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Does Trulicity cause weight loss?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 6, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com
  • Trulicity is not a weight loss drug, but some people may lose weight.
  • People lost, on average, two to six pounds while taking Trulicity. However, 15 to 30% gained weight.
  • One of the ways Trulicity works is by helping to make you feel full after a meal.
  • People more likely to lose weight include those with a higher starting weight and a longer duration of gastrointestinal side effects.

Trulicity (dulaglutide) is an injectable medicine that is used to improve blood sugar control in adults over the age of 18 with type 2 diabetes. It may also be given to reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (such as a heart attack or stroke) occurring in adults with type 2 diabetes who already have cardiovascular disease or are at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Trulicity is injected under the skin once a week, preferably on the same day each week at the same time. Each injection will help control blood sugar levels for one week. Trulicity is only effective in people with type 2 diabetes.

How much weight loss occurs with Trulicity?

Research has shown that many people lose, on average, two to six pounds while taking Trulicity. However, some people gained weight.

Specific studies have shown that dulaglutide, the active ingredient of Trulicity:

  • Was associated with a greater weight loss (3.23kg on average) compared to insulin glargine in 588 patients also taking insulin lispro. 49% of people in the study administered dulaglutide did not gain weight compared with only 19% administered insulin glargine
  • In the AWARD-1 trial, people gained an average of 0.2kg in weight with dulaglutide 0.75mg
  • In the AWARD-3 trial weight loss with dulaglutide was similar to metformin
  • In the AWARD -4 trial, weight loss with dulaglutide 1.5mg was 0.87kg, while dulaglutide 0.75mg was weight neutral at 26 weeks
  • In the AWARD-6 trial, average weight loss was 2.8kg with dulaglutide 1.5mg compared to 3.6kg with liraglutide
  • In the AWARD-11 trail, the average weight loss after 36 weeks was 4.7kg (10.4 pounds) with dulaglutide 4.5mg; 4kg (8.8 pounds) with dulaglutide 3mg; and 3kg (6.8 pounds) with dulaglutide 1.5mg.

Although overall treatment with GLP-1 receptor agonists is associated with weight loss, this varies among individuals, and 15 to 30% of people will gain weight.

People more likely to lose weight include those with a higher starting weight and a longer duration of gastrointestinal side effects.

How does Trulicity work?

Trulicity belongs to a class of medicines called GLP-1 receptor agonists. It may also be called an incretin mimetic.

Trulicity works by mimicking the functions of natural incretin hormones in the body that help keep blood sugar levels under control, especially immediately following a meal. Incretin hormones are gut peptides that are secreted from the stomach when food is eaten. They also stimulate the secretion of insulin in response to high blood glucose levels.

Two incretin hormones are known as GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) and GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1). In people with type 2 diabetes, this natural incretin effect is diminished or no longer present. However, it can be stimulated with pharmacological agents, such as Trulicity.

Trulicity shares 90% of the same structure as human GLP-1 but is man-made. It has been modified so that it can last in the body for a long time (approximately one week) and not be broken down by an enzyme naturally present in the blood, called dipeptidyl peptidase-4 or DPP-4.

Trulicity acts like GLP-1 and binds to GLP-1 receptors, stimulating insulin release from the pancreas, reducing the amount of glucose that the liver produces, and making you feel full by slowing gastric emptying.

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