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Study shows weight regain after stopping Eli Lilly’s Zepbound

New data indicates that patients who underwent treatment with Eli Lilly’s groundbreaking weight loss drug, Zepbound, faced weight regain after discontinuing the medication for a year. This revelation emerges from a comprehensive study funded by Eli Lilly, spanning 88 weeks, underscoring the critical role of sustained therapy in maintaining substantial weight loss.

The complete study findings, which were published in the esteemed research journal JAMA, have had far-reaching implications, leading to a more than 3% drop in Eli Lilly’s stock on Monday following their release. These results shed light on the challenging and dynamic landscape of weight management, with potentially game-changing implications for pharmaceutical interventions.

Zepbound, alongside Novo Nordisk’s weight loss injection Wegovy and their popular diabetes medications, has experienced soaring popularity due to their remarkable ability to help patients achieve significant weight loss without resorting to surgery. In light of these findings, some Wall Street analysts have even speculated that Zepbound, sharing an active ingredient with Eli Lilly’s diabetes drug Mounjaro, might have the potential to become one of the best-selling drugs of all time.

The study on Eli Lilly’s treatment involved 670 obese patients without diabetes, who, over 36 weeks, witnessed an average weight loss of approximately 20% of their body weight through Zepbound. Subsequently, half of these patients continued with the drug for an additional 52 weeks, while the remaining half transitioned to a placebo for the subsequent year.

For those who persisted with Zepbound, they enjoyed an additional 6.7% decrease in weight on average between weeks 36 to 88. In contrast, those who ceased the medication experienced a regain of 14.8% of their weight. Importantly, those who discontinued Zepbound still concluded the 88-week study with 9.9% less weight than their starting point, signifying that they had regained approximately half of their initial weight loss.

Dr. Louis Aronne, the study’s lead author and a prominent expert in obesity medicine and metabolic research at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, emphasized the importance of these findings, stating, “If you look at the magnitude of the weight gain, they gain back about half the weight they had originally lost over a one-year period of time.”

The study also highlighted that approximately 17% of individuals who ceased Zepbound managed to maintain at least 80% of their initial weight loss, while an impressive 90% of those who continued with the treatment succeeded in maintaining at least 80% of their weight loss.

Throughout the entire 88-week study, healthcare professionals advised all patients to reduce their daily calorie intake by approximately 500 calories and engage in at least 150 minutes of weekly exercise.

Dr. Jeff Emmick, Senior Vice President of Product Development at Eli Lilly, offered insights into the implications of these findings. He stressed that obesity is a chronic disease often requiring ongoing treatment and noted that “continued therapy can help people living with obesity maintain their weight loss.” These results underscore the importance of persistent treatment and its potential to make a significant difference in the lives of individuals struggling with obesity.

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