Thursday, July 5, 2007

Alli - arguable weight loss effects

For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration approved selling a prescription-only diet aid over the counter. Although Alli has been selling quickly, its "treatment effects" are controversial.

Alli, which went on sale June 15, is half as strong as its prescribed version, Xenical, said Brian Jones, the vice president of communications for GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Alli, in an e-mail interview.

According to an Alli brochure, the active ingredient, orlistat, prevents digestion of approximately 25 percent of fat consumed. Instead, it is released as "treatment effects," including gas, frequent bowel movements and oily discharge.

Effects are reduced if the fat intake for each meal is around 15 grams and calories remain low.

If Alli is used with diet and exercise, a person can "lose about 50 percent more weight than dieting alone," the brochure says.

Sheida Guilak, Cal State Fullerton graduate and pharmacy manager of Target in Fullerton, said Alli just "might give some people a jump start [in their diet]."

Jones defended Alli when asked about its possible abuse and said GlaxoSmithKline has been candid about treatment effects.

"Post-marketing surveillance recorded shows no signal of people with eating disorders finding any appeal in Alli. If you are not eating, there is no benefit; if you are binge eating, the treatment effects would be undesirable," Jones said.

But what about nasty treatment effects?

Senior Dustin Martinez, a kinesiology major at CSUF said peers in one of his classes take diet pills similar to Alli with warnings about "anal leakage," but they say these side effects do not happen to them.

When asked if he would recommend Alli to someone trying to lose weight Martinez said he would.

"Yeah, because if they're serious about a diet and they eat a lot of fast food, they'll learn the hard way. I think it will help them regulate their diet."


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