If you’re someone who struggles with their weight, you may have come across the medication Mounjaro (Tirzapatide). But is Mounjaro in Canada available and effective? A recent study (and plenty of others) says it is.
The most recent study from Nature Medicine has shown that the diabetes drug from Eli Lilly Canada, a once-weekly GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonist, can help those who are overweight or obese lose up to 25% of their total body weight when combined with intensive diet and exercise.
Specifically, results showed an average of approximately 25kg lost (with a starting body weight of 105kg on average).
The study concluded that participants who were on Tirzapatide lost on average 20.8% more of their body weight compared to participants who received a placebo.
While the results are staggering, you may have some more questions. What is Mounjaro, how does Tirzapatide work, and is Mounjaro the right weight loss drug for you? Read on to discover everything you need to know about this exciting breakthrough in weight loss.
What Is Mounjaro?
Mounjaro (Tirzapatide) is a GLP-1 and GIP dual-agonist injectable medication that is currently approved for diabetes treatment in Canada. It is currently used off-label for weight loss purposes. What exactly is a dual-agonist, and why is it worth considering if you don’t have diabetes?
Dual-agonists are medications which target two different receptors in the body, resulting in a more potent effect. Mounjaro targets both the GLP-1 and GIP receptors, leading to more weight loss than medications targeting only the GLP-1 receptor.
Numerous studies have shown that dual-acting therapy like Mounjaro can lead to greater weight reductions and potential health benefits, such as improved blood sugar levels and lower blood pressure.
As traditional diets and exercise routines may not always yield the desired results, Mounjaro could be an effective option for losing weight and improving your overall health.
What Is Mounjaro Used For?
Mounjaro is the latest medication in the fight against diabetes, representing the first new class of diabetes medicines introduced in the market in nearly a decade.
While not specifically indicated for weight management, this innovative medication has been shown to lead to significant weight loss compared to its competitor, Ozempic (compared to a 1 mg dose of Ozempic).
As of 2023, Mounjaro has entered the Canadian market, offering six doses (2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, 15 mg) in convenient single-use vials.
The recent approval by Health Canada for Mounjaro, as mentioned in a press release from November 2023, was based on the findings of the phase 3 SURPASS program. To assess Mounjaro’s effectiveness, dosages of 5 mg, 10 mg, and 15 mg were evaluated both alone and in combination with diabetes medications such as metformin, SGLT2 inhibitors, sulfonylureas, and insulin glargine.
Participants in the SURPASS program experienced a significant average reduction in HbA1c levels, reflecting Mounjaro’s positive impact. However, the results also showed that at least 5% of patients experienced side effects that included nausea, constipation, vomiting, indigestion, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
How Does Mounjaro Work for Weight Loss?
Mounjaro is a new class of medication that, as mentioned, activates not one but two receptors. This dual-agonist approach differentiates it from other weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, which only activate the GLP-1 receptor.
Here’s what to know about how Mounjaro in Canada works.
Mounjaro is a dual agonist that activates both GLP-1 and GIP receptors. This “double-whammy” approach stimulates hormones that:
- Control blood sugar levels
- Reduce appetite
- Help with weight loss
Activating two receptors instead of one makes Mounjaro unique, and studies suggest it leads to even more significant weight loss results than other weight loss solutions currently on the market.
Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1)
GLP-1 exerts its main effect by stimulating glucose-dependent insulin release from the pancreas. It has also been shown to slow gastric emptying (which makes you feel fuller, for longer), inhibit inappropriate post-meal glucagon release, and reduce food intake. GLP-1 helps regulate appetite and, when activated, can increase feelings of fullness. It can also help with insulin sensitivity.
Other medications, like Ozempic and Wegovy, only activate the GLP-1 receptor – which may explain why Mounjaro is more effective.
Glucose-Dependent Insulinotropic Polypeptide (GIP)
GIP is a lesser-known hormone that plays a synergistic role in controlling insulin secretion. When activated, GIP can help regulate insulin release and modulate glucagon activity depending on your level of fasting.
What Are the Side Effects of Mounjaro?
If you’re considering Mounjaro for weight loss in Canada, it’s important to understand the potential side effects before taking it. Like any medication, Mounjaro has a risk of side effects that may impact your health and well-being.
