If you’re here, my guess is that you have recently heard about the new Zepbound injection for weight loss approved by the FDA a few weeks ago, in November 2023. If you haven’t yet, it's time to pay attention, as this drug is rapidly becoming a buzzword in the world of weight management.
 
Offering a unique approach to fighting obesity and related health complications, Zepbound seems to be a gamechanger for effective and sustainable weight loss. In this article, we'll delve into everything you need to know about Zepbound
  • what it is exactly,
  • how it helps with weight loss,
  • how to use it,
  • what results you can expect,
  • what side effects you should watch out for,
  • how much it would cost you,
  • and more! 

Let’s start!
 
Traveling cooling cases for Zepbound
Keep your Zepbound injections cool with 4AllFamily's medical-grade travel coolers!

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What is Zepbound?

Ok, we have a lot of things to say about Zepbound. But let’s take them one by one and start with making sure we all understand what Zepbound is before diving into its results, uses, and more. In short, Zepbound is: 

  • The newest FDA-approved weight-loss drug and a potentially a real breakthrough in obesity treatment.
  • A brand name for Tirzepatide, a unique dual-action drug targeting two key hormone receptors.
  • Different from other weight-loss injections like Wegovy or Saxenda.

The newest FDA-approved weight-loss injection

Recently given the green light by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on November 8, 2023, Zepbound is an injectable prescription drug specially designed for adults who are battling obesity or who are overweight with health issues tied to their weight.
 
What really makes Zepbound stand out is that it’s the first of its kind – a dual-action drug that works on both GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) and GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) receptors. I will explain below, but basically, it means that Zepbound is tackling weight loss on two fronts for even better results.
 
The significance of Zepbound's FDA approval cannot be overstated. It provides a new, potent tool in the fight against obesity and its numerous health complications. But let’s see what’s in it exactly and how it helps with weight loss exactly.
 

Tirzepatide, the first dual GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonist drug

At the heart of Zepbound's effectiveness is tirzepatide, a molecule that has undergone extensive research and development in the recent years.
 
Tirzepatide is the first dual GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonist drug ever. Its scientific journey began with an understanding of how certain hormones in the body regulate appetite and insulin production. Tirzepatide works by mimicking the actions of both GIP and GLP-1, two hormones that are naturally involved in our metabolism. Yes, I know, that doesn’t sound English at all... but don’t worry, I’ll explain:
  • GIP stands for glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide. This hormone enhances insulin secretion and reduces glucagon release, keeping our blood sugar levels in check.
  • GLP-1 stands for glucagon-like peptide-1. This hormone decreases appetite and, consequently, food intake.
By activating both our receptors of GIP and GLP-1, tirzepatide effectively helps control blood sugar levels and reduces appetite, thereby facilitating weight loss. So, think of Zepbound as a master of disguise, tricking the body into thinking it has more of these hormones than it actually does. This means you feel less hungry, and your body gets better at handling sugar – a double win for weight loss!
 
This dual-action mechanism is a key distinguishing feature of tirzepatide, setting it apart from other weight-loss drugsthat may target only one of these two hormones and only a single aspect of metabolic regulation.
 

Zepbound vs. Mounjaro

Mounjaro is another injection you’ve probably heard about. It’s made by the same company as Zepbound (Eli Lilly and Company) and was approved by the FDA in May 2022. And guess, what: it contains the same ingredient as Zepbound, that is, Tirzepatide.
 
So, why are there two different drugs, from the same company, and with the same ingredient? Well, the answer lies in the distinct FDA approvals, intended use, and doses. 
 
Mounjaro is only approved for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, capitalizing on tirzepatide's ability to control blood sugar levels, and benefiting its weight-loss properties as a side effect. Zepbound, on the other hand, has received approval specifically for weight loss.
 
This distinction actually reflects the versatile nature of tirzepatide and underscores the importance of using these medications under medical supervision, ensuring they are applied appropriately to their respective conditions.
 

Who is eligible for Zepbound?

Not even a month after its approval, Zepbound is already a highly sought-after weight-loss treatment, bringing hope to many who’ve been struggling with obesity or overweight without much success from other drugs.
 
But Zepbound isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a potent drug that must be taken under strict medical supervision and should only be prescribed to certain groups as defined by the FDA approval.
 
First, Zepbound is approved for chronic weight management in adults only. No kids. Then, there are a few criteria to be eligible for a Zepbound prescription:
  • Adults with obesity with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m² or higher, or
  • Overweight adults with weight-related health issues: Zepbound is also approved for adults who are overweight (BMI of 27 kg/m² or higher) and who have at least one weight-related condition such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, or dyslipidemia.
Besides, you should be aware that Zepbound is not intended for cosmetic weight loss or for those looking to shed a few pounds for aesthetic reasons. Its approval is geared towards people for whom weight loss is medically necessary to improve their health.
 
