Three studies out of Australia haveshown a lower dose of orlistat, alongwith a reduced-calorie diet, may result innot only weight loss but improved lipidlevels and blood pressure. The plan is tomarket a 60-mg dose of orlistat as Alli,which would be a low-dose version ofXenical (120 mg orlistat).
The studies included 1729 overweightpeople who either followed a reducedcaloriediet alone or followed the diet inaddition to receiving 60 mg/day of orlistat.At 6 months, almost 50% of the orlistatgroup lost at least 5% of their bodyfat, compared with 26% of the diet-onlygroup. At one year, 45% of the orlistatgroup lost at least 5% of their bodyweight, compared with 29% of the dietonlygroup. Other side effects of orlistatincluded a reduction in low-densitylipoprotein cholesterol (6% comparedwith 1.5%) and blood pressures (a 4%decrease in systolic and diastolic pressurevs a 1.5% decrease in systolic and aslight increase in diastolic pressure). Thestudies also showed that the lower doseof orlistat is tolerated better than the120-mg dose.
According to researchers, gastrointestinal-related side effects caused 3%of patients to discontinue the 60-mgdose, compared with 5.4% of patientstaking the 120-mg dose. According toVidhu Bansal, PharmD, of GlaxoSmith-Kline Consumer Healthcare, the drug'smanufacturer, orlistat blocks absorptionof approximately 25% of fat and wouldmake "an excellent candidate for over-the-counter use for weight loss."
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.