Why Ozempic, Mounjaro, and GLP-1s May Be Sport 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 simplest medicine ever developed for kind 2 diabetes and weight problems. Much less consideration has been paid to their potential to assist individuals with kind 1 diabetes. 

Satish Garg, MD, has a daring prediction: “I’ve little question 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 Middle for Diabetes, has authored two current research on the real-world use of GLP-1s to deal with kind 1 diabetes in people who find themselves additionally chubby 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 huge weight reduction and vital blood sugar reductions.

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

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

GLP-1 medicine should not at the moment authorized by the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) for the remedy of kind 1 diabetes — and so they might by no means be. However a rising variety of clinicians are prescribing them off-label, principally to individuals with kind 1 who’re chubby or have weight problems.

Type 1 Diabetes, Chubby, 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 vitality from meals; ultimately, the physique will begin burning physique fats and muscle for gasoline, resulting in unexplained weight reduction, amongst different signs.

Fortunately, that stereotype is now largely out of date, a minimum of within the developed world. Trendy insulin and glucose measurement know-how enable individuals with kind 1 diabetes to dwell longer and more healthy lives. For higher or worse, it is usually now far simpler to eat a regular weight-reduction plan, which signifies that individuals with kind 1 have more and more begun to resemble their nondiabetic friends. One draw back to the shift is that extreme weight acquire is now nearly as prevalent within the kind 1 diabetes inhabitants as it’s within the basic inhabitants.

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

In brief, individuals with kind 1 diabetes want efficient weight problems remedy simply as badly as different adults do.

Semaglutide, Tirzepatide, and Type 1 Diabetes: The Knowledge

Garg’s current research evaluated the real-world use of GLP-1s prescribed to individuals with kind 1 diabetes on the Barbara Davis Middle. For the time being, using such medicine is sort of completely restricted to individuals with a transparent medical must drop some weight.

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

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

  • Extraordinary weight reduction: After one 12 months, the typical participant had misplaced 18.5 % of their physique weight, a whopping 46.5 kilos. A few of the sufferers misplaced as a lot as 200 kilos.
  • A1C enchancment: The common A1C dropped 0.67 share factors. Common blood sugar ranges dropped by 23.5 mg/dL.
  • Extra time in vary: Individuals spent an extra 15 % 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 median of 24.7 fewer models per day. Basal doses declined by about 10 models, bolus insulin by about 15 models.

“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, significantly with regards to weight reduction: Semaglutide customers misplaced solely a median of 16 kilos.

However GLP-1s Carry Severe Dangers for Folks With Type 1 Diabetes

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

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

GLP-1s and DKA

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

For most individuals, these uncomfortable side effects disappear as their our bodies turn into accustomed to the medicine. However the dangers are sharply elevated for individuals 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 widespread in individuals with kind 1 diabetes.

DKA is in the end attributable to a essential 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 remedy. This blood acidification each causes dehydration and is accelerated by dehydration. And when individuals with kind 1 diabetes can’t eat or drink as a consequence of a abdomen ailment, they’ll inevitably use much less insulin, which solely makes DKA much more more likely to develop.

The concern of DKA requires individuals with kind 1 diabetes to be particularly cautious with GLP-1 drugs.

GLP-1s and Hypoglycemia

Alternatively, GLP-1s can enhance the danger of extreme low blood sugar occasions as a result of they radically impression 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 actual fact, they work in a glucose-dependent method, stopping blood sugar spikes after meals. But when customers with kind 1 diabetes don’t quickly regulate their insulin utilization, they’re susceptible to utilizing an excessive amount of and plunging their blood sugar right down to unsafe ranges.

On the Barbara Davis Middle for Diabetes, Garg instructs his sufferers to scale back their insulin by 20 % once they begin a GLP-1 for the primary time. He and his colleagues continued to counsel modifications because the research went on and members stepped as much as greater GLP-1 dosages.

No one within the research was hospitalized with extreme low or excessive blood sugar. However Garg has had some scary experiences along with his personal sufferers who overcompensated and started taking even much less insulin than he suggested “as a result of they have been fearful of getting hypoglycemia. And that ends in a excessive danger of DKA.”

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

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

Folks With Type 1 Diabetes Want Smaller GLP-1 Doses

One of the best ways to handle these two dangers, Garg believes, is to take smaller doses of GLP-1 drugs within the first place. Smaller doses and extra gradual dose escalation schedules can soften the impression and cut back the severity of uncomfortable side effects and insulin requirement modifications. 

That’s simpler mentioned than carried out. 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 might begin them on 0.1 mg after which regularly over three months construct them up 1 or 2 mg per week.” It’s potential 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 machine that doesn’t enable for customized dosing in the identical approach. For smaller tirzepatide doses, Garg will generally ask his sufferers to take a dose each 10 days slightly 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 remedy. Clinicians may be clever to maintain sufferers with kind 1 on smaller GLP-1 doses all through their remedy. On the Barbara Davis Middle, only a few of the research members who had been prescribed tirzepatide ever progressed to the upper obtainable doses. The imply tirzepatide dose in use on the finish of the trial was about 10 mg (the third-largest dose obtainable), and, after one 12 months, solely 6 of 62 members used the best obtainable weekly dose (15 mg). And folks with much less weight to lose have even much less want of enormous doses.

