- Retatrutide, a new injectable drug candidate from Eli Lilly, is delivering stunning weight loss in clinical trials.
- Doctors are comparing the results so far to bariatric surgery, calling it the “triple G.”
- “Their mind is freed from the burden of trying to control every morsel of food” one doctor said.
The clinical trial results for a new, injectable hormone pen have stunned researchers — it’s looking stronger than Ozempic or Mounjaro, and nearly on par with bariatric surgery.
Results of two separate mid-stage clinical trials of the drug, called retatrutide, which is under development from drugmaker Eli Lilly, were released in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and The Lancet on Monday.
Doctors discussing the results at the American Diabetes Association conference in San Diego were floored by the rapid weight loss that hundreds of people with obesity and diabetes achieved on this investigational drug, as well as the dramatic improvements to their blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels.
“We have not seen results like this before,” said Dr. Ania Jastreboff, director of the Yale Obesity Research Center, and an author of the NEJM paper.
Other doctors at the conference agreed that retatrutide could be a groundbreaking drug for both weight loss and Type 2 diabetes management. Conference attendees from around the globe clapped and gasped when the results were announced.
“This raises the bar,” Dr. Carel Le Roux from University College Dublin, an obesity researcher who was not affiliated with these studies, said during a press conference. “This is way beyond my wildest dreams.”
Retatrutide: The ‘triple G’ drug that frees the mind
Retatrutide is similar to Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro in that it is a once weekly injection of hormones that change the way we eat, leading to early feelings of fullness and decreased appetite.
But unlike Ozempic and Wegovy, which mimic only one hunger-regulating hormone (GLP-1), or Mounjaro, which mimics two hormones (GLP-1 and GIP), retatrutide is a single molecule that mimics three different hunger-regulating hormones: GLP-1, GIP, and glucagon. That “triple G” action, as some scientists termed it at the meeting, seems to have more potent effects on a person’s appetite and satisfaction with food.
“What our patients express is freedom,” Jastreboff said. “Their mind is freed from the burden of trying to control every morsel of food that they put in their mouth for the rest of their lives.”
In the trial published in the NEJM, patients with obesity who were given the highest weekly dose of retatrutide (12 mg) lost an average of 58 pounds in 11 months. Their weight was still going down even when the trial ended, suggesting that longer, bigger trials yet to be completed may deliver even more impressive weight loss results. Every patient on the highest dose of retatrutide lost at least 5% of their body weight, and a quarter of those participants lost 30% or more of their weight.
In a similar study of retatrutide for patients with Type 2 diabetes published in The Lancet, patients lost about 17% of their bodyweight in nine months, which is a remarkable feat, since it’s typically harder for patients with T2D to lose the same amount of weight as other people with overweight and obesity.
Side effects of retatrutide were similar to Ozempic and Mounjaro, including nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting.
“This is a real wow,” lead Lancet study author Dr. Julio Rosenstock from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said. “Not a single drug has achieved 17% — and you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Much like Jastreboff’s trial, Rosenstock’s trial ended while patients were still losing weight. Given more time, Rosenstock said he expects many of those patients with diabetes would achieve 20% weight loss on this drug. Importantly, about a third of the patients with type 2 diabetes on the drug also reverted to normal blood sugar levels while they were on the drug.
But it will likely take several years before this drug is commercially available. Before the medication can undergo evaluation by the US Food and Drug Administration, and become available to the public, larger and longer phase 3 clinical trials will need to be successfully completed, a process which will likely take at least until the end of 2025.