A popular diet pill is under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration. When orlistat was first introduced in 1999 it almost seemed too good to be true. This drug, known by the brand name Xenical, blocks the absorption of dietary fat from the digestive tract. Fat provides more calories per ounce than other foods, so this seemed like a wonderful way to have your cake and still lose weight. Certain side effects such as gas and oily discharge were widely publicized and provided grist for stand-up comics. But these embarrassing side effects did not keep the FDA from approving orlistat for over-the-counter sale as Alli in 2007.
Now the agency is taking a second look at the safety of orlistat. More than 30 cases of serious liver injury have been reported to FDA’s MedWatch program, and 6 patients using this drug have experienced life-threatening liver failure. The FDA has not yet determined if the drug is responsible, and it has not changed its recommendations for either prescription or over-the-counter use of orlistat. But it will be considering whether a warning is warranted for this weight loss drug.

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  1. EC

    Maintaining a proper diet and exercise regime will always be a better choice to weight loss than drugs…

  2. SSM

    In reply to FLD, it seems like we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place on this argument, because plenty of animal trials are done, during which some side effects may not show up – it is only natural, since we are not the exact same as the animals that are tested. However if we were to know all of the side effects of the drugs beforehand as they would occur in humans, as of right now, it looks like we would have to do excessive human trials before putting the drugs on the market. And I am pretty sure that not many people would volunteer themselves into such a dangerous position, not to mention that the public would not be very happy with that idea either.
    Maybe in the future we will have a technology that will be able to predict such information so that real humans will not have to be tested on, and maybe that way animals won’t be tested on either.

  3. FLD

    Unfortunately this seems to be common with a lot of drugs. They get approved and then down the road after millions of people have used them, we discover they do more harm than good. Maintaining a proper diet and exercise regime will always be a better choice to weight loss than drugs… in my humble opinion.

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