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Mounjaro has to be injected every seven days. SUR
Mounjaro: The new weight-loss drug that promises to 'revolutionise' the market in Spain
Health

Mounjaro: The new weight-loss drug that promises to 'revolutionise' the market in Spain

The product will be launched to the Spanish market this week. But what will it cost? How much weight will you lose? Who can take it?

Iván Gelibter

Malaga

Wednesday, 26 June 2024, 12:07

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Mounjaro, a new weight-loss drug that promises to be much more effective than Ozempic and Wegovy, goes on sale across Spain on 1 July.

Scientific director of Ibima and an expert in the field, Francisco Tinahones, said it is a "revolutionary drug" - even more so than its predecessors - which has already brought to the table a new formula on how to cure obesity.

How does it work? 

Mounjaro, like other weight-loss drugs, works by mimicking a hormone that regulates appetite and creates a feeling of being full. What is new is that, in this latest case, it is a dual drug with more elements and therefore much stronger.

How much weight do you lose?

Although it depends on the individual, Dr Tinahones said studies have shown the average is more than 20 per cent of the total weight. For comparison, in the case of Ozempic or Wegovy, this figure was "barely" 15%. These more than five percentage points, translated into kilos, make a huge difference.

Who can take it?

As with any medical or pharmacological breakthrough, new drugs need to be taken carefully. This medicine should not be used to "shed a few pounds". Mounjaro is intended for people with obesity, such as those with a body mass index of more than 30. Only in some very specific cases can it be prescribed for overweight people, provided they have some other pathology.

Prescription medicine

Even if you feel you meet all the parameters for taking it, Mounjaro will only be available on prescription, so it will have to be prescribed by a general practitioner or specialist.

Side effects

One of the strong points of this type of medication - apart from weight-loss as such - is that there are hardly any side effects. Dr Tinahones said nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea may occur, but not in all cases, and they disappear over time. With regard to the news that has appeared of possible cases of pancreatitis, Dr Tinahones said: "In some animal models there was a case of pancreatitis, since much more is inoculated than what is done later with people. But after analysing the studies, it is clear that there are no more cases of pancreatitis in people taking the drug than in those taking the placebo".

How much does it cost?

Mounjaro, at least for now, will not be financed by the social security system (at the request of the laboratory itself), so patients who are prescribed it will have to pay for it. Depending on the dose, it is expected to cost about 150 euros per month, but the higher doses from the fourth month onwards will rise to almost 300 euros every four weeks. Specifically, these higher doses will be 2.5; 5; and 7.5 mg.

'Lack of equity'

The price of this drug, not suitable for all budgets, opens the debate on what Dr Tinahones defined as "inequity". The fact that social security is not financing any of these anti-obesity drugs is a contradiction, since any medical professional argues that this disease is actually the origin of many of the causes of mortality or chronic treatments. "The problem is that obesity is not seen as any other disease. There is a blaming of obese people. That doesn't happen with other diseases; we don't blame someone for getting colon cancer because they didn't eat enough fibre; we don't even blame a smoker for getting lung cancer. Let alone charge them for treatment," he said.

The expert pointed out the European Commission itself which speaks of obesity as a chronic disease. "Financing these drugs has a very high cost. A specific budget has to be set, but governments have to take it on," he added.

Availability in pharmacies

Another of the major problems with these drugs - especially Ozempic - is the difficulty in finding them in pharmacies, which have been grappling with extremely long waiting lists for two years.

In the case of Mounjaro, which is manufactured by the Lilly laboratory, it will be made in Spain, which is why the laboratory assured there will be no stock issues. SUR has contacted several pharmacies, which have so far said they have so far been unable to obtain it. The drug will be officially launched in Spain this Friday 1 July.

What about other medicines?

Although Mounjaro is now on sale, both Ozempic and Wegovy will continue to be sold in pharmacies. It should be remembered that Ozempic - the most popular of the two - is the only one that is covered by social security, but only and exclusively in the case of type 2 diabetics. To counteract the demand, the laboratory Novo Nordisk launched Wegovy, which is exactly the same, but aimed at people with obesity. In this case, the price is higher than that of its "sister" Ozempic, and more similar to Mounjaro, with which it will compete in the market.

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