Eli Lilly’s Zepbound in shortage months after approval

April 18, 2024

The weight loss medication Zepbound has gone into shortage just months after it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with its manufacturer Eli Lilly blaming the situation on high demand.

As of this week, most tirzepatide injections (sold commercially as Mounjaro and Zepbound) have limited availability, according to the FDA’s shortage database. The cited reason for all the shortages of tirzepatide is “demand increase for the drug.”

The FDA approved Zepbound for weight loss in November. Tirzepatide was already being sold on the market as the diabetes treatment Mounjaro, though off-label use for weight loss did occur prior to Zepbound’s approval.

“We have experienced an unparalleled surge in demand for our type 2 diabetes and obesity medicines. As a result, there is limited availability of several doses of Mounjaro® (tirzepatide), Zepbound® (tirzepatide) and Trulicity® (dulaglutide) in the U.S,” a spokesperson for Eli Lilly told The Hill in a statement.

“We recognize this situation may cause a disruption in peoples’ treatment regimens and are working with purpose and urgency to help meet the surge in demand,” they added. “As a medicine company, we know that our medicines help people live healthier lives and we take this situation very seriously.”

Tirzepatide is a GLP-1 agonist, the same class of drug as Ozempic. These work by mimicking a hormone called GLP-1 that stimulates insulin secretion. Interest in GLP-1 agonists has skyrocketed in recent years due to their efficacy and reported popularity among the rich and famous.

Executives for Eli Lilly told NBC News that the limited supply would last for the near term.

“We are working so hard every day to make sure that we increase that capacity as fast as we can to get these medications in patients’ hands,” Rhonda Pacheco, Lilly’s group vice president for diabetes and obesity, told the outlet.

The company is working to address the inadequate supply by opening a dedicated manufacturing facility in Concord, N.C., though products from this plant aren’t expected to hit shelves until next year.