There's a new medication that's been dubbed the 'Godzilla' of weight loss.

If you know anything about Ozempic, you'll know we're on the cusp of a weight loss drug 'revolution'. Previously used only in the social circles of Hollywood, the diabetes medication has gone mainstream and swiftly become more in demand than ever before. 

Originally developed for people with diabetes, the drug is now widely used off-label for weight loss. To meet overwhelming demand, the weekly injectable is now slowly multiplying under different manufacturers, with pharmaceutical companies scrambling to become part of the big (money) race.

Recently, brands like Wegovy, Mounjaro and Reybelsus have cropped up among others. And it's only just the beginning. 

The newest contender on the scene? A drug called Retatrutide — and it's been dubbed by scientists as the 'Godzilla' of weight loss injections.

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Not only is it being hailed as a more effective weight loss solution than the famous drugs that've come before it, but it's also claiming to offer other potential benefits for health problems such as liver disease.


Recent studies have shown the treatment had a 20 per cent reduction in "bad" cholesterol, which is double that of other weight loss injections currently on the market.

Clinical trials in the US have also showed that higher doses of the new drug reduced fat levels in the liver by more than 80 per cent. With Type 2 diabetes increasing the risk of liver disease, these findings have been seen as particularly significant.

How does Retatrutide work?

In short, Retatrutide works by suppressing appetite and speeding up the body's metabolism so it burns more fat. While its predecessors have been successful in weight loss and diabetes management, this new-generation drug can be seen as offering a more comprehensive approach, working faster and more effectively than its competitors.

"Retatrutide is basically Mounjaro but turbocharged," Professor Alexander Miras, an obesity expert at Ulster University, explained to The Times. "What glucagon does is it increases energy expenditure — the amount of energy that you burn."

"There are two mechanisms; decreasing food intake and increasing energy expenditure. Up until now all of the medications have just focused on reducing food intake."

In a clinical trial, it was found people with obesity shed an average of up to 24 per cent of their body weight (nearly 27 kgs) after 48 weeks of treatment.

"It is striking that on average, participants with obesity taking the highest dose of retatrutide lost nearly a quarter of their body weight," said the lead study author Ania Jastreboff, MD, phD, an associate professor and the director of Yale Obesity Research Center in a statement.


But just how safe is it? And is the availability of more weight loss drugs necessarily a good thing?

What are the side effects of Retatrutide?

The catch? When it comes to the long-term side effects, the medication is still in clinical trials — so there's a lot we still don't know. 

Similar to drugs like Ozempic, we know some of the main side effects of this new medication include things like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. 

For drugs like Ozempic, once you stop injecting the medication, it stops working — it's something of an indefinite prescription. With retatrutide, the impact on patients habits isn't quite clear yet.

There's also little evidence yet as to whether retatrutide will also cause other significant negative side effects seen with other drugs — such as pancreatitis, bowel obstruction and gastroparesis.

As any medical expert will tell you, knowing about the 'long term' side effects of any of these weight loss drugs is difficult — most of these drugs have been studied in particular groups of people who meet a particular criteria. Meaning? The evidence in how these drugs will affect patients long-term is still lacking.

In fact, as weight loss medication becomes more widely used, we're beginning to see underlying issues we couldn't see before. Not just physically, but mentally, too. And in 2024, we've only just begun to scratch the surface. 


For example, it was recently reported there was a possible correlation with the use of weight loss drugs and thoughts of suicide and self-harm. While a recent US study has not identified a causal link between taking these drugs and an increase in suicidal thoughts, the FDA has listed it as a potential safety signal. 

Together with this, reports of women getting pregnant on weight loss medication, despite being on birth control or previously having fertility issues. 'Ozempic babies' are so common, the manufacturers of various weight loss medication have now set up a registry for patients to share data on their pregnancy experience.

When is Retatrutide available in Australia?

The short answer: not anytime soon.

This drug is still in development and Eli Lilly, the American company manufacturing retatrutide, is in the process of conducting further trials. These studies will assess everything from how much more weight users can actually lose to what kind of side effects patients might experience with longer term use.

Following the publication of these results in 2026, if the drug is then approved it could be available for prescription in the next three years.

In a statement, the manufacturer's chief medical and scientific officer, said: "These phase two data have given us confidence to further explore the potential of retatrutide in phase three trials that will look beyond weight reduction and focus on treating obesity and its complications comprehensively."


What are other alternatives to Ozempic?

In Australia there are two main brands of semaglutide medication leading the pack — one, a lower dosage being used as "off label". The other, a higher dosage that is theoretically (but not practically) available in Australia.

Due to the increasing demand, people are now turning to the internet to source alternative options from compounding pharmacies, who are selling their own versions of the medications and sending them to consumers with a prescription.

If this sounds alarming, that's because it is. 

As Australian GP and author of Fake Medicine, Dr Brad McKay, told Mamamia, "I try not to create too many rules to live my life by, but one of them is “Don’t inject drugs made in a thermomix." 

In an interview with ABC News, TGA chief medical advisor, adjunct professor Robyn Langham, explained the regulator's concerns.

"What's happening, we believe, is that there is a large amount of product being developed in anticipation of medications being prescribed and that's not consistent with the exemption under the Therapeutic Goods Act." 

"The exemptions clearly state that the pharmacist can produce an individual product for an individual patient once prescription has been received."


Recently, Federal Health Minister Mark Butler announced his government will ban compounding pharmacists from making replica versions of weight loss drugs.

Professor Michael Cowley, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute obesity and diabetes expert said, "I support this change because the compounded versions are similar to, but not the same as, the clinically tested and approved drugs. The compounded versions have not been clinically tested in the same rigorous way as the approved versions have."

"The production facilities of the compounded versions are not inspected for safety in the same way as the manufacturing facilities of the approved versions are. The safety of the compounded versions has not been clinically tested.

"In short, we cannot be sure that the compounded versions are as safe and effective as the approved versions, and there is no adverse event tracking of the compounded medicines."

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or email 

You can also visit their website, here.

What are your thoughts on the latest in weight loss injectables? Share with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Getty

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