Everything We Know About The New FDA Approved Drug To Treat Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes affects many Americans of all ages. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it impacts 37.3 million Americans, or 11.3% of the population. Out of this number, 90-95% have type 2 diabetes, which is caused when a person's body doesn't react properly to insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas (per Medical News Today). This is known as insulin resistance, and because of it, the body can't take in enough blood sugar, which is needed for energy (via CDC). Naturally, the body overcorrects by forcing your pancreas to produce more insulin. This tires the pancreas out and leads to high blood sugar levels, setting the stage for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, which may lead to other major health concerns like kidney disease.

Tirzepatide is the newest FDA-approved drug on the market to treat type 2 diabetes. It's an incretin-based drug that increases the secretion of two incretin hormones — GLP-1 and glucose-dependent insulin tropic polypeptide (GIP) – which regulate hunger. According to Medical News Today, these hormones improve the release of insulin.

How effective and safe is this new FDA approved drug?

Drugs that are incretin-based have been highly effective in treating diabetes for years, notes Gizmodo. Since the new drug, tirzepatide, utilizes the power of incretin hormones, it follows a similar path to other diabetes medications. However, what sets it apart is the focus on both GLP-1 and GIP, which offers extra support against a common issue that people with type 2 diabetes face — cells unresponsive to incretin hormones (via Medical News Today).

In the SURPASS trials, researchers conducted five studies reporting that tirzepatide not only reduced blood sugar levels, but also reduced weight (via Medical News Today). The SURMOUNT-1 study shared that 63% of participants experienced body weight reductions of at least 20% when taking 15 mg of tirzepatide for 72 weeks. Dr. Jeff Emmick, Lilly's vice president of product development, said via Lilly, "Tirzepatide is the first investigational medicine to deliver more than 20 percent weight loss on average in a phase 3 study, reinforcing our confidence in its potential to help people living with obesity."

Tirzepatide works through a weekly shot, says Medical News Today. Research indicates the drug is relatively safe, but some people experience side effects. According to Medical News Today, the most common side effects participants experienced were diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and in rare cases, extremely low blood sugar levels. More research is still being conducted.