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Over-the-Counter Alli

Over-the-Counter Alli


Alli is a non-prescription weight-loss medication sold by GlaxoSmithKline. According to "USA Today," it became the first over-the-counter weight loss drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While Alli is considered safe enough for you to purchase in a drugstore without a prescription, you should still consult a physician before taking Alli for weight loss.

The Pill

The drug orlistat is the active ingredient in the prescription weight-loss medication Xenical. In March, 2007, the FDA announced approval of Alli as an over-the-counter version of that drug. Alli capsules have 60mg of orlistat, half the strength of the prescription Xenical. When the FDA allowed Alli to be sold in drugstores, it stressed that it was useful only when also following a low-fat diet and exercise plan.


Alli's active ingredient, orlistat, works by blocking the absorption of some of the fat you consume, as explained in the "USA Today" article "FDA OKs First Non-Prescription Diet Pill." That fat will then pass through the body in your stool, helping you to lose more weight than you would with diet alone. It is taken with meals, up to three times a day. It is not necessary to take Alli when eating a fat-free meal.


As stressed by the Cleveland Clinic, Alli is not made for those just looking to lose a few pounds, it is for people who are obese or need to lose a significant amount of weight. It is suggested for those with a body mass index, or BMI, of more than 30. Alli is also only to be used by those over 18 years of age. It should also not be confused with other weight-loss products available over the counter, which may contain stimulants Alli does not, such as caffeine.


When asked to discuss Alli in "USA Today," then FDA Director of Non-prescription Products Charles Ganley stressed that the drug is unlikely to help those who don't follow an exercise program and a low-fat diet. The over-the-counter drug is also not recommended for patients taking certain medications, like cyclosporine or warfarin, or those with thyroid disease. Discuss your medical history with a health care professional before taking Alli.


There have been some cases of liver injuries in those taking Xenical and Alli. The FDA has warned that they appear to be traced to the drug's key ingredient, orlistat. Some of these problems have been severe. If you take either medication and notice a loss of appetite, yellowing of the eyes or skin, stomach pains, light-colored stools or any other unusual symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

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