Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) Comes Out Against the Use of GLP-1 Drugs for “Cosmetic Weight Loss” as Obesity in the US Remains Near Record Highs

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Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) is out today with a much-needed qualifier regarding the emergent probability of its breakthrough GLP-1 weight loss treatments ending up as “lifestyle drugs of choice.”

To wit, Eli Lilly and Company has now published an open letter, noting among other things:

“Mounjaro and Zepbound are indicated for the treatment of serious diseases; they are not approved for – and should not be used for – cosmetic weight loss.”

While addressing the emerging issues with off-label Tirzepatide-based cocktails, Eli Lilly and Company writes:

“Lilly is extremely concerned that some of the compounded Tirzepatide that Lilly has tested has contained high amounts of impurities, and, in at least one instance, was actually nothing more than sugar alcohol.”

Finally, the pharma giant announced that it has commenced legal action against spas and other establishments that are selling products “claiming to contain the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) for Tirzepatide.”

For the benefit of those who might not be aware, Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) hormone plays a critical role in regulating hunger by stimulating the release of insulin in the pancreas, blocking the unhelpful release of glucagon after meals to prevent excess glucose from entering the bloodstream, and slowing the emptying of the stomach to reduce the overall food intake. Simultaneously, GLP-1 receptors also help suppress the brain’s stress response and reward/reinforcement mechanism to increase the feeling of satiation.

Eli Lilly and Company sells its Tirzepatide GLP-1 cocktail under the Mounjaro and Zepbound labels, with the former geared toward diabetes and the latter billed as a treatment for obesity. Without any insurance coverage, a monthly dose of Zepbound costs $1,060. However, for those commercially insured with specific coverage for Zepbound, the drug may cost as low as $25 for a 1-month or 3-month prescription.

We noted recently that, as per an analysis by GarageGymReviews, Google searches for GLP-1 weight loss drugs such as Ozempic have outgrown searches for traditional weight loss methods, including those involving diet, nutrition, and exercise, by 13.7x since Q1 2022. Concurrently, some experts believe that gym customers will soon be able to access GLP-1 drugs within their respective gym’s fitness program to enhance the overall effectiveness of these offerings, leading to potentially detrimental outcomes.

In other news, the American pharma giant has now unveiled LillyDirect, an end-to-end digital healthcare platform that would sell select Eli Lilly and Company drugs directly to eligible customers via a network of online pharmacies.

Of course, Eli Lilly and Company’s biggest rival – Novo Nordisk (NVO) – is out today with its own set of positive developments. Specifically, Novo Nordisk has entered into a research partnership with Omega Therapeutics to develop an mRNA-based treatment for obesity.

These developments come as obesity in the US remains near all-time highs. As per research conducted by Gallup recently, “the percentage of U.S. adults whom Gallup classifies as obese has reached an estimated 38.4%, up 6.0 percentage points since 2019 and just shy of the record high of 39.9% measured in 2022.”

Capital Group recently estimated that the Total Addressable Market (TAM) of GLP-1 drugs marketed by the likes of Eli Lilly and Company and Novo Nordisk is well over 2 billion people. This supports the projection that the annual sales of these drugs will hit the $100 billion level by 2030.

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