HomeDiabetesWhy Ozempic, Mounjaro, and GLP-1s Could Be Game Changers for Type 1...

Why Ozempic, Mounjaro, and GLP-1s Could Be Game Changers for Type 1 Diabetes

Medically reviewed by Anna Goldman, MD.

By now, everybody is aware of that new medicine like Ozempic and Mounjaro are maybe the best medicine ever developed for kind 2 diabetes and weight problems. Much less consideration has been paid to their potential to assist folks with kind 1 diabetes. 

Satish Garg, MD, has a daring prediction: “I’ve little doubt in my thoughts: Going ahead, this class of medication goes for use by the overwhelming majority of individuals with kind 1 diabetes.”

Dr. Garg, a professor on the College of Colorado’s Barbara Davis Heart for Diabetes, has authored two latest research on the real-world use of GLP-1s to deal with kind 1 diabetes in people who find themselves additionally obese or have weight problems: one on semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy) and one on tirzepatide (Mounjaro, Zepbound), which is technically a GLP-1/GIP agonist. They present these blockbuster medicine can have distinctive advantages, together with large weight reduction and important blood sugar reductions.

Finally, nevertheless, Garg thinks that nearly everybody with kind 1 diabetes will likely be utilizing a GLP-1, even people who find themselves not obese: “There are advantages above and past weight reduction, even in people with regular BMI [body mass index].”

“Smaller doses of those medicine will likely be used routinely in folks with diabetes, not due to weight reduction, however due to the long-term advantages they could give — heart problems and kidney illness — and since glycemia is considerably improved.”

GLP-1 medicine are usually not at the moment permitted by the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) for the therapy of kind 1 diabetes — they usually could by no means be. However a rising variety of clinicians are prescribing them off-label, principally to folks with kind 1 who’re obese or have weight problems.

Sort 1 Diabetes, Obese, and Weight problems

The traditional stereotypical kind 1 diabetes affected person is a toddler who’s skinny and even emaciated. Acute hyperglycemia, the signature characteristic of undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes, prevents the physique from harvesting power from meals; ultimately, the physique will begin burning physique fats and muscle for gas, resulting in unexplained weight reduction, amongst different signs.

Fortunately, that stereotype is now largely out of date, not less than within the developed world. Fashionable insulin and glucose measurement know-how permit folks with kind 1 diabetes to stay longer and more healthy lives. For higher or worse, it is usually now far simpler to eat a normal food plan, which signifies that folks with kind 1 have more and more begun to resemble their nondiabetic friends. One draw back to the shift is that extreme weight achieve is now nearly as prevalent within the kind 1 diabetes inhabitants as it’s within the normal inhabitants.

The well being modifications related to obese and weight problems can have detrimental penalties for each short-term glucose administration and long-term well being. “Individuals with kind 1 diabetes have the identical troubles as folks with kind 2,” says Garg, together with “weight achieve, insulin resistance, heart problems, and kidney illness.” In some circumstances, sufferers will develop double diabetes

Briefly, folks with kind 1 diabetes want efficient weight problems therapy simply as badly as different adults do.

Semaglutide, Tirzepatide, and Sort 1 Diabetes: The Information

Garg’s latest research evaluated the real-world use of GLP-1s prescribed to folks with kind 1 diabetes on the Barbara Davis Heart. In the meanwhile, using such medicine is nearly solely restricted to folks with a transparent medical have to reduce weight.

The tirzepatide evaluation evaluated members with a mean age of 40 and a mean diabetes length of 24 years. Initially of the examine, their common weight was 229 kilos. Most had been white and feminine.

Tirzepatide appeared to set off main metabolic enhancements throughout the board:

  • Extraordinary weight reduction: After one yr, the typical participant had misplaced 18.5 p.c of their physique weight, a whopping 46.5 kilos. A number of the sufferers misplaced as a lot as 200 kilos.
  • A1C enchancment: The common A1C dropped 0.67 proportion factors. Common blood sugar ranges dropped by 23.5 mg/dL.
  • Extra time in vary: Members spent an extra 15 p.c of their day inside the goal glucose vary.
  • Fewer glucose excursions: Customary deviation, a measure of the amplitude of blood sugar swings, declined considerably.
  • Decrease insulin doses: Volunteers required far much less insulin, a mean of 24.7 fewer items per day. Basal doses declined by about 10 items, bolus insulin by about 15 items.

“The advantages are unbelievable,” says Garg. “It actually flattens all of the glucose excursions.” And the burden loss was past his expectations.

