Teruel is not exempt from carrying out clinical research projects of international importance. One of eight Spanish doctors, and the only one from Aragon, who is taking part in the trial with patients from Tirzepatida, an as yet unmarketed drug that is proving very effective in the fight against diabetes and obesity, is Luis Ciprés, endocrinologist at Obispo Polanco Hospital and Galileo Polyclinicin the capital of Teruel.
For nearly four years, Ciprés has been carrying out tests with this drug, made from a synthetic molecule obtained in the laboratory. The drug began to be studied for its antidiabetic effects, but the investigations have opened up an unexpected field in the fight against obesity, by achieving results that experts consider “unprecedented”.
Trials indicate that Tirzepatide reduces blood sugar to levels similar to those of a healthy person, while in its anti-obesity aspect, after 72 weeks of treatment the patient lose between 15% and 20% of weight, against the failure of weight-loss diets. Hence the interest in marketing this product, already prescribed in the United States against diabetes, but not sold against obesity, whereas in Europe it is not yet in pharmacies for either of its two uses.
“It is twice as effective as other analogues because it is the first capable of acting on two of the gastrointestinal hormones that stimulate the production of insulin, delay gastric emptying and reduce appetite, which makes it very effective, both for diabetes and obesity“, emphasizes Luis Ciprés, who adds that the potential of the new drug in weight loss is such that, in some cases, could be an alternative to surgical treatments.
Ciprés explains that the tests to overcome the filter imposed by the state agencies which finally approve the marketing of a drug are not at all simple and that in this case, as they are international tests, this are the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Spanish Medicines Agency (AEMPS). In addition, the experiments must have approval from a research ethics board.
As in other cases, in the case of Tirzepatida, it was necessary to carry out a comprehensive patient follow-up who voluntarily participate in trials to confirm the efficacy and safety of the drug, which makes it necessary to carry out multiple clinical checks and continuous blood tests that are being studied in laboratories in the UK.
The final cost of Tirzepatide should not be prohibitive. Eli Lilly and Company, the pharmaceutical company that produces and is now seeking approval for this anti-obesity drug, has a US list price of $974.33 for four doses (one month’s treatment). The company is convinced that rebate programs reduce the monthly cost for patients to just $25. For Europe there is no reference price because it is not yet marketed.
Tirzepatide works by stimulating the effect of the two hormones responsible for insulin secretion, delaying gastric emptying and, by influencing different regions of the brain, reducing appetite. This is why Ciprés, which throughout its long history was principal investigator in a total of 20 trials each for several years on diabetes medicationsestimate that “Sooner or later the drug will be very useful in the treatment of obesity”. According to him, the tests with Tirzepatide are also the most obvious proof that “Research at the highest level can be carried out from Teruel”.