Patients Find Weight Loss Drug Zepbound A Game Changer, But Makers See Production Delay Until 2025

Zinger Key Points
  • Sales of weight loss drugs have surged to almost $11 billion in 2023 from $4 billion in 2022, and demand is outpacing supply.
  • When discussing outside of the near term, Eli Lilly's Executive says that predicting when the supply will be full is very challenging.

The GLP-1 class of drugs for weight loss has gained tremendous popularity but is struggling with a shortage that could extend into 2025. Who says that? The companies that make those drugs predict.

The weight loss drug frenzy took off when the FDA approved Novo Nordisk A/S’s NVO Wegvoy (semaglutide) in 2021. Eli Lilly And Co’s LLY Zepbound (tirzepatide) appears to spur the momentum after receiving FDA approval in November 2023.

According to the FDA, limited supplies of Eli Lilly’s diabetes drug Mounjaro and weight-loss drug Zepbound are expected through the second quarter of this year due to heightened demand

NBC’s Christine Romans reports for TODAY on how companies are trying to keep up with demand.

TODAY’s report notes that America’s relationship with weight loss is dramatically transforming as drugs from Eli and Novo Nordisk are changing the game.

Related: Eli Lilly Suffers Legal Loss For Its Popular Weight Loss/Diabetes Drug In Lawsuit Against Florida Compounding Pharmacy.

Sales surged to almost $11 billion in 2023 from $4 billion in 2022, and demand is outpacing supply.

In the North Carolina site, there is an all-hands-on-deck effort to increase the production of Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro for diabetes and Zepbound for weight loss.

The U.S. giant has injected multi-billion dollars into the new North Carolina facility to push out the medications in the market.

Edgardo Hernandez, Eli Lilly EVP & Manufacturing operations resident, says the drugs will be available from the facility to the pharmacies in January 2025 or sometime next year.

The time is not soon enough, as roughly 80,000 people are taking Zepbound due to a shortage just five months after the FDA approved it.

Talking with TODAY, Rhonda Pacheco, US Lilly Diabetes & Obesity Group Vice President, said it is the function of the massive demand that the makers are scrambling to keep up.

Pacheco added that there will be limited availability for the near term, which may cause delays across some of the doses for both Mounjaro and Zepbound.

The 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, and 15 mg doses of both drugs are particularly affected, while the 2.5 mg doses are available. Initially projected to be available in limited quantities through April, Mounjaro doses have been scarce since February. 

When discussing outside of the near term, she adds that predicting when the supply will be full is very challenging.

Additionally, Trulicity (dulaglutide), another diabetes medication by Lilly, will see restricted availability of its 1.5 mg and 4.5 mg doses through April due to inc- patients are advised to plan for refills by contacting their pharmacy at least one week in advance.

“While we anticipate limited availability in the near term, we expect our investments in manufacturing and supply capacity to progressively increase production of our medicines throughout 2024 and beyond,” Reuter highlighted, citing Lilly’s spokesperson.

Price Action: LLY shares are down 0.14% at $749.71 on the last check Thursday.

Photo by Ciara Kimsey via Shutterstock

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