A New and Improved Diabetes Drug

Doctor Administering Vaccine Injection

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects the way the body regulates and uses glucose as fuel. 

Tirzepatide, a new diabetes drug administered weekly through injection, helped those with type 2 diabetes meet blood glucose goals 4 to 12 weeks earlier than those receiving conventional diabetic drugs.

The phase 3 SURPASS trials, which were published in 2021, proved that tirzepatide reduces blood sugar and promotes weight reduction better than other type 2 diabetes (T2D) drugs. Now, a new study evaluating the time required to achieve blood glucose goals shows that tirzepatide meets blood sugar control and weight reduction goals quicker than existing diabetes drugs.

The latest analyses of the SURPASS-2 and SURPASS-3 trials, which were presented at 2022’s European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, discovered that adults treated with various doses of injectable tirzepatide (5, 10, and 15 mg) reached blood glucose targets about four weeks sooner than those treated with injectable semaglutide (1 mg), and between four and 12 weeks sooner than those treated with once-daily insulin (degludec; iDeg), along with diet and exercise and oral glucose-lowering medications.

“Tirzepatide is unique because it mimics two natural insulin-releasing and appetite-suppressing hormones in one injection”, says lead author Dr. Adie Viljoen, a Consultant Metabolic Physician and Chemical Pathologist from the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, UK.“The speed we are seeing in glucose-lowering and weight loss is beyond anything else we have available right now and it may put adults with type 2 diabetes in a better position for preventing long-term complications. But it is important to remember that these medications should be used in addition to diet and exercise.”

T2D is a chronic and progressive disorder in which the body does not produce or use insulin normally, resulting in high blood glucose levels. Despite the availability of several drugs to treat diabetes, only about half of US adults with T2D achieve a target hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c; a measure of blood sugar control) of less than 7%. Higher HbA1c levels are linked to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease (nephropathy), eye disease (retinopathy), and nerve disease (neuropathy).

Tirzepatide is a single molecule that belongs to a new class of diabetes drugs that mimics two hormones, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), involved in blood sugar control and appetite suppression. It was approved for the treatment of T2D by the US Food and Drug Administration in May 2022.

The SURPASS-2 and SURPASS-3 trials compared different doses of tirzepatide (5, 10, and 15 mg) with a once-weekly injectable semaglutide 1 mg (which is a single hormone, GLP-1 mimic agent) as an add-on therapy to metformin, or long-acting insulin (iDeg), as an add-on therapy to metformin with or without a sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitor, respectively [3].

On average, participants treated with all doses of tirzepatide lowered their HbA1c more than those treated with semaglutide and iDeg, and a greater proportion achieved an HbA1c of less than 7% (<53 mmol/mol), less than or equal to 6.5% (≤48 mmol/mol), and less than 5.7% (<39 mmol/mol) at 40-weeks (SURPASS-2) and 52-weeks (SURPASS-3), respectively.

In this latest analysis comparing the time to reach HbA1c targets from the start of the study, researchers found that participants taking tirzepatide reached HbA1c targets of less than 7% and 6.5% or less considerably faster than both semaglutide and iDeg (see table in notes to editors).

The average (median) time to achieve an HbA1c level of less than 7% was around 8 weeks for all tirzepatide doses compared to 12 weeks for both semaglutide and iDeg; to reach 6.5% or less was 12 weeks versus about 16 weeks and 24 weeks, respectively.

Further analyses of SURPASS-2, found that participants treated with tirzepatide also reached weight-loss goals significantly faster than semaglutide. The average time to reach 5% or more weight loss was around 12 weeks on the two higher doses of tirzepatide (10 and 15 mg) compared to 24 weeks for semaglutide (see table in notes to editors).

“Even a modest weight loss of 5% of initial body weight is associated with clinically significant improvements in weight-related health issues for many individuals,” says Viljoen. “For people with type 2 diabetes to be able to achieve these improvements in health in around half the time is pretty incredible.”

Mild to moderate gastrointestinal adverse events such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea were noted in participants taking tirzepatide and were most frequently reported during the dose escalation period and decreased over time.

The authors acknowledge several limitations of the study, including that the studies were not specifically designed to compare the rate of glycaemic control and weight loss and therefore these analyses should be interpreted with caution.

Reference: This article is based on abstract 591 of The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD). All accepted abstracts have been extensively peer-reviewed by the congress selection committee.

This study was funded by Eli Lilly and Company. The authors have received grants from Sanofi and lecture/other fees from Novartis, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Napp. Non-financial support has also been provided by Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and AstraZeneca.

