Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

Orlistat has been approved for over-the-counter usage, and it makes me nervous. It blocks fat absorption, so the thinking goes that if you donít absorb the fat, and therefore the calories, youíll lose weight.

Under the brand name Xenical, this drug didnít do very well, for a variety of reasons. It boosted weight loss by about 10%, which isnít much, in my opinion. And, since the fat you eat has to go somewhere, Ďoily dischargeí was reported by a number of people. The other side of that is, of course, if you eat a low fat diet, there wonít be as much fat to discharge, if you get my meaning.

But, bottom line, is it a good idea to make a drug that didnít work well as a prescription available to the general public with no supervision?

You can tell Iím not happy about this, canít you. We all know and understand how easy it is to say Ďjust eat less and exercise more,í yet we all know how hard it can be. We can accept the concept of tools that help us. After all, surgery is a tool. But no responsible physician would perform gastric bypass surgery on someone with 10 pounds to lose, or on a normal-sized person who asked for it because they feared gaining weight.

But going through all the side effects for the possibility of an extra 10% weight loss? Doesnít make sense to me, but letís face it: weight loss surgery doesnít make sense to a lot of people, either!

On the other hand, we are so hungry for an effective weight loss pill Ė rightly or wrongly Ė that we reach out for anything that might help. Orlistat isnít the same as ma huang, which never went through clinical trials. In this case, there have been clinical trials, we know what the side effects are, and we know how it works and what it does. Itís a step in the right direction, at least in the sense that we know what to expect. But is this the right thing to do?

10 thoughts on “Doing the right thing – drugwise

  1. jonquil says:

    We need one more trial before approval. We get a bunch of K Street operatives from Big Pharma together with their FDA buddies, sit them down in their favorite Beltway restaurant, feed them Orlistat, and “gift” them all with a nice rich lunch.

    And hide the washroom key.

  2. Mercury says:

    I haven’t heard anything about this, but it seems like a nice enough idea to me. I remember the big brouhaha over Olestra, and nothing awful happened there. I ate those chips every so often without ill effects. Are they still on the market?

    This seems like it might be a good idea if you’re on the road and know you can’t get healthy food. And are willing to get the runs instead, I guess.

    What is ma huang?

  3. h says:

    I agree with everything you said, Jane.

    For me the central question is: “What is the role of the FDA”? Is it simply to keep harmful drugs away from consumers, or is it to ensure that only helpful drugs are available? Orlistat seems to fall in that wasteland between harmful and helpful. It’s almost a question of economics and politics than health.

    Quick and easy answers are what everyone wants, but we all know they don’t exist. But humanity keeps looking for them anyway. :/

  4. sara says:

    I did not realize that it was going to be over the counter. This is not good at all.

    I had an Aunt that took it. The thing is she would have had the same results if she did not eat the fatty foods. Which she did stop eating because of the oily discharge.

    What she ended up paying for was a more urgent reason not to eat the fatty foods. Rather than it is healthier to do so.

    People will blindly counter this with milk of magnesia… no. not good at all.

  5. contessa says:

    I think that the general public likes the idea of something that was once prescription only is now over the counter.

    I can’t use NutriSweet or Splenda without getting a headache so I stay away from anything that has side effects. I guess that just leaves staying away from bad fats and too many calories for me.

    Ma huang is the Chinese herbal name for ephredra.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Here’s my two cents. We become overweight because we take in more energy (in the form of food) than our bodies can use (in the form of our heart beating). So unless the drug we’re taking affects HOW MUCH FOOD WE CHOOSE TO EAT, its not really going to be very helpful. Personally, I want my body to digest everything I put into it!

    I despair for (yet can completely relate to) those people who want a drug that allows them to eat ANY AMOUNT of food and not gain weight. Let’s face it, what goes in, has to either be consumed, or expelled.

    Yuck.

  7. Deirdre says:

    If I understand what I have read correctly. Users lose an average of six pounds over a period of one year and have to wear adult diapers because they are not even aware of the leakage when it happens. For six measly pounds! Not in this lifetime.

  8. Mercury says:

    Is it really that dramatic, though? I mean, I’m sure it is for some people. But I remember the dire warnings about Olestra, and I certainly didn’t need to wear diapers when I ate those chips. It was barely noticible.

    As for taking the “easy” way out – I think people look for that because if it exists, it’s um, easier, and therefore makes more sense. People were very wary of anti-depressants when they came out because they were assumed to turn the users into grinning, drooling automatons. I think they’re generally considered a practical approach to mood disorders now.

    Of course, often people look for an easy way, and it turns out that it doesn’t work. We don’t seem to have a miracle weight-loss pill yet. But you better believe if they find it, I’m going to be taking it!

  9. london slimmer says:

    My husband, who works in medical research, has commented that some of the science behind these weight-loss pills is decidedly second-rate. He’s not an expert on this, but it does seem to me that the evidence that they are actually effective for long-term weight loss is usually lacking or questionable and they do hold the possibility of serious side effects and of long-term damage (most haven’t been tested for long-term use, or for use by those who are not clinically obese). Just because something is available over the counter doesn’t make it safe. Laxatives of all kinds are available over the counter and can certainly promote temporary weight loss, but my GP tells me that the abuse of laxatives is one of the most common causes of bowel cancer. I know that when you’re overweight getting thin can seem like the only important thing – but, believe me, your health is more important. Ellen Ruppel Shell has written a provocative book called Fat Wars: The Story of the Obesity Industry which might get you thinking about the politics and economics behind obesity drugs. For more on the medical side of things, I’d recommend Medline (and a chat with your own doctor).

  10. Connie says:

    I think that if people choose to buy Orlistat and use it to lose weight (hopefully responsibly) it is their body and their choice.
    What about the girls with anorexia or bulimia? Laxatives have been used, what will this drug do? People have died from abusing their bodies to lose weight, how will giving them this drug to use help them? In fact, it is a fact that many women that are treated for bulimia or anorxia and “get better” often relapse.
    I have to feel that something I take must have a medical reason. And losing weight for me isn’t one, not in the sense of something like inherited problems (although I have a siginificant amount to lose).
    I guess I’m saying the same thing, why are they doing this?

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