Tuesday, July 7, 2009

WARNING: Alli diet pills (orlistat): 31 side effects reported, liver damage concerns

RealSelf.com blog

Alli weight loss program being investigated

The heavily marketed diet program Alli may be worse than not worth it. Since April the UK's regulatory agency (MHRA), has received 31 reports of side effects linked to orlistat (the active ingredient in Alli).

GlaxoSmithKline chooses to call Alli side effects "treatment effects", which include headaches, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, depression and fatigue.

More seriously, the UK Mail reports Alli is being investigated for causing liver damage.

Alli users on the Alli web community (allicircles) complained as far back as 2007 of elevated liver enzymes. For instance, FiolaKitty states :

My doctor still thinks it's the alli. We're gonna test my liver with me being off of it for a month. I was researching fatty liver and a possible cure is losing weight and lowering your cholesterol. Obviously Alli is helping me with that, but I've learned enough to do it without the pill.

Potential liver problems caught allicircles community member itslisa75 by surprise, having learned from the web--not GlaxoSmithKline--that her problem could be an Alli side effect:

I recently had my yearly blood work done only to have it returned telling me my liver enzymes are elevated. After going for a ultrasound and a second round of blood work, I read on the web that elevated enzymes is a possible side effect.. Holy cow! I had no clue. Has this happened to anyone else? Since this is the only thing I've been doing different sadly I am stopping Alli and will recheck my enzyme levels in four months. A big disapoinment as Alli has worked for me.

As recent as January, an Alli community moderator stated that Alli "Orlistat, the active ingredient in alli, is believed to be metabolized in the intestinal walls and will not affect the liver."

Alli Side Effects

In clinical studies, common side effects of Alli included stomach pain, gas, oily spotting, and diarrhea. Fortunately, side effects can be controlled (if not avoided altogether) by watching the amount of fat you eat. Most people tolerate the drug without problems. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience serious side effects, such as kidney stones, severe stomach pain, or signs of an allergic reaction.

Common Side Effects of Alli

Alli is a non-prescription weight loss drug. With prescription medications, the manufacturers must provide "prescribing information" that includes detailed information about side effects. However, such information is not available for most non-prescription medications, including Alli.
Based on information submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order for Alli to be approved, the following side effects were commonly reported in clinical studies:
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain) -- in up to 20.1 percent of people
  • Fecal urgency (an urgent but controlled need to have a bowel movement) -- up to 18.8 percent
  • Gas -- up to 18.6 percent
  • Oily spotting (uncontrolled anal oil seepage) -- up to 17.7 percent
  • Gas with a small amount of oil or stool -- up to 17.2 percent
  • Fatty or oily stool -- up to 17.2 percent
  • Diarrhea-- up to 11.9 percent
  • Oily evacuation (bowel movements of just oil, without stool) -- up to 11.6 percent
  • Sinus infection -- up to 10.6 percent
  • Soft stool -- up to 10.1 percent.
Other common side effects of Alli (occurring in 3 to 10 percent of people) included:
  • Increased frequency of bowel movements
  • Uncontrolled, spontaneous bowel movements (known as fecal incontinence)
  • Back pain.

Many of these problems that affect the digestive tract can be avoided or reduced by decreasing the amount of fat in your diet. Because Alli decreases the absorption of fat, more fat stays in the digestive tract, causing many of the bothersome (and sometimes embarrassing) side effects. You are more likely to experience these side effects if you eat too much fat. As you continue to take the medication, you will learn how different foods and different amounts of fat will affect you. If you have consumed a meal that is high in fat and have taken Alli, you may want to prepare for possible negative effects.

Serious Side Effects

There are a number of Alli side effects that you should report immediately to your healthcare provider. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Kidney Stones
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Gallbladder disease (or worsening of preexisting gallbladder disease)
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, including unexplained rash, hives, itching, unexplained swelling, wheezing, or difficulty breathing or swallowing.

Final Thoughts

You may experience some or none of the side effects listed in this article. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell if any particular side effect (such as nausea) is caused by Alli or by other factors. Therefore, make sure to let your healthcare provider know if you develop any side effects while taking the drug. Also, let your healthcare provider know if you develop something that "just does not seem right." While the issue may not be due to an Alli side effect, your healthcare provider will be able to diagnose and treat the problem.

source: weight-loss.emedtv.com