44 Comments on "A New and Improved Diabetes Drug"

  1. I cant wait to get on this med and then have it not covered by insurance because it’s a weight loss drug. Just like they did with ozempic.

  2. L.Claude Heeraman | November 6, 2022 at 1:10 pm | Reply

    Can you please tell me is it available in Australia and TGA approved.

  3. Charmaine Barnardt | November 6, 2022 at 1:27 pm | Reply

    Good day
    Pls couldbyou let me kjow under which name this injection is available in South Africa and the price
    Thank you

  4. I was on ozempic and jardiance. I had to get off both of them because I lost so much weight. I probably lost it from the diarrhea that I suffered for almost a year. My endocrinologist told me that it was not one of the side effects. As soon as I went off the medications the diarrhea stopped. Have not had any diarrhea in 18 months.

  5. I’m really hoping this drug is only for diabetics as I cannot get my other medications and I am really suffering my sugars were really high until I started on ozempic .
    Ozempic brought my sugar levils down by half. And now I cannot get into my sugars are going back up and I really am suffering again I don’t eat or use any sugars but it does not work..

  6. Is it and when is it going to be available in the usa

    • It is available in the US and was approved by the FDA in May, 2022. If you go through Good Rx, they have information on how to afford the medication. I was looking the information up for my own feasibility and thought I’d pass on what I learned.

  7. Does it cause cancer like ozempic and trulicity. I’m a Type 1.5 diabetic; an actual type, only 5% of the population has it (autoimmune attacked my beta cells and I have severe insulin resistance) my doctor put me on those drugs I listed and I had every side effect listed. Really painful couldn’t go to the bathroom ever, food wouldn’t digest, and I was constantly regurgitating like a cow. My A1C was already 6.5 and they did it solely for weight loss. Then I read up on the side effects and found I was getting all the severe ones and it caused cancer. The reddit rabbit hole was fun too few posters wrote how they got cancer and had their thyroids removed (though most had a great experience).

    • Hi Andre – the risk for thyroid cancer is very small. However, it is a risk. If you have a family history of thyroid cancer, I would avoid the drug. Otherwise, GLP-1 agonists are very safe and effective. Re: other gastrointestinal side effects, these are very common and should subside as you continue use.

  8. Is there still a trial? I would like to be in it

  9. Joseph Shepherd | November 7, 2022 at 4:13 am | Reply

    Will this be available in England and if so when.

  10. Mounjaro is brand name in USA. It’s marketing is weight-loss not T2D according to folks I have talked with. That means IT’S only PART OF TREATMENT NOT one and done FIX-ALL. Manufacturer’s coupons are available to help lower co-pay UNLESS patients have Tricare,Medicare or Medicaid. They are NOT eligible as stated on voucher. Drug availability varies by area and demand. PLEASE PLEASE learn more ie.. duration of use,side effects of both starting AND stopping, drug interactions and if weight will return. Also have proper training BEFORE leaving provider office on self injections.

  11. I’m currently on Ozempic and Metphormine. My levels are good. The diarrhea side effect is real and so is the weight loss.

  12. I was taking Ozempic with good results. Then I entered the “donut hole” with my insurance and the cost went from $47 to $321 for 28(maybe) days worth. Will this drug be affordable?

  13. Can this drug be taken without also using metformin? My body does not tolerate metformin very well. I’m hoping it will be covered under my medicare prescription coverage. Ozympic worked wonders but I can no longer afford it as I am not rich or dirt poor.

  14. No thank you. Unless I get really desperate I won’t try anything new. I don’t trust the FDA or big pharma crap. Just wait, 10 years from now there will be a law suit stating ppl who used this has a good case.

  15. Would like more information on this drug please. Is it likely to be in Australia anytime.

  16. Wilhelmina Radebe | November 7, 2022 at 8:30 am | Reply

    Is this drug available in South Africa. Would like to have more information on this drug

  17. Kathleen martin | November 7, 2022 at 9:25 am | Reply

    When will this be available in the uk

  18. What good is all these great meds when the cost is prohibitive? They are so expensive . I need to bring my sugar numbers down as well as my weight and Medicare doesn’t cover these much needed drugs!

  19. im with cathy s. on this one…used to help blood sugars buy gv me the s***s. as soon as I stopped it, no more diarrhea. everybody thinks it’s good for weight loss and that’s basically what you’re doing sh*tting away your weight. just saying🤷🏾‍♀️

  20. I got on Monjuro for type two diabetes, I was in it for two months and it was going very well…. Until my insurance wouldn’t cover it at all.

