Eli Lilly announced Tuesday that its new diabetes drug, Mounjaro, was once again available with wholesalers, after a two-month-long shortage.
The drug used to treat type 2 diabetes is often used off-label as a weight loss drug. It was granted a fast-tracked label for weight loss by the Food and Drug Administration in October 2022.
“Because Mounjaro is still a launch product with dynamic demand, some pharmacies may continue to experience intermittent delays from time to time,” Eli Lilly told Reuters.
The booming demand for the drug led to a shortage in supplies, so much so that the U.S. health regulator added Mounjaro to its list of drugs facing shortages in December.
Approved in the United States in May 2022, Mounjaro is used by people with type 2 diabetes to control their blood sugar levels. The common name of the drug is tirzepatide, and it is a weekly injection. Due to its weight loss effects, the drug is anticipated to get approval as a weight loss medicine next year.
A study conducted over 72 weeks found participants had a “substantial and sustained reduction in body weight,” by taking Mounjaro, irrespective of the dosage.
Some potential side effects of taking the drug include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, stomach pain, and indigestion, according to Forbes. While symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting typically happen with an increase in dosage, they usually subside over time, according to Eli Lilly.
Some severe side effects of Mounjaro include stomach issues, kidney problems, and kidney failure.
A more worrying side effect of Mounjaro is thyroid tumors or cancer. In this regard, the National Institute of Health’s Mounjaro medication guide advises against taking the medication if a patient has a family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma, a type of thyroid cancer, or if they have an endocrine system condition called Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type two.
Effectiveness as a weight loss drug
In the clinical trial mentioned earlier, it was found that Mounjaro usage allowed participants to lose up to 22.5% of their body fat. In comparison, other weight loss drugs–Wegovy and Saxenda–did not fare as well, with participants experiencing an average of a 15% and 5% reduction in body fat respectively.
Despite being effective, the cost of Mounjaro can be prohibitive for some people. When used as a drug to treat type two diabetes, it costs $1,023.04 per refill (which lasts for 28 days) without insurance, according to Eli Lilly.