Three studies out of Australia have shown a lower dose of orlistat, along with a reduced-calorie diet, may result in not only weight loss but improved lipid levels and blood pressure. The plan is to market a 60-mg dose of orlistat as Alli, which would be a low-dose version of Xenical (120 mg orlistat).
The studies included 1729 overweight people who either followed a reducedcalorie diet alone or followed the diet in addition to receiving 60 mg/day of orlistat. At 6 months, almost 50% of the orlistat group lost at least 5% of their body fat, compared with 26% of the diet-only group. At one year, 45% of the orlistat group lost at least 5% of their body weight, compared with 29% of the dietonly group. Other side effects of orlistat included a reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (6% compared with 1.5%) and blood pressures (a 4% decrease in systolic and diastolic pressure vs a 1.5% decrease in systolic and a slight increase in diastolic pressure). The studies also showed that the lower dose of orlistat is tolerated better than the 120-mg dose.
According to researchers, gastrointestinal-related side effects caused 3% of patients to discontinue the 60-mg dose, compared with 5.4% of patients taking the 120-mg dose. According to Vidhu Bansal, PharmD, of GlaxoSmith- Kline Consumer Healthcare, the drug's manufacturer, orlistat blocks absorption of approximately 25% of fat and would make "an excellent candidate for over-the-counter use for weight loss."
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.
One study linked multiple pregnancies to an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation later in life, and another investigated the association between premature delivery and cardiovascular disease.
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