Alli, a drug with the active ingredient orlistat, was first introduced into U.S. markets in 1999 under the brand name Xenical as a prescription weight-loss medication. Alli was approved by the FDA for over-the-counter use in 2007.
Unlike other weight-loss medications that work to reduce appetite and increase metabolism, orlistat promotes weight loss by minimizing the body's absorption of fat. This approach has proven to help patients absorb around 25-30% less fat from the food they consume. In clinical trials, patients taking Alli reported an average loss of 13.4 pounds over the course of a year, as opposed to 5.8 pounds for the control (placebo) group.
Manufactured and sold by GlaxoSmithKline, Alli is sold as a weight-loss system, with diet, exercise, and behavioral recommendations for losing weight. With the purchase of the startup "system," patients have access to weight-loss resources, as well as the medication itself.
Adverse Effects Related to Alli
- Hives, blisters, rashes, and itching
- Chronic and acute intestinal damage/conditions
- Extreme fatigue and weakness
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Severe stomach pain
Along with Questionable Efficacy, Alli has Been Linked to Serious Liver Damage
In 2006, health researchers Dr. Sidney Wolfe and Elizabeth Barbehenn from Public Citizen testified before the FDA to oppose the transition of orlistat from prescription to OTC. In their plea to the FDA, Wolfe and Barbehenn cited the severe intestinal damage linked to orlistat and challenged the methodology of reducing healthy fat intake as an appropriate approach to weight loss.
"The diet and exercise program advocated by the Alli marketing team is great. In fact, the only thing wrong with the Alli program and packaging is the drug itself, which is unsafe, ineffective and overpriced. The FDA's decision to approve this drug for over-the-counter sale was reckless." – Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen
Alli patients are advised to take a multi-vitamin due to the loss of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and beta carotene. Our bodies respond best when we're able to consume these nutrients naturally through a healthy, balanced diet. Alli patients also experience unexpected discharge or spotting and often experience fecal urgency while taking Alli. These side effects can significantly impact their quality of life.