Eli Lilly has launched its first Mounjaro TV commercial called ‘What If?’
The ad comes just a few weeks after the once-weekly injection was finally fully re-stocked on shelves after a two-month shortage.
Mounjaro (tirzepatide) is a dual glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) agonist, which makes it the first-in-class drug that activates both receptors to help regulate blood sugar and appetite.
Shortages of GLP-1 receptor agonists like Mounjaro, Novo Nordisk’s wildly popular Ozempic (semaglutide) as well as Lilly’s Trulicity (dulaglutide) were largely driven by their off-label prescribing for obesity and weight loss.
In addition, Novo Nordisk’s higher dose version of Ozempic, Wegovy (semaglutide), indicated for weight loss, has also suffered shortages. Social media trends and unofficial endorsements from celebrities are to blame for the continuing frenzy around the use of semaglutide injections for weight loss.
While GLP-1 receptor agonist injections like Mounjaro and Ozempic are indicated for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, weight loss is a ‘side effect’ of these drugs given their action on pathways involved in regulating appetite.
The “What If?” Mounjaro TV commercial features patients pondering the possibility of managing their type 2 diabetes “differently.” The ad says Mounjaro “helps your body regulate blood sugar and can help decrease the amount of food you eat.”
Given the continuing demand for Mounjaro, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Lilly spent almost $19.6 million on its first direct-to-consumer (DTC) ad for it, which debuted at the fifth spot on iSpot.tv’s top 10 drug ad spending list for March 2023. AbbVie’s ads for its immunology drugs Rinvoq and Skyrizi took the top two spots while Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid came in at number three with an estimated national TV ad spend of $30 million.
Mounjaro received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in May 2022.
Mounjaro’s consumer campaign kickstarted in February with a 75-second version of the ad that debuted on FOX. A digital campaign for the drug was launched in January.
Head-to-head trials evaluating Mounjaro, Ozempic and Wegovy (in patients with and without type 2 diabetes) have shown Mounjaro having the edge over the other two with demonstrated superiority in measures of fat mass reduction and time to achieving A1C reduction targets. Mounjaro also led to an average body weight loss of at least 20 percent compared to 15 percent with Wegovy and six to seven percent with Ozempic.
High consumer demand led to shortages of Ozempic and Mounjaro late last year, drawing criticism of its off-label use for weight loss as it deprived patients who rely on it to manage their type 2 diabetes.
In October of last year, Lilly adjusted its discount program for Mounjaro, requiring people to prove that they have type 2 diabetes.
Lilly is, however, expecting an FDA approval later this year for a weight loss version of Mounjaro. The drug is on the FDA’s fast track approval pathway.