Type 2 diabetes: Adding Mounjaro to insulin may aid weight loss

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |
A single dose of Mounjaro leaning against a box of tirzepatide injections for diabetesShare on Pinterest
Mounjaro may be more effective in controlling type 2 diabetes when added to insulin treatment. The Washington Post/Getty Images
  • About half of all people with diabetes do not know they have it.
  • However, uncontrolled type 2 diabetes may lead to potentially serious health issues.
  • Researchers have now found that adding Mounjaro to insulin treatments not only helps lower average blood sugar levels but also provides more weight loss and less hypoglycemia in people with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes.

As of 2021, an estimated 537 million people globally have diabetes. Of that number, about 96% of them have type 2 diabetes — a type of diabetes where the body no longer uses insulin correctly.

However, many times, people with type 2 diabetes are not aware they have it. Previous research estimates that almost half of all people with diabetes are undiagnosed.

Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can lead to potentially serious health complications, including heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, and vision loss.

Now, researchers from Velocity Clinical Research at Medical City in Dallas, Texas, say adding Health">tirzepatide — marketed under the brand name Mounjaro — to insulin treatments helps lower average blood sugar levels and provides more weight loss and less hypoglycemia in people with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes.

This study was recently published in the journal JAMA.

Mounjaro is the brand name of an injectable medication called tirzepatide, only available by prescription. A person prescribed Mounjaro has to give themselves injections at home.

It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2022 as a treatment for helping improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes.

Mounjaro is currently the only medication that is both a Health">glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and Health">glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist.

Similar medications like Ozempic and Wegovy are only GLP-1 receptor agonists.

Both GIP and GLP-1 are primary incretin hormones secreted by the intestine when you eat something containing sugar or any other ingredient that stimulates the secretion of insulin by the pancreas.

Mounjaro mimics these two hormones and signals the pancreas to increase its insulin production and stop the liver from producing more sugar. It also heightens the body’s sensitivity to insulin. All of these together help improve the body’s blood sugar control.

Additionally, Mounjaro causes you to feel full sooner when eating, as well as staying full for a longer period of time, potentially assisting with weight loss.

A study presented this past October at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual meeting reported that Mounjaro was more effective for both weight loss and blood sugar management than Ozempic and Wegovy.

For people with type 2 diabetes who are considering trying a medication like Mounjaro or Ozempic, what do they need to know when making a decision?

First off, Dr. Shafipour said people should understand these are medications that require them to deliver injections to themselves at home, so they must be comfortable with that. And he said when prescribing, doctors need to make sure there are no contraindications.

“The biggest contraindication is if someone is at risk of medullary thyroid cancer based on their family history — it’s a pretty rare form of thyroid cancer,” he detailed.

Who can’t be prescribed Mounjaro

“[If people have] multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 in their family history, then we can’t prescribe [Mounjaro]. Also, if people are at risk of developing pancreatitis or pancreas inflammation, these drugs can cause that.”
— Dr. Pouya Shafipour

Dr. Cheng said people should know about the potential side effects of these types of medications — including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, slowing of the gut, and potential for pancreatitis. And people should also factor in the cost of the medications.

“There is a cost consideration for this medication. While there are significant benefits for the medication, there is also a high cost, which is often covered by medical insurance,” she continued.

Not yet approved for weight loss

“I would also like patients to know that this medication is not approved for weight loss at this time. Most insurance companies require a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes for coverage. For non-diabetic patients, there is an alternative to [Mounjaro] called Wegovy. Patients will need a weight loss benefit in their insurance to obtain coverage for obesity medication.”
— Dr. Jennifer Cheng

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