The necessity for smaller doses is most crucial for kids utilizing these medicine. Garg insists that many medical doctors and endocrinologists are already prescribing GLP-1s to kids who’re chubby and have kind 1 diabetes, regardless of an entire lack of research or official steerage on the difficulty. Youngsters have smaller our bodies, after all, however adolescence may 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 essential to proactively handle danger. (Semaglutide is authorized for weight reduction in adolescents ages 12 and up, although there’s some controversy over how ceaselessly they need to be prescribed.)

New Pointers Are Wanted

Garg states that using GLP-1s to deal with kind 1 diabetes is already fairly widespread. 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 one can use these medicine correctly. The entire pointers have to be written.”

In a current editorial for Diabetes Expertise & Therapeutics, Garg and his colleagues shared their finest practices for the protected and efficient use of GLP-1s in individuals with kind 1 diabetes. Listed here are a few of the most vital takeaways for clinicians:

  • Scale back insulin dose by 20 to 30 % when initiating GLP-1 remedy.
  • Regulate 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 slightly than month-to-month.
  • Sufferers can “rely clicks” to make use of smaller doses of semaglutide.
  • Sufferers can use tirzepatide much less ceaselessly than each seven days.
  • Guarantee that sufferers have glucagon rescue medicine at house.
  • Instruct sufferers to check ketone ranges recurrently.

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, comparable to liraglutide, however semaglutide and tirzepatide symbolize new territory.

“The correct research have to be carried out to study one of the simplest ways to make use of these medicine, that are undoubtedly wanted in individuals with kind 1 diabetes.”

Do You Must Take GLP-1s Endlessly?

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

On the Barbara Davis Middle, lots of 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 capable of hold the burden off. In all chance, semaglutide and tirzepatide are lifelong medicine.

Nonetheless, 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 aim. “We don’t know the long-term results of those medicine. No one has carried out research in kind 1.”

Sufferers, after all, might have totally different concepts. Multiple has instructed him flatly, “Dr. Garg, you’re by no means taking me off of this drug.”

A current survey by Thrivable, a diabetes market analysis agency, demonstrated that folks with kind 1 diabetes who use GLP-1 medicine are way more more likely to assume positively about the way forward for diabetes remedy: 41.2 % of GLP-1 customers reported feeling optimistic, in contrast with a mere 5.6 % of nonusers. The consequence means that new medicine are so efficient that some individuals with kind 1 diabetes will utterly change their outlook on life with this power situation. “This medicine modified all the pieces for me,” mentioned one respondent.

Utilizing GLP-1s in Folks With out Extra Weight

What concerning the two-thirds of individuals with kind 1 diabetes who do not need weight problems?

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

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

  • Enhanced blood sugar management. GLP-1s may meaningfully enhance glycemic outcomes. 
  • Beta cell safety. Final fall, a really small trial recommended {that a} small dose of semaglutide may dramatically cut back the necessity for insulin in new kind 1 diabetes sufferers. The drug might someway gradual the development of kind 1 diabetes after analysis.
  • GLP-1s might uniquely profit individuals 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 just lately authorized by the FDA for coronary heart assault and stroke prevention. Each of those extreme outcomes are extra widespread in individuals 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 widespread in individuals with kind 1 diabetes.

For now, Garg doesn’t suggest GLP-1s to sufferers who should not chubby. 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 couple of sufferers who’re lean-bodied who’re on these medicine. Do I need them to make use of them? No. Nevertheless it retains their blood sugar profile so flat, even I like it. Their A1C is down into the 6s. However behind my thoughts, I all the time have a hesitation that these people may 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 — may assist lean sufferers utilizing a GLP-1 extra successfully guard towards DKA. “That may change the best way we use these medicine.”

“A handful of those persons are utilizing [GLP-1s], and we’re seeing wonderful outcomes. There is no such thing as a doubt in my thoughts that these medicine are going to have their use, even in normal-BMI individuals, for the general glycemic impact.”

Vital Trials Could By no means Take Place

Garg’s expertise gives priceless insights into the dangers and advantages of GLP-1s for individuals with kind 1 diabetes, however to actually perceive these medicine’ impression, there’s a want for large, lengthy, rigorous randomized managed medical trials. The identical trials can even be important to persuade insurers that they need to pay GLP-1s for many individuals with kind 1. Sadly, these experiments is not going to happen anytime quickly — and will by no means.

Such trials can price lots of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to run. And to date, the producers of semaglutide and tirzepatide, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, “haven’t indicated any want” to prepare main trials for kind 1 remedy, in line with Garg.

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

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

The FDA, nonetheless, may drive pharmaceutical firms to behave. If the off-label use of GLP-1s for kind 1 diabetes turns into so prevalent as to be unattainable to disregard, the FDA “may 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 might be, however I can let you know, these medicine are right here to remain,” says Garg.


The blockbuster GLP-1 drugs semaglutide and tirzepatide have unimaginable potential to assist individuals with kind 1 diabetes, providing weight reduction, blood sugar reductions, and doubtlessly long-term coronary heart and kidney safety. Finally, GLP-1s might even turn into essential for the remedy of just about everybody with kind 1 diabetes — even those that don’t drop some weight.

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


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