While Mounjaro can be an effective tool for weight loss in Canada, it’s important to know the potential side effects before taking it. In severe cases, these side effects might outweigh any potential weight loss benefits you see from taking the medication.
Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience unusual symptoms while taking Mounjaro. As with any medication, you should weigh the potential benefits and risks with a qualified medical professional before starting treatment.
Nausea and Vomiting
According to the FDA, nausea and vomiting are the most common side effects of Mounjaro, which are similar to those seen in other GLP-1 receptor agonists like Ozempic and Wegovy. These symptoms typically improve with time, but they can be uncomfortable and may require medication to manage.
Other common side effects of Mounjaro include diarrhea, decreased appetite, constipation, and upper abdominal discomfort. Rarely, individuals can go on to develop intestinal blockage. This is more common in individuals with a prior history of abdominal surgery.
In addition to digestive issues, some users of Mounjaro may experience abdominal pain. This is typically caused by gastrointestinal irritation or blockage. Always speak with your doctor if you are concerned about abdominal pain.
Thyroid C-Cell Tumors
One of the most concerning side effects of Mounjaro is the risk of thyroid C-cell tumors, which has been observed in rats during pre-clinical studies. While it is not yet known if Mounjaro causes similar tumors in humans, it is a potential risk that should be considered.
It’s important to note that the risk of thyroid C-cell tumors is relatively low, and most people who take Mounjaro will not experience this side effect. However, if you have a family history of thyroid tumors or have previously been diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer, Mounjaro may not be a safe option for you.
Other Medical Conditions
While Mounjaro is effective for weight loss, it’s not suitable for everyone. If you have a history of pancreatitis or type 1 diabetes, it’s best to steer clear of GLP-1 receptor agonist-based therapies, given recent findings.
Why is that? Patients with a history of pancreatitis are at a higher risk of experiencing severe side effects from GLP-1 receptor agonists. Hemorrhagic and non-hemorrhagic pancreatitis have both been reported in postmarketing studies, and all GLP-1 receptor agonists come with a warning regarding pancreatitis.
Similarly, while there are potential benefits of using GLP-1 receptor agonists for individuals with type 1 diabetes, the risks outweigh the potential benefits for the time being.
Studies have shown that these agents can decrease glucagon and promote weight loss, but as of now, there isn’t enough data available to support the use of these drugs in type 1 diabetes patients.
Until we have more conclusive evidence, the consensus amongst practitioners is to avoid prescribing GLP-1 receptor agonists for type 1 diabetes patients entirely.
Reproductive Considerations with Mounjaro
Agents other than Mounjaro are currently recommended if you have type 2 diabetes mellitus and are planning to become pregnant (ADA 2023). The same information applies to patients with obesity.
In addition, tirzepatide may decrease the efficacy of oral hormonal contraception due to changes in gastric emptying; contraceptives administered by a non-oral routes are not affected. Because the changes in gastric emptying are largest following the first dose, if you are using an oral contraceptive, you should add a barrier method for 4 weeks after starting tirzepatide treatment and for 4 weeks after each dose increase.
Pregnancy and Mounjaro
Based on data from animal reproduction studies, in utero exposure to tirzepatide may cause fetal harm.
Agents other than Mounjaro are currently recommended to treat diabetes mellitus in pregnancy (ADA 2023).
Breastfeeding and Mounjaro
It is not known if tirzepatide is present in breast milk.
According to the manufacturer, the decision to breastfeed during therapy should consider the risk of infant exposure, the benefits of breastfeeding to the infant, and the benefits of treatment to the mother.
How to Inject Mounjaro?
Follow these 4 steps to use your Mounjaro pen:
- Wash your hands and take the pen out of the fridge. Leave the grey base cap on until you’re ready to inject
- Double-check the label to ensure you have the correct medicine and dose. Ensure the pen isn’t expired or damaged
- Choose your injection site. Your health care provider can help you choose the injection site that is best for you.
- Pull off the base cap. Place the base flat on your skin, then unlock.
- Press and hold the button for up to 10 seconds. Listen for the first click. It means the injection has started. The second click means that the injection is complete.
