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What Is Tepezza (teprotumumab)?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: September 2023

Tepezza® (teprotumumab) is a drug used for the treatment of thyroid eye disease (TED). It is a drug known as an insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor inhibitor.1

What are the ingredients in Tepezza?

The active ingredient of Tepezza is teprotumumab.1

How does Tepezza work?

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ located in your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. This gland secretes thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones play an important role in nearly every body function. The thyroid directly impacts metabolism, or the speed at which your body cells work.2,3

If your thyroid makes too much of a hormone called thyroxine, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) results. Insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R) is a protein that is connected to the thyroid hormone. Too much thyroxine activates the IGF-1R protein. This leads to the growth of muscle, fat, and connective tissue cells around the eyes. Too much growth of these cells causes the symptoms of TED.3

Tepezza works by blocking the IGF-1R receptor so it cannot turn on. By blocking IGF-1R, Tepezza decreases the muscle, fat, and connective tissue swelling that is common in TED. This improves symptoms of TED, including:4

  • Bulging eyes
  • Double vision
  • Eye pain, redness, and swelling

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of Tepezza include:1,4

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  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Hearing problems
  • Changes in taste
  • Headache
  • Dry skin
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)

Other side effects may include:1,4

  • Infusion reactions
  • Worsening of existing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

These are not all the possible side effects of Tepezza. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking Tepezza. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking Tepezza.

Other things to know

Tepezza is given by intravenous infusion (IV). This means a needle is placed in your arm and a small tube (catheter) is inserted to deliver the drug.4

The amount of Tepezza given to you is based on how much you weigh at the time of your IV infusion.4

You will receive 1 infusion of Tepezza every 3 weeks, for 8 total infusions. This means Tepezza treatment lasts about 5 months.4

The time it takes for each infusion will vary. Your first 2 infusions will last about 90 minutes. The remaining infusions may only take 1 hour, but these can take up to 90 minutes depending on your reaction to Tepezza.4

Infusion reactions can happen during or within 24 hours of your Tepezza dose. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:4

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Feeling hot
  • Redness of your face
  • Trouble breathing
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain

If you have a reaction, your doctor or nurse will slow or stop Tepezza. If your reaction is severe, you may not be able to take Tepezza.4

There are people whose bodies fight against laboratory-made antibodies. This can make Tepezza ineffective. It also may cause an allergic response or harmful side effects. Doctors cannot predict who will end up with this type of response.5

Tepezza is given in an infusion center located at:4

  • The hospital
  • Your doctor’s office
  • An infusion center

You may be able to get your infusions at home, depending on your insurance coverage. The cost of Tepezza can be high. Your medical insurance may need extra paperwork in order to approve the costs. Talk to your doctor to help guide you.

Before starting Tepezza, you will need to have different tests and monitoring. These include:4

  • A full pre-treatment eye exam
  • Blood sugar testing – Tepezza can increase your blood sugar. Your blood sugar will be checked before and during Tepezza treatment. Make sure and tell your doctor if you have diabetes.
  • Other tests – If you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), your doctor may want to make sure it is under control before you start Tepezza. Tepezza can worsen IBD symptoms.
  • If you are a woman of childbearing age, you may need to take a pregnancy test before starting Tepezza.

Tepezza can harm an unborn baby. If you or your partner can become pregnant, you should use birth control during treatment and for some time after the last dose of Tepezza. It is not known if Tepezza passes into breast milk. Talk to your doctor about your options for birth control and breastfeeding while taking Tepezza.1,4

The company that makes Tepezza has a program for those who take it. The Horizon Patient Services program gives you access to a personal Patient Access Liaison (PAL), who will help you navigate your insurance and treatment process. Talk to your doctor about this program. You can also call 1-833-583-7399 for more information.4

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Tepezza.