Garg’s earlier trial of semaglutide additionally recognized complete enhancements, together with weight reduction, higher A1C, and elevated time-in-range. The outcomes weren’t fairly as spectacular, although, notably on the subject of weight reduction: Semaglutide customers misplaced solely a mean of 16 kilos.

However GLP-1s Carry Severe Dangers for Individuals With Sort 1 Diabetes

Regardless of the marvelous outcomes, there’s a motive why consultants are very cautious about recommending using semaglutide and tirzepatide for folks with kind 1 diabetes. These highly effective medicine carry very actual dangers for folks with the situation. The medicine must be managed in a singular manner, utilizing a brand new technique that consultants haven’t fairly agreed on but.

 There are two lethal obstacles that each one folks with kind 1 diabetes always have to navigate round: the threats of extreme low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). GLP-1 medicine are suspected to boost the chance of every.

GLP-1s and DKA

GLP-1s have shortly turn into legendary for his or her dangerous gastrointestinal unwanted effects. At its highest dosage, for instance, semaglutide causes diarrhea in 32 p.c and vomiting in 25 p.c of customers.

For most individuals, these unwanted effects disappear as their our bodies turn into accustomed to the medicine. However the dangers are sharply elevated for folks with kind 1 diabetes, as a result of dehydrating sicknesses like vomiting and diarrhea can lead quickly to DKA. And Garg fears that these tummy troubles could also be much more frequent in folks with kind 1 diabetes.

DKA is finally attributable to a important lack of insulin, which causes all method of hormone and electrolyte imbalances; the blood turns into an acidic toxic cocktail, and the situation is deadly with out emergency therapy. This blood acidification each causes dehydration and is accelerated by dehydration. And when folks with kind 1 diabetes can not eat or drink because of a abdomen ailment, they are going to inevitably use much less insulin, which solely makes DKA much more prone to develop.

The worry of DKA requires folks with kind 1 diabetes to be particularly cautious with GLP-1 medicines.

GLP-1s and Hypoglycemia

Alternatively, GLP-1s can enhance the chance of extreme low blood sugar occasions as a result of they radically influence insulin necessities. Most individuals with diabetes who take an injection of a GLP-1 drug will expertise enhanced insulin sensitivity virtually in a single day. GLP-1s themselves don’t usually trigger hypoglycemia; in truth, they work in a glucose-dependent method, stopping blood sugar spikes after meals. But when customers with kind 1 diabetes don’t quickly modify their insulin utilization, they’re susceptible to utilizing an excessive amount of and plunging their blood sugar all the way down to unsafe ranges.

On the Barbara Davis Heart for Diabetes, Garg instructs his sufferers to cut back their insulin by 20 p.c after they begin a GLP-1 for the primary time. He and his colleagues continued to recommend modifications because the examine went on and members stepped as much as increased GLP-1 dosages.

No person within the examine was hospitalized with extreme low or excessive blood sugar. However Garg has had some scary experiences together with his personal sufferers who overcompensated and commenced taking even much less insulin than he suggested “as a result of they had been terrified of getting hypoglycemia. And that ends in a excessive threat of DKA.”

Garg took the potential risks significantly: “We intently monitored these sufferers.” All members wore a steady glucose monitor (CGM), permitting docs to remotely comply with their blood sugar ranges. Not one of the members skilled extreme hypo- or hyperglycemia.

However, Garg stays “completely” frightened about using GLP-1s in much less fastidiously managed circumstances. “I’m undoubtedly frightened that these medicine are going for use left and proper in folks with kind 1 diabetes.”

Individuals With Sort 1 Diabetes Want Smaller GLP-1 Doses

The easiest way to handle these two dangers, Garg believes, is to take smaller doses of GLP-1 medicines within the first place. Smaller doses and extra gradual dose escalation schedules can soften the influence and cut back the severity of unwanted effects and insulin requirement modifications. 

That’s simpler stated than achieved. Ozempic, Mounjaro, and different injectable medicine on this household are manufactured and distributed in exact, discrete doses that weren’t designed for the extra delicate our bodies of individuals with kind 1 diabetes. However there are methods of injecting much less medicine than the producers supposed.

A starter dose of Ozempic, for instance, is 0.25 milligrams (mg) per week. However Garg thinks that’s far an excessive amount of for most individuals with kind 1: “We’d begin them on 0.1 mg after which regularly over three months construct them up 1 or 2 mg per week.” It’s attainable to attract up smaller doses of semaglutide by counting clicks on the supply pen, a way that neither the FDA nor the producer endorses.