Last, and quite obviously, your eligibility for Zepbound should be determined by a healthcare professional. It requires a medical prescription and should be used under ongoing medical supervision to monitor its effectiveness and any potential side effects.
 

How Does Zepbound Help with Weight-Loss?

When it comes to understanding how Zepbound can help you shed those extra pounds, it all comes down to its various mechanisms of action. It's not just about suppressing hunger or burning fat; Zepbound operates on a more complex level of hormonal interaction and regulation, which I will try to explain in an easy-to-understand way below:
 

Reduced appetite and food intake 

As mentioned above, Tirzepatide, the active ingredient in Zepbound, is a GLP-1 receptor agonist drug. GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) is a hormone that reduces appetite and food intake. And this is where Zepbound really shines in the weight loss department.
 
By mimicking this hormone, Zepbound makes you feel fuller for longer periods, reducing the overall caloric intake. Additionally, GLP-1 is also known to slow down gastric emptying, meaning the food stays in your stomach longer, which helps in controlling hunger pangs and reducing snacking, contributing efficiently to your weight-loss journey.
 

Reduced fat storage and boosted metabolism

Now, remember, Tirzepatide is a dual drug, besides activating GLP-1 receptors, it’s also a GIP receptor agonist drug. GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) is a hormone involved in insulin secretion.
 
So, when Zepbound activates GIP receptors, it enhances the body's ability to produce insulin in response to high blood sugar levels. This not only aids in better blood sugar control but also indirectly affects weight, as improved insulin sensitivity is linked to reduced fat storage and better energy utilization.
 

Bonus: the synergistic effect on weight loss

And, as a bonus, the dual activation of the GIP and GLP-1 receptors by Zepbound leads to a synergistic effect. Not only is your appetite reduced, but your body is also getting better at managing the sugar it absorbs and stores, while your metabolic function improves.
 
In other words, Zepbound addresses weight loss from multiple angles. It's not just about eating less; it's about how your body handles what you eat and the hormonal signals that regulate hunger and satiety. It’s like entering a virtuous circle and this two-pronged approach is what makes Zepbound such a powerful and unique tool in weight management.
 

Efficacy and Clinical Trials 

Now, the answer to the question we’ve all been waiting for: how much weight can you lose with Zepbound? Of course, there’s not a one-fit-all universal answer here, as everyone reacts differently to all medications.
 
The results you can expect when taking Zepbound don’t depend on the drug only, but rather on a multitude of individual factors, such as your initial weight, your adherence to the treatment, your body’s response, and your lifestyle and diet, to name just a few.
 
However, to give you an idea of how much weight one can lose with Zepbound injections, below are results of clinical trials conducted on Zepbound.
 

Losing weight and maintaining it 

First, let’s insist on a remarkable fact: unlike many weight-loss treatments, Zepbound has shown promising results in helping adults with obesity or those overweight with weight-related issues to not only lose weight but also maintain it.
 
This was proven in two large studies, involving a total of nearly 3,500 participants, where Zepbound was tested alongside a diet with fewer calories and more physical activity. Participants were either given Zepbound at varying doses (5 mg, 10 mg, or 15 mg) or a placebo, once a week for 72 weeks.
 
In these studies, everyone who took Zepbound, regardless of the dose, saw a significant drop in their weight compared to those who received a placebo. In fact, more people taking Zepbound lost at least 5% of their body weight than those who didn't take it.
 
One of the studies focused on adults without diabetes. The participants, on average, weighed 231 pounds (105 kg) and had a BMI of 38 kg/m² at the beginning. By the end of the study, those who took the highest dose of Zepbound (15 mg weekly) saw an average weight loss of 18%.
 
The other study included adults with type 2 diabetes. These participants started the trial weighing, on average, 222 pounds (101 kg) with a BMI of 36 kg/m². In this group, those who received the highest Zepbound dose lost about 12% of their body weight on average, compared to those who were given a placebo.
 
According to Eli and Lilly website, the manufacturer of Zepbound, “1 in 3 people taking the 15-mg dose of Zepbound lost over 58 lbs”.
 
Related article: Wegovy vs. Saxenda: Comparing Two Weight-Loss Injections.
 

How to Use Zepbound?

Remember that Zepbound should be used strictly under medical prescription and supervision. If you doctor decides that Zepbound is a good fit for your weight-loss journey, they will show you in detail how to inject your new drug and give you instructions regarding its handling at home.
 
Meanwhile, here’s a basic guideline on how to use Zepbound (but keep in mind that it is not meant to substitute your doctor’s advice!).
 
Related article: How to Inject Mounjaro and Use the Pen Injector Correctly?
 

Subcutaneous injections 

Zepbound is administered through subcutaneous injections, which means it is injected into the fatty tissue just beneath the skin. Common injection sites include the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm.
 
It comes in a pre-filled, single-dose, and easy-to-use injection pen, designed to make the injection process as straightforward and painless as possible.
 
