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?