Feature Articles: Weight Control
FDA Approved a New Over the Counter Diet Pill
Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD,
Health Education Specialist in
The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved a diet drug for over the counter sales. The drug, alli, taken with meals works by blocking 25 percent of the fat the person eats.
Alli is not a new drug. It is currently a prescription drug orlistat marketed as Xenical, which has been available since 1999. When alli becomes available next summer, it will be sold in 60 milligram capsules. Xenical is sold in 120 milligram doses. The expected cost of alli is $1 - $3 a day.
We, as Americans seem to need and want a quick fix for everything. We currently spend around one-billion dollars per year on herbal formulas and other supplements that have no proven effectiveness. While this pill has proven effectiveness, is not a quick fix. This over-the-counter drug is intended for people over the age of 18 and should be used with a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet and exercise. When tested in clinical trials people taking Xenical lost an additional two to three pounds over the five pounds lost with just diet and exercise.
The drug is not without side effects. The most common side effect is a change in bowel habits which can include loose stools and oily spotting. Consuming a low-fat diet helps decrease these side effects. People who have had an organ transplant should not take alli because of possible drug interactions. If you take blood-thinning medications, or have diabetes or thyroid disease, you should consult your physician before taking alli.
Alli is considered safe if used as directed. That includes consuming meals that have only about 15 grams of fat per meal. An eight-ounce glass of whole milk has around 8 grams of fat, two tablespoons of peanut butter has 16 grams of fat, one egg has about five grams of fat and one 3 1/2 ounce extra lean ground beef patty has about 16 grams of fat. Because the drug can reduce the absorption of some vitamins, a multi-vitamin is recommended with use of alli.
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009