immediate use and does not require any mixing of medication. Plus, there's no need for patients to handle or even see the needle, adding to its convenience.
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How Does Mounjaro Work?
The working principle of Mounjaro revolves around Tirzepatide, its active constituent. This medication belongs to a specific group of drugs known as GIP/GLP-1 receptor agonists.
Essentially, Tirzepatide acts by concurrently triggering two critical hormones that manage insulin production: the glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).
In more understandable terms, Mounjaro enhances insulin release while simultaneously lessening glucagon production.
Doing so, it effectively helps decrease high blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, thereby significantly reducing the possibility of severe health conditions that diabetes can lead to, including heart and kidney diseases, loss of vision, and neuropathy.
What sets Mounjaro apart from other injectable medications for type 2 diabetes like Ozempic, Trulicity, Byetta, or Victoza is that it works on both GIP and GLP-1 receptors, while the latter only target GLP-1 receptors.
Related article: Mounjaro vs. Ozempic: A Comparison in Diabetes and Weight Loss Therapies.
How does it work for weight loss?
As you may have heard, Mounjaro is showing great promise as a weight loss drug.
Indeed, research indicates that individuals who use Mounjaro for managing diabetes often experience considerable weight reduction, with an average loss of 22.5% of body fat.
Nevertheless, Mounjaro's approval by the FDA is currently only for type 2 diabetes, not as a weight loss medication. The drug is, however, undergoing further scrutiny and clinical trials in the hopes of receiving future approval as a new weight loss medication. In the interim, many doctors across the U.S. are prescribing Mounjaro off-label to assist their patients with weight loss.
Besides its effects on blood sugar, Tirzepatide is known to slow down the process of food absorption, prolong the feeling of fullness, and increase the body's energy usage, all contributing to weight loss.
Related article: Mounjaro vs. Wegovy: Understanding the Differences in Diabetes and Obesity Treatments.
How Long Does Mounjaro Take to Start Working?
How long it takes for Mounjaro to work depends on many individual factors, including your general health condition, your average blood sugar level (A1c), how well your body responds to the drug and others.
While some patients experience noticeable blood glucose levels and weight loss results within the first weeks, others may have to wait a little longer until they see changes.
Every patient must start Mounjaro treatment with the lowest dosage and gradually increase it if needed. This allows the body to adapt to the drug while minimizing the likelihood of side effects and treatment discontinuation that could occur from taking larger doses too abruptly.
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For blood sugar
According to Eli Lilly and Company, the manufacturer of Mounjaro, results from clinical trials showed that Mounjaro was more effective and quicker to help lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetic patients than other diabetes injections like semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy) and insulin degludec:
- Median time to achieve A1C <7%: 8 weeks (Mounjaro), 12 weeks (injectable semaglutide 1 mg), 12 weeks (titrated insulin degludec).
- Median time to achieve A1C ≤6.5%: 12 weeks (Mounjaro), 16 weeks (injectable semaglutide 1 mg), 24 weeks (titrated insulin degludec).
The average hemoglobin A1c (a key blood sugar control indicator) decreased by 2.11% in diabetes patients taking the maximum dose of Mounjaro for the long term.
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For weight loss
In terms of weight loss, certain patients experience a noticeable decrease in appetite immediately, whereas others require larger doses and a few more weeks to lose the first pound.
Research indicates that by the 24th week, patients on the higher Mounjaro doses (10 mg and 15 mg) had, on average, lost nearly 15% of their initial body weight.
Results from Eli Lilly clinical trials showed that the median time to achieve 5% weight reduction was 15 weeks with Mounjaro 10 mg and Mounjaro 15 mg, compared to 24 weeks with semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy).
However, keep in mind that individual factors like diet, physical activity, age, hormonal health, other medications, or treatments can significantly impact the pace at which one can lose weight with Mounjaro.
Mounjaro is intended to be a long-term medication. Do not expect results to come immediately. Stick to your dosing schedule and inform your doctor if you’re worried about its efficacy. Never stop your medical treatment without your doctor’s advice.
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If you've been prescribed Mounjaro, we'd love to hear from you! Your insights and experiences with this new medication could greatly benefit others. Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts on this novel drug.