Cheaper and more effective? A look at Eli Lily's Zepbound

Cheaper and more effective? A look at Eli Lily's Zepbound
Zepbound injection pen

Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk have been in competition for a long time. Both companies sell insulin for type 2 diabetes and both sell treatments in the form of GLP1 Receptor Agonist drugs – Semaglutide (made by Novo Nordisk) and Tirzepatide (made by Eli Lilly).

Don't know what a GLP1 Receptor Agonist is? Check out our quick explainer

While Semaglutide was first to market (and Wegovy was approved for weight loss by the FDA), Eli Lilly wasn't far behind with Tirzepatide (sold as Zepbound) which is focused much more towards weight loss.

Zepbound website

Where's the buzz around Zepbound?

With the FDA's approval of Zepbound for weight loss (specifically, the FDA approving Zepbound for Obesity treatment), Eli Lilly made headlines:

In smaller media, many doctors with YouTube channels have gotten to reviewing differences and teaching people more:

While the name "Zepbound" isn't as well known as Ozempic just yet, it's certainly growing in popularity, and at the lower price points we're hearing about it's going to likely be even more widely used.

Is Tirzepatide (Zepbound) consistently Cheaper than Semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy, etc)?

While treatments like Ozempic and Wegovy are known for their high cost, Zepbound is genreally priced lower than Semaglutide (Source: GoodRX)

  • 28 day supply of Zepbound is around $1,060
  • Wegovy charges around $1,350 as a list price

Quartz has an excellent article on what the changes mean for consumers, with this table prominently featured:

DrugManufacturerFDA approvalList price ($)
Wegovy (semaglutide)Novo Nordisk for chronic weight management1,349
Saxenda (liraglutide)Novo Nordisk for chronic weight management1,349
Zepbound (tirzepatide)Eli Lillyfor chronic weight management1,060
Mounjaro (tirzepatide)Eli Lillyfor Type 2 Diabetes1,023
Rybelsus (semaglutide)Novo Nordisk for Type 2 Diabetes936
Ozempic (semaglutide)Novo Nordisk for Type 2 Diabetes936

source: Quartz

Another thing Eli Lilly also has a feature called LillyDirect which can sell medication directly to consumers.

Lilly Medicine Online Pharmacy Solutions & Focused Telehealth | LillyDirect™
Take the next step in your care journey with LillyDirect™ for select Lilly medicines, focused telehealth services, and online pharmacy solutions and delivery.

There have been some reports of LillyDirect being nothing more than a funnel to very specific partner pharmacies, but it's always great to see more options for consumers.

Is Zepbound more effective than Ozempic?

The New England Journal of Medicine has published some research that helps answer this question, way back in 2021.

The study is called Tirzepatide versus Semaglutide Once Weekly in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes, and the findings are summed up in this research summary:

Tirzepatide research summary

Researchers found that Tirzepatide (ex. Zepbound) caused more loss of body weight than Semaglutide (ex. Ozempic), at all dose levels.

Tirzepatide research results chart

As you can see in the graph above, Semaglutide at 1mg caused significantly less body weight loss than Tirzepatide at 5-15mg strength.

Is Safety similar between Tirzepatide (Zepbound) and Semaglutide (Ozempic)?

While only a medical professional can properly advise on whether a treatment or drug is safe for you, the research suggests that Zepbound and Ozempic do not have drastically different risks/dangers to your body.

GLP1 Receptor Agonist drugs (the kind of drug that Zepbound and Ozempic are) are not miracle drugs, and do come with side effects and risks.

Are GLP1 drugs (Semaglutide) safe?
Drugs like Ozempic, Mounjaro, Wegovy and others are helping people beat type 2 Diabetes and lose weight, but are these drugs safe? 💡Don’t know what “GLP1” means? Check out our explainer article on “GLP1 Agonists” for an easy to understand explanation. What does “safe” mean? Before we can talk about

The most common "adverse events" (medical research terminology) were what are commonly seen in other GLP1 drugs:

  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

We can read straight from the research:

The most common adverse events were gastrointestinal and were primarily mild to moderate in severity in the tirzepatide and semaglutide groups (nausea, 17 to 22% and 18%; diarrhea, 13 to 16% and 12%; and vomiting, 6 to 10% and 8%, respectively).

While the side effects were mild to moderate in this particular study, please consult with your doctor/primary care physicial, or a relevant medical professional before starting any new regimen or routine.

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