Tirzepatide is available in a pen system that doesn’t permit for customized dosing in the identical manner. For smaller tirzepatide doses, Garg will typically ask his sufferers to take a dose each 10 days somewhat than each 7. A few of his sufferers go additional and extract exact smaller doses of tirzepatide from the pen utilizing an insulin syringe — a way that Garg doesn’t suggest.

Smaller doses aren’t essentially only for the preliminary months of therapy. Clinicians could be clever to maintain sufferers with kind 1 on smaller GLP-1 doses all through their therapy. On the Barbara Davis Heart, only a few of the examine members who had been prescribed tirzepatide ever progressed to the upper accessible doses. The imply tirzepatide dose in use on the finish of the trial was about 10 mg (the third-largest dose accessible), and, after one yr, solely 6 of 62 members used the best accessible weekly dose (15 mg). And other people with much less weight to lose have even much less want of huge doses.

The necessity for smaller doses is most crucial for youngsters utilizing these medicine. Garg insists that many docs and endocrinologists are already prescribing GLP-1s to youngsters who’re obese and have kind 1 diabetes, regardless of a whole lack of examine or official steering on the problem. Youngsters have smaller our bodies, in fact, however adolescence will also be a very difficult time for blood sugar administration. Hormonal modifications are inclined to introduce dramatic shifts in insulin sensitivity, making it much more vital to proactively handle threat. (Semaglutide is permitted for weight reduction in adolescents ages 12 and up, although there’s some controversy over how continuously they need to be prescribed.)

New Tips Are Wanted

Garg states that using GLP-1s to deal with kind 1 diabetes is already fairly frequent. However there’s no telling in the event that they’re being prescribed and used safely in the actual world: “The suppliers actually don’t know how you can use these medicine correctly. The entire pointers must be written.”

In a latest editorial for Diabetes Expertise & Therapeutics, Garg and his colleagues shared their greatest practices for the protected and efficient use of GLP-1s in folks with kind 1 diabetes. Listed below are among the most important takeaways for clinicians:

  • Cut back insulin dose by 20 to 30 p.c when initiating GLP-1 therapy.
  • Modify insulin doses when sufferers step as much as bigger GLP-1 doses.
  • Titrate GLP-1 doses extra slowly than the producers suggest, stepping up each two or three months somewhat than month-to-month.
  • Sufferers can “rely clicks” to make use of smaller doses of semaglutide.
  • Sufferers can use tirzepatide much less continuously than each seven days.
  • Be sure that sufferers have glucagon rescue medicine at house.
  • Instruct sufferers to check ketone ranges commonly.

Although these suggestions are primarily based on strong medical expertise, Garg and his colleagues are nonetheless simply making educated guesses a couple of largely unstudied phenomenon. There have been loads of research on older, much less highly effective medicine within the GLP-1 class, corresponding to liraglutide, however semaglutide and tirzepatide signify new territory.

“The correct research must be achieved to be taught one of the best ways to make use of these medicine, that are undoubtedly wanted in folks with kind 1 diabetes.”

Do You Must Take GLP-1s Eternally?

It’s extensively believed that GLP-1s should be used indefinitely or the advantages will go away.

On the Barbara Davis Heart, a whole lot of sufferers with kind 1 have used a GLP-1 medicine and misplaced weight. Of the numerous who’ve ceased to make use of the drug, solely three have been in a position to preserve the burden off. In all chance, semaglutide and tirzepatide are lifelong medicine.

However, Garg is making very conservative suggestions and has repeatedly suggested that sufferers attempt to taper off and discontinue their GLP-1 after reaching their weight reduction objective. “We don’t know the long-term results of those medicine. No person has achieved research in kind 1.”

Sufferers, in fact, could have completely different concepts. A couple of has informed him flatly, “Dr. Garg, you’re by no means taking me off of this drug.”

A latest survey by Thrivable, a diabetes market analysis agency, demonstrated that folks with kind 1 diabetes who use GLP-1 medicine are much more prone to suppose positively about the way forward for diabetes therapy: 41.2 p.c of GLP-1 customers reported feeling optimistic, in contrast with a mere 5.6 p.c of nonusers. The outcome means that new medicine are so efficient that some folks with kind 1 diabetes will fully change their outlook on life with this continual situation. “This medicine modified every part for me,” stated one respondent.

Utilizing GLP-1s in Individuals With out Extra Weight

What in regards to the two-thirds of individuals with kind 1 diabetes who should not have weight problems?