Always speak with your pharmacist or physician to learn how to inject Mounjaro. Further instructions can be found here.
Where to Inject Mounjaro?
When injecting Mounjaro for weight loss, you’ll inject it subcutaneously, which means just below the skin. Typically, the best places to inject Mounjaro are the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. These areas have a lot of fatty tissue, allowing for more effective drug absorption. Your physician can help you decide the best location for you.
You may be instructed to rotate the injection sites. This means that you switch up where you inject your Mounjaro from week to week.
Rotating the injection site helps prevent irritation and skin damage. Your body needs time to heal between injections, and constantly injecting in the same spot can cause rashes, infections, or other skin issues.
What Happens If You Miss a Dose of Mounjaro?
Consistency in your treatment routine is crucial to maximizing the medication’s benefits. However, it’s understandable that sometimes life gets in the way, and you miss a dose or two. If you miss a dose of Mounjaro, the steps you must take depend on the number of days since your missed dose.
If you missed a dose in the past four days (or fewer), take it immediately. Then, continue with your regular weekly dosing schedule.
However, if more than four days have passed since your missed dose, experts recommend that you skip that dose and proceed with your next weekly dose at the scheduled time. Skipping the missed dose helps maintain the medication’s proper timing and avoid potential disruptions in its effectiveness.
Regardless of the number of days that have passed, ensuring a minimum gap of at least three days between Mounjaro injections is important. This timeframe allows for the medication to be properly metabolized in your body.
Mounjaro for Weight Loss in Canada
Are you interested in taking Mounjaro in Canada but unsure if it’s the right fit for your lifestyle? Let’s walk you through some of the most common questions about Mounjaro for weight loss.
Mounjaro needs to be stored in a refrigerator. Store your Pen in the refrigerator between 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C). Refrigeration prevents the active ingredients from breaking down, ensuring the medication works properly and is safe.
Do not freeze your Pen. If the Pen has been frozen, throw the Pen away and use a new Pen.
The Pen has glass parts. Handle it carefully. If you drop the Pen on a hard surface, do not use it. Use a new Pen for your injection.
Keep your Mounjaro Pen and all medicines out of the reach of children.
Mounjaro and Travel
You can travel with your Mounjaro pen using the following guidance from Eli Lilly.
As per the manufacturer, Mounjaro can be stored unrefrigerated for up to 21 days if the temperature stays below 86°F (30°C). This means that your pen simply needs to remain cool while travelling and not go over the recommended temperature.
How Do I Know When My Mounjaro Pen Is Empty?
You will know when your Mounjaro pen is empty because each pen contains just one dose of the medication, which can be either 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, or 15 mg. So, once you have used one full pen, it’s empty.
When you start the injection, you will hear the first click, which indicates that it has begun. After the medication is fully administered, another click will let you know it’s done. You can also check if the gray plunger is visible, which tells you the injection is complete.
Mounjaro and Alcohol
Alcohol can affect blood glucose levels, especially in individuals with diabetes. Depending on the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption, both low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) may occur.
If you’re taking Mounjaro for diabetes, it’s recommended to avoid alcohol if you have high triglycerides, neuropathy, or pancreatitis. If your diabetes is under control, minimal alcohol consumption usually does not significantly impact blood glucose levels.
However, it is advisable to limit alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. One drink refers to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. If you’re following a diet or exercise plan for weight loss, consume alcohol according to the rules of your regular meal plan.
To minimize the risk of hypoglycemia, it is best to avoid consuming alcohol on an empty stomach or after exercise. These situations can increase the likelihood of experiencing low blood sugar levels.
Mounjaro and Fatty Foods
Are there any Mounjaro foods to avoid? Yes, when taking Mounjaro for weight loss, it’s important to consider the impact of fatty foods on your body. Greasy and fried foods are typically high in fat and can be challenging for your body to digest.
Additionally, these foods often contain a significant amount of carbohydrates. Therefore, consuming such foods may result in feelings of nausea if you are taking Mounjaro.
To support the effectiveness of Mounjaro and achieve your weight loss goals, we suggest avoiding certain high-fat foods. This includes French fries, potato chips, hamburgers, pizza, fried chicken, donuts, and other options. Instead, focus on incorporating healthier food choices into your diet.
