New Diet Pill May Become Available Over the Counter

Orlistat may be the best thing since sliced bread, especially for those struggling to maintain a low-carb lifestyle. Orlistat, a new diet pill may become available to consumers over the counter.

The Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee voted 11-3 to recommend approval of the drug.

The FDA has yet to make a final decision on this issue. Usually a study by outside experts is performed, therefore the final decision could take months. If passed, Orlistat could be the first FDA approved weight loss pill to be sold over the counter.

Sandra Alexander, a freshman majoring in physical therapy at Spellman College, suggests this is a bad idea. “Diet pills are a quick fix and often fail. I think this new drug will do more harm then good.”

In a six-month clinical trial, obese people who took Orlistat lost on average 5.3 pounds to 6.2 pounds more than those who were given a placebo.

GlaxoSmithKline, the creator of Orlistat, suggested use of the drug in six month increments, but as an over the counter item, the use suggestions could not be assured. Glaxo said the drug helps the overweight slim down only when combined with a diet and exercise regimen.

The drug’s actual effect on weight loss is “gradual and modest,” said Glaxo Vice-President of Weight Control Steve Burton, according to MSNBC.

The weight loss pill could cost consumers $12 to $25 a week, Glaxo said. The company estimated 5 million to 6 million Americans a year would buy the drug if offered over the counter. Those numbers could mean at least $1.5 billion a year in retail sales.

To be taken with food, Orlistat blocks almost one-quarter of fat consumed during the meal. About 150 to 200 calories can be avoided in your daily caloric consumption when food is passed through and out the body. Side effects include gas and incontinence.

About half of patients in trials experienced such side effects, the company said.

Julie Thompson, a senior majoring in English at Howard University, feels this is a positive and beneficial new innovation.

“I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember, if this new pill works I would be thrilled,” she said.

Obesity specialist Dr. Judith Korner of NY Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center said Jan. 24 on the Today Show of NBC that the people who would benefit the most from this pill are “20 or 30 pounds over weight [and] this would be good for you along with changing your behavior.”

Studies show this is not a magic pill and you can not just take the pill and wake up thin. Dr. Korner suggests those who still choose to eat high-fat diets and just use the pill could untimely have more side effects and increase the chance of possibly regaining the weight.

“Many people do not realize how hard weight loss can be for some people. I do eat less and exercise, yet I would love a little something extra to help me reach my ultimate goal,”said Thompson.