- The new drug Retatrutid is being tested to treat diabetes and promote weight loss.
- A similar “game-changing” weight-loss drug called semaglutide was approved in 2021 and quickly sold out.
- Retatrutid may be even more effective by acting on three appetite-related hormones instead of just one.
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A potential new weight loss drug is continually being researched, following other blockbuster drugs like semaglutide that are changing the medical industry’s approach to weight management.
Retatrutide is a once-weekly injection from the drug company Eli Lilly, which is completing phase 2 studies looking at the drug for both weight loss and the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
The testing follows the 2021 approval of weight-loss drug Semaglutide, a once-weekly injectable drug originally used to treat diabetes. Experts called it a “game changer” for weight loss, and it quickly sold out. A similarly promising diabetes drug called tirzepatide, also a weekly injection, is awaiting FDA approval for weight loss.
Both work by mimicking a hormone called GLP-1, which helps regulate blood sugar and can make people feel full faster after eating.
Retatrutid works in a similar way, but it also affects two other hormones in addition to GLP-1. One called the glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) also helps control blood sugar.
The other, called glucagon, can help suppress appetite and increase energy expenditure, so you eat fewer calories and burn more.
A spokesman for Eli Lilly said that based on current research, the combined effects “are expected to result in significantly more weight loss” than other weight loss drugs.
Preliminary analysis from phase 2 studies showed that people taking Retatrutide with obesity (a body mass index of 30 or greater) but not with diabetes reported losing up to 24% of their body weight in 48 weeks Investors Business Daily. That’s faster weight loss than study results for tirzepatide, which resulted in a 20% reduction in body weight over 72 weeks.
Currently, the overall safety profile of Retatrutide is comparable to similar drugs, according to Eli Lilly’s spokesperson. Semaglutide has been linked to some side effects, such as nausea, but it’s considered to be just as safe as other routinely used prescription drugs, said Dr. W. Scott Butsch, director of obesity medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, previously told Insider.
Eli Lilly’s spokesperson said the company is currently finalizing data analysis from the Phase 2 study results and plans to provide more detailed information on the results, including safety information, at the American Diabetes conference scheduled for June 23-26 Association Scientific Sessions 2023.
More details on the drug’s full timeline, including Phase 3 trials, will be announced in 2023, according to the spokesperson.