Well being consultants have repeatedly warned that individuals who should not have a demonstrated medical want to make use of weight reduction medicine mustn’t use them. Using GLP-1s in lean sufferers has not been studied, and there are some indications that it might pose particular dangers, together with extreme muscle loss.

Lean adults with kind 1 diabetes, nevertheless, arguably have a number of particular causes to take GLP-1 medicine:

  • Enhanced blood sugar management. GLP-1s might meaningfully enhance glycemic outcomes. 
  • Beta cell safety. Final fall, a really small trial advised {that a} small dose of semaglutide might dramatically cut back the necessity for insulin in new kind 1 diabetes sufferers. The drug could in some way gradual the development of kind 1 diabetes after prognosis.
  • GLP-1s could uniquely profit folks with kind 1 diabetes by correcting alpha cell dysfunction, a secondary characteristic of the situation that leads the liver to launch extreme quantities of glucose into the bloodstream.
  • Cardiovascular safety. Semaglutide was not too long ago permitted by the FDA for coronary heart assault and stroke prevention. Each of those extreme outcomes are extra frequent in folks with kind 1 diabetes.
  • Kidney safety. Although the FDA hasn’t but endorsed GLP-1s for the prevention of kidney illness, the early proof is extraordinarily encouraging. Kidney illness can also be extraordinarily frequent in folks with kind 1 diabetes.

For now, Garg doesn’t suggest GLP-1s to sufferers who are usually not obese. The dangers are far too unknown. However a few of his extra adventurous and decided sufferers have satisfied him to allow them to attempt: 

“I’ve a number of sufferers who’re lean-bodied who’re on these medicine. Do I need them to make use of them? No. But it surely retains their blood sugar profile so flat, even I find it irresistible. Their A1C is down into the 6s. However behind my thoughts, I at all times have a hesitation that these people would possibly go into ketosis.”

Garg hopes that the long-rumored improvement of a steady ketone monitor — Abbott, the maker of the FreeStyle Libre steady glucose monitor, has one within the works — might assist lean sufferers utilizing a GLP-1 extra successfully guard in opposition to DKA. “That may change the best way we use these medicine.”

“A handful of those individuals are utilizing [GLP-1s], and we’re seeing wonderful outcomes. There isn’t any doubt in my thoughts that these medicine are going to have their use, even in normal-BMI folks, for the general glycemic impact.”

Crucial Trials Might By no means Take Place

Garg’s expertise provides invaluable insights into the dangers and advantages of GLP-1s for folks with kind 1 diabetes, however to essentially perceive these medicine’ influence, there’s a want for enormous, lengthy, rigorous randomized managed medical trials. The identical trials may also be important to persuade insurers that they need to pay GLP-1s for many individuals with kind 1. Sadly, these experiments won’t happen anytime quickly — and should by no means.

Such trials can price a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to run. And to this point, the producers of semaglutide and tirzepatide, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, “haven’t indicated any need” to prepare main trials for kind 1 therapy, in accordance with Garg.

There are fewer than 10 million folks with kind 1 diabetes worldwide, hardly something in contrast with the 500 million with kind 2 diabetes and 2 billion who’re obese or have weight problems. Contrasted with the broader potential marketplace for Ozempic/Wegovy and Mounjaro/Zepbound, the sort 1 diabetes inhabitants is almost immaterial.

JDRF and different diabetes nonprofits might assist advance the science by funding tutorial analysis research. However finally it is just huge pharma that has the monetary heft to pay for the trials that the FDA desires to see.

The FDA, nevertheless, might drive pharmaceutical corporations to behave. If the off-label use of GLP-1s for kind 1 diabetes turns into so prevalent as to be unimaginable to disregard, the FDA “would possibly mandate the businesses to go and do these research,” says Garg. However that day, if it ever comes, is probably going a few years away.

“I don’t know what the long run will likely be, however I can inform you, these medicine are right here to remain,” says Garg.


The blockbuster GLP-1 medicines semaglutide and tirzepatide have unbelievable potential to assist folks with kind 1 diabetes, providing weight reduction, blood sugar reductions, and doubtlessly long-term coronary heart and kidney safety. Finally, GLP-1s could even turn into vital for the therapy of virtually everybody with kind 1 diabetes — even those that don’t reduce weight.

Nevertheless, there’s nonetheless a lot we don’t learn about using GLP-1s to deal with kind 1 diabetes, and it might be a few years earlier than rigorous trials result in official pointers for clinicians. Sufferers and docs alike needs to be extraordinarily cautious with this highly effective class of medicines, as a result of these medicine pose dangers which are distinctive to folks with kind 1 diabetes.



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