Zepbound is usually injected once a week. It’s currently available in 6 different doses (2,5 mg, 5 mg, 7,5 mg, 10 mg, 12,5 mg, and 15 mg). The dose generally starts at the lower level and gradually increase, as recommended by your doctor.  
 

Combined with diet and exercise 

While Zepbound shows great results for weight loss, it must be used alongside with a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise for optimal results.
 
Your doctor will most probably recommend a diet low in calories but rich in nutrients. Focus on whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables while trying to reduce processed foods, sugary drinks, and high-fat items.
 
As for physical exercise, the ideal is to aim for a mix of aerobic exercises, like walking or swimming, and strength training. A typical recommendation is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, along with muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week.
 
Of course, these dietary and physical exercise recommendations must be adapted to your current lifestyle and levels. A dietitian can help you tailor a diet and exercise plan that would work best for you. Regular check-ins can help adjust the Zepbound treatment plan based on your progress.
 

Zepbound storage requirements 

One more thing that’s very important to know if you’ve been prescribed Zepbound: its storage instructions. Tirzepatide, the active ingredient, is a biological drug very sensitive to heat and light exposure.
 
To ensure its effectiveness and safe use, the manufacturer recommends your store your Zepbound injector pens as follows:
  • Zepbound pens should be stored in a refrigerator at 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F).
  • Avoid freezing the pens. If a pen has frozen, it’s not safe for use anymore, even if it has thawed afterwards.
  • Keep Zepbound away from direct light.
  • Before each use, allow the pen to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This makes the injection more comfortable than when injecting cold medicine from the fridge.
  • Once a pen is in use, it must be kept at room temperature (up to 30°C or 86°F) but should be used within 21 days maximum.
  • Do not put Zepbound back in the fridge once it has reached room temperature.
  • Discard any Zepbound pen that has been out of the fridge for more than 21 days.
When traveling with Zepbound, make sure to use a medical-grade travel cooling case, like the ones from 4AllFamily which can refrigerate your injections from a few hours to several days of travel, even without electricity.
 
Zepbound travel coolers
 
And remember, failure to follow proper storage instructions can deteriorate your medicine, lower your treatment´s efficiency, and be unsafe for your health.
 

Side Effects and Precautions 

If you’re considering Zepbound for your obesity treatment or as part of your weight management plan, you must be aware of its potential side effects too. Like with any drugs, the benefits vs. risks ratio should be evaluated with the help of your doctor.
 
Zepbound has been approved by the FDA so, if taken within its official use and used as instructed, it is considered a safe drug. However, all drugs come with possible side effects and knowing these can help prevent complications. 
 

Zepbound’s side effects 

Though not everyone will experience them, common side effects that can occur while taking Zepbound include:
  • Gastrointestinal issues, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain. These symptoms are often most pronounced when starting the treatment and may decrease over time.
  • Injection site reactions, like redness, swelling, or pain. Rotating the injection site can help minimize these reactions.
  • Fatigue, feelings of tiredness, or weakness may occur too.
  • Headache, especially in the initial stages of treatment.
  • Allergic reactions
  • Belching
  • Hair loss
  • Heartburn
Besides, Zepbound may also cause serious side effects, although more rarely, including:
  • Severe stomach problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Serious allergic reactions
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Changes in vision
  • Depression or thoughts of suicide
The list of side effects caused by Zepbound isn’t exhaustive and keep in mind that, although it’s been clinically tested, Tirzepatide is still a relatively new medicine. So, if you feel any discomfort, unusual symptoms, or if something just doesn't feel right while using Zepbound, talk to your doctor immediately.
 

Contraindications

Zepbound is not suitable for everyone, and there are specific situations where its use is contraindicated:
Additionally, the effects of Zepbound on pregnancy and breastfeeding are not well known yet, so it’s best to avoid its use during these periods. And Zepbound is not approved for children, so it should not be used in pediatric patients.
 

How Much Does Zepbound Cost? 

The cost of Zepbound varies depending on where you purchase it, as well as on your health insurance coverage or possible discounts. Here's a breakdown of the pricing information I could gather online:
  • Zepbound has a list price of $1,059.87. It’s the price set by Eli Lilly, the manufacturing company. It’s about 20% cheaper than comparable treatments for weight loss like Wegovy.
  • At some popular retailers like Walmart and Walgreens, the retail price for Zepbound is around $1,272, but discounts can bring this down to approximately $1,100.
  • With a GoodRx coupon, you can find Zepbound for around $1,058.65.
  • You may be eligible for Eli Lilly’s Zepbound Savings Card.
As of today unfortunately, Medicare and Medicaid do not cover Zepbound. If you have a private health insurance provider, ask them about their coverage for such weight-loss medication.
 
And that’s it for our complete guide about Zepbound, but we’ll keep writing about this new medication in future articles, so stay tuned!
 
We would love to hear from you if you've already tried Zepbound or if you have any questions about this new weight-loss injection. So, feel free to share and ask in the comments below!
December 13, 2023

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