Furthermore, it’s essential to remember that Mounjaro works best when combined with a proper diet and exercise routine. Consuming fatty foods and not maintaining a calorie deficit can potentially hinder your weight loss progress or reduce the effectiveness of Mounjaro injections.
To maximize Mounjaro’s benefits, follow a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Incorporating regular physical activity into your routine will also support your weight loss journey.
What Happens If You Stop Taking Mounjaro?
As you can see from the various studies linked throughout this article, Mounjaro has shown promising weight loss results by reducing appetite and controlling blood sugar levels. However, if you stop taking Mounjaro, there are potential consequences to consider.
One of the main benefits of Mounjaro is a decreased appetite, which contributes to weight loss when taking the drug. Therefore, when you stop taking the medication, you might experience an increased appetite, as the drug no longer suppresses your hunger. This could lead to potential weight gain if you consume more calories than before.
Additionally, Mounjaro helps manage blood sugar levels. Abruptly stopping the medication may result in spikes, as the drug is no longer helping to regulate them.
Whether you’re taking Mounjaro for diabetes or weight loss, it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely. Consult your healthcare provider for guidance on managing your diabetes effectively without Mounjaro.
The bottom line?
Unfortunately, there’s limited information available about the long-term effects of stopping Mounjaro or the sustainability of weight loss achieved with the medication. As with medications like Ozempic, continued use may be necessary to maintain the desired effects, and the benefits might stop once you stop your injections. This does mean there is a chance you put the weight back on.
If you have concerns about discontinuing Mounjaro or the potential impact on your weight, discuss these concerns with your healthcare provider. They can provide personalized guidance and help you determine the best course of action for your overall health and well-being, such as having a long-term weight loss plan in place.
How Much Does Mounjaro Cost in Canada?
The cost of Mounjaro in Canada can vary significantly.
Currently, Mounjaro costs approximately $100 / week at pharmacies across Canada. However, the actual amount you will pay largely depends on your prescription drug insurance plan. Prices and coverage may differ based on individual insurance policies and varying provincial regulations.
If you want to take Mounjaro, consult your healthcare provider, pharmacist, and insurance company to understand the specific coverage and associated costs. By exploring different insurance plans and options, you can determine the most affordable solution to access Mounjaro and effectively manage your weight loss journey.
How to Get Mounjaro in Canada
The first step to getting Mounjaro in Canada is to consult with your physician. Schedule an appointment and discuss your interest in obtaining a prescription for Mounjaro.
Your physician will guide you through the process, which may involve additional steps such as lab work. They’ll likely provide you with an order for the required tests, which you can complete at your preferred lab. The results of these tests will help your physician decide whether Mounjaro is suitable for you.
A qualified Canadian doctor will take your medical history, conduct an examination, and determine if Mounjaro is necessary for your situation. It’s important to note that prescribing medication is always at the discretion and medical judgment of the treating physician.
By following these steps and working with your physician, you can navigate the process of obtaining a Mounjaro prescription and receive the necessary assistance to make your weight loss journey a success.
Mounjaro Canada – Is It Right for You?
So, is Mounjaro right for you? Let’s summarize some of this drug’s pros and cons. Studies show that Moujaro may help with weight loss at a higher rate than similar drugs currently on the market, like Ozempic or Wegovy. Specifically, the study published in Nature Medicine showed that patients lost an average of 27 kilograms (60 pounds). Mounjaro also helps regulate blood sugar levels, which can benefit individuals with diabetes. Like similar drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy, Mounjaro may have unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects, including nausea and stomach discomfort. Additionally, Mounjaro can be expensive, and the high drug costs may pose a financial challenge for some individuals. Most importantly, the long-term effects of Mounjaro are not yet fully known, and more research is needed to understand its sustained effectiveness and potential risks.
Tips for Considering Mounjaro
Before starting any weight loss medication, including Mounjaro, speak with your healthcare provider. They can assess your situation and determine if it’s the right solution for you.
Talk to them about potential side effects and alternative options available for weight management. You should consider your overall health, medical history, and personal preferences when deciding if Mounjaro is right for you.
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