The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Eli Lilly's drug tirzepatide Wednesday for the treatment of obesity.
The injection, which will be sold under the brand name Zepbound, was approved specifically for adults with obesity or those who are overweight and also deal with weight-related medical issues such as hypertension, dyslipidemia or Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Shares of Eli Lilly and Co. rose during trading Wednesday following the news.
Tirzepatide was previously approved to treat Type 2 diabetes and was sold under the brand name Mounjaro. However, given its weight loss effects, Mounjaro was also being used "off label" to treat obesity.
The drug is seen as a game changer for combating obesity and even more powerful than Wegovy after certain participants in a recent study lost a quarter of their body weight on the drug.
In the late-stage study, adults who were overweight or obese and had a weight-related medical problem not including diabetes and took the drug at its highest dose lost an average of 48 pounds compared to the placebo, the company said. About one in three people lost over 58 pounds, or 25% of their body weight, compared to the 1.5% people lost while using the placebo.
At the lowest dose, participants lost an average of 34 pounds, Lilly said.
The drug will effectively expand access to the growing list of weight loss drugs that have surged in popularity. For instance, it joins Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Ozempic, both of which are brand names for the drug semaglutide.
Wegovy was approved in 2021 for chronic weight management in adults who are obese or overweight and have at least one weight-related condition.
Ozempic was approved by federal health officials in 2017 and marketed for medical use in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes "with weight loss as a secondary effect of the drug’s effects and mechanism of action."
"Far too many hurdles continue to prevent people living with obesity from accessing obesity treatments that could lead to significant weight loss," Lilly Diabetes and Obesity President Mike Mason said, adding that "broader access to these medicines is critical."
The company says it is committed to working with health care, government and industry partners to ensure people who may benefit from the drug can get their hands on it.
Patients are instructed to use the drug alongside a good diet and exercise. The injection should not be used with any other products that contain tirzepatide or any GLP-1 receptor agonist medicines like Ozempic.