The American Academy of Pediatrics has passed down the okay for people as young as 12 to be prescribed weight-loss medicines. Meanwhile, authorization of the injectable diabetes drug Mounjaro to be prescribed for the separate purpose of weight loss looks like a pretty sure bet. In that eventuality, it will be legal to prescribe Mounjaro (the only medication that contains tirzepatide) to obese young teens.
If tirzepatide is authorized for weight loss under that trade name or another, there will be a big push to make it available without a prescription, which could easily happen. If grownups are allowed to buy it over the counter, chances are it will find its way into the hands of kids, just as surely as cigarettes and beer have been accustomed to do.
Whether the route is legal, semi-legal, or downright black market, and whatever name it goes by, the substance will still be tirzepatide. The previous post mentioned some of the mental and emotional problems that can arise, especially when it is obtained with a prescription, but for “off-label” use, namely, weight loss. It can cause side effects, including the whole slew of symptoms that show up if a person’s blood sugar gets too low.
The potential for allergic reaction always exists, in addition to the enormous realm of possible interactions with other prescription medicines the patient might be taking. Some rogue substances, like grapefruit juice, can really mess things up, and patients need to be aware.
The standards of pharmacovigilance demand that information on a medication’s side effects (more formally known as adverse events) be collected during the testing phases and also after the release of the drug for use by the public. Predicting the statistical frequency of various side effects is a field of study in itself, and necessary to risk-benefit assessment, but we won’t go that far into it here.
Sometimes an adjusted dose or a change of medication can make life easier for a patient, but often the troublesome side effects just have to be endured for the sake of the greater good — the hope of retaining health.
This is where the door opens to a lot of problems. Many people take weight-loss drugs in pursuit of the general goal of improved health. If a pill or injection bugs them too much, they have the good sense to back off and try another modality. But obesity is such an emotionally and societally fraught condition, it causes many other people to have a heavy emotional investment in the outcome. For an adult, the fear may be that if they don’t lose weight, divorce will follow. For a younger person, popularity (or at least, not being scorned) at school might be the goal.
A person with a heavy emotional investment in a certain goal can make a lot of mistakes. It is one thing to endure unpleasant side effects while trying to recover from cancer. But to put up with awful sensations and incidents for the sake of shallow and fleeting approval from immature peers, that’s a whole different story.
All that was by way of introduction. The next post will get down to the nitty-gritty, in the matter of tirzepatide side effects.
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Image by Neale Bryan/CC BY-SA 2.0