    I could not get the drug, despite 8 weeks of use already, and am now in limbo on being able to use it at all. Thanks to my employer buying bcbs…. To save a buck.

    Great drug, very effective, but don’t be fooled, it’s about $1300 a month, for 4 injections, and the insurance companies are making your healthcare decisions for you, and they will deny you in a whim, all but blocking you from your prescribed healthcare for profit.

  21. Marceile Redmon | November 7, 2022 at 1:38 pm | Reply

    Try toujeo. Farxiga made me ill. Bydureon Didnt help and victoza wasnt covered.

  22. I too reaĺly hope that this drug is only for type 2 diabetes as I have not been able to get ozempic for months here in Australia due to so many people taking it for weight loss and now I am suffering with high blood sugars which had come down nicely on ozempic. And it is not going to be available until March next year. Makes me so angry that some doctors and patients abused ozempic and has made it hard for all thise who need it for their diabetes.

  23. Any idea when &/or if this new super drug, tirzepatide will be approved in Canada? Here in the province of BC, we are still waiting on Wegovy to be approved, it’s in the major cities, but not yet available in the smaller towns, the superior semaglutide to Ozempic. Ozempic is available for diabetics, with a Rx. Not so much for people who want to lose weight, and not have gastric bypass surgery, which can be a very long wait, up to 3 years. Even tho they say it’s approved for weight loss here in Canada. There’s a definite shortage of supply & demand for it, it costs an average of $250-$500 per month if you can’t get coverage on BC medical for it. I understand that it’s more important for the diabetic people to have it, than the people that want to lose weight, but I want to lose weight to not become diabetic!

  24. I was on Trilicity for a while and it was working well. Then, all of a sudden I was unable to purchase it and I was informed by the Pharmacists that it was due to the drug being used as a weight loss alternative and wouldn’t be able to access any until at least the new year. Since then, my diabetes has worsened again and my levels are not controllable.
    When this drug is made available, will it only be available to the people who require it for medical purposes, not for simply weight loss?

  25. I have been on monjaro for 3 months it has changed my life I lost 47 lbs and my a1c is below 7!I was over 11

  26. I wonder when will it be available in South Africa?

  27. Hi
    When will this be available in Australia.

  28. Where can I get this new medicine called tirzepatide?

  29. I am so disgusted that people are using this and other similar drugs for the sole purpose of losing weight and depriving us diabetics from a very useful diabetic medication.

  30. Concerned PharmD | November 10, 2022 at 10:10 pm | Reply

    In the SURPASS-3 study Eli Lilly and Co. now holds the patent which will expire April 1st, 2039 meaning there cannot be a generic on the market until the patent expires. This study is very biased. Each researcher received grants and research support from Eli, other pharmaceutical companies and subsidiaries. In the study each participant knew what they were given. It also wasn’t properly balanced. More men than women (808 to 636), ethnicity was majority white (1015) compared to Hispanic or Latino (421). For race, 1312 were white, 78 were Asian, and 44 were African American. Here is the link to the study. You can find more information at the bottom. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/results/NCT03882970

  31. Patti-the-heal3r | November 11, 2022 at 6:35 am | Reply

    Hi I’m on jardiance and well its very expensive and my insurance doesn’t want to pay it anymore. Is this expensive? And can you make it in a pill form pls! I don’t do injections

  32. Hopefully be available everywhere for everyone who needs it. England .

  33. Will the trial come to England and can it help type 1 diabetic I would love to give it a try

  34. Is it or when is it going to be in wisconsin I need that to get my A1c down right now it is 7.9

  35. I’ve been Type 2 for 20 years or more . My A1C was very high. So I started on truelisty I’m currently taking metformin 3 xs a day Novalog 3 x a day n Bassgular 2xs a day. I ve worked very hard with diet n exercise.
    My last A1C was almost perfect, I’m just wondering if I can ever stop taking all this insulin? My parents and grandparents on both side had diabetes. Out of 5 children I’m the one with that has it worse.
    None of my brother or sisters take insulin .
    Help idf you can

  36. Why do they have to kill off our enjoyment of food? I am not overweight but was put on victoza. After two years started to throw up four times a week. At that point I had to force myself to eat. Was told to go off Vic for two weeks. Solved the upchucking but now have permanently lost my appetite. And no more drugs to help keep my sugars in check. I LOVE food. Or used to at least.

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