Xenical, New Weight Loss Drug...Online!

The process of testing and then approving a new drug can be quite different from the marketing of that drug after it has been released. The new fat-blocking drug orlistat (Xenical) provides a case in point.

On April 26, 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had approved orlistat (Xenical), "a new drug to treat obesity," noting that "orlistat is the first drug in a new class of non-systemically acting anti-obesity drugs known as lipase inhibitors." The FDA statement read, in part, as follows:

"Unlike other obesity drugs, orlistat prevents enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract from breaking down dietary fats into smaller molecules that can be absorbed by the body. Absorption of fat is decreased by about 30 percent. Since undigested triglycerides are not absorbed, the reduced caloric intake may have a positive effect on weight control."
"The recommended dose of orlistat is one capsule with each main meal that includes fat. During treatment, the patient should be on a nutritionally balanced, reduced-calorie diet that contains no more than 30 percent of calories from fat. Orlistat is indicated for obese patients with a body mass index (BMI, a measure of weight in relation to height), of 30 or more, or for patients with a BMI of 27 or more who also have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. A person who is 55" in height and weighs 180 pounds would have a BMI of 30."
"Because orlistat reduces the absorption of some fat-soluble vitamins and beta carotene, patients should take a supplement that contains fat soluble (A, D, E, and K) vitamins and beta carotene. The most common side effects of orlistat are oily spotting, gas with discharge, fecal urgency, fatty/oily stools and frequent bowel movements."