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Zepbound is a safe and effective weight loss medication for people with multiple conditions. Image from Lilly
  • New research finds Zepbound can lead to weight loss even for people with multiple medical conditions.
  • Experts say the results point to the notion that the drug should continue to be used as directed, with close consultation from medical professionals.
  • Zepbound, along with Ozempic, Wegovy, and Saxenda, is part of a family commonly called GLP-1 drugs that have been used to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Zepbound, the brand name version of tirzepatide, is still an effective weight loss treatment for people with multiple obesity-related conditions like hypertension and high cholesterol.

Researchers studied if the drug led to weight loss for people with obesity who have additional medical conditions, according to a study by the drug’s maker, Eli Lilly.

The study is being presented Saturday at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Boston. It has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The new study by Eli Lilly looked at 4,726 people with obesity or who were overweight from four different trials; all subjects had an additional health condition related to obesity, and nearly 20% of them had type 2 diabetes. The subjects who took Zepbound had more weight loss than those who were given a placebo, and having the other conditions did not make a difference in that weight loss.

Zepbound, along with Ozempic, Wegovy, and Saxenda, is part of a family commonly called GLP-1 drugs, or glucagon-like peptide1 receptor agonists. Because they help reproduce or enhance the effects of a naturally occurring gut hormone that assists in the control of blood sugar levels, they can also reduce appetite by working on brain hunger centers.

Zepbound was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in November 2023 for weight loss in adults with obesity or who are overweight with at least one related condition like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure).

Tirzepatide is also sold under the brand name Mounjaro, which is used to regulate blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and can also lead to weight loss.

Mir Ali, MD, a bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at Orange Coast Medical Center in California, who was not involved in the Eli Lilly study, told Healthline that while all GLP-1 drugs can work regardless of extra medical conditions, there are some unique aspects to Zepbound.

“I think we see that with all GLP-1 drugs. Zepbound is a bit more effective because it affects more than just GLP-1 — it affects other receptors. In the comparison between Wegovy and Zepbound, Zepbound did have more weight loss and, interestingly, fewer side effects,” Ali said. “Tirzepatide is able to affect more than one receptor. It affects the GLP one receptor but also the GIP receptor, which are both involved in hunger and satiety and motility.”

Dan Azagury, MD, FACS, the chief bariatric surgeon and medical director of Stanford University School of Medicine’s Lifestyle and Weight Management Clinic in California, who also was not involved in the Eli Lilly study, told Healthline that he was not surprised at the study’s results.

“We know that the treatment is effective even for longstanding or severe disease — this is a confirmation of what we say day to day in our clinic,” Azagury said. “GLP-1s don’t have the same effectiveness on everyone, but to date we don’t yet know what will make you a better responder to the treatment, but it’s effective very broadly. The main advantage of GLP-1s compared to previous treatments is that the rate of response is very high across the board.”

Azagury and Ali both noted that side effects are not necessarily dependent on someone’s health conditions and that they can vary greatly from person to person.

“I don’t think we can extrapolate that from this study, and again, we don’t have a good way to predict which patients will have more side effects than others,” Azagury said. “I think this highlights the fact that these drugs need to be used the way they were intended, not for a short stint, and with appropriate support from providers.”

“Side effects are really variable. Everybody responds differently to these medications,” Ali said. “I’ve seen some patients on the maximal dose have zero side effects and I’ve seen other patients on a very minimal dose and have more severe side effects. So it’s very much patient-dependent. And it’s unpredictable. For some people, it doesn’t necessarily correlate with their medical conditions.”

Ali added that, regardless of the drug or the person’s medical conditions, weight loss in obesity is a difficult, multifactorial problem that requires careful tailoring and commitment. The drugs themselves can be helpful, either with surgical procedures or separately, but diet and lifestyle are still extremely important.

“We emphasize to the patients, no matter what we do, whether it’s just counseling, medication, surgery, that all of these things are tools to help the patient switch to a healthier diet and healthier lifestyle. Then they’re more likely to have a long-lasting effect,” Ali said. “Sometimes we see patients say, ‘OK, I’m just going to take this medication,’ or ‘I’m just going to do this surgery, and I really don’t have to change what I’m doing,’ and they tend to be much less successful.”

People with obesity or who are overweight still have success losing weight on Zepbound, the brand name version of tirzepatide, regardless of other obesity-related conditions like hypertension.

A new study by Zepbound’s maker, Eli Lilly, examined data from nearly 5,000 people with obesity and obesity-related conditions in four different studies and found that the drug’s weight-loss effects were stronger than those of a placebo.

Experts say the results point to the notion that the drug should continue to be used as directed, with close consultation from medical professionals.