UK NEWS: WARNING OVER SLIMMING PILL
Saturday March 6,2010
By Victoria Fletcher
A MAJOR health alert has been issued over an anti-obesity pill that hundreds of thousands of us are buying over the counter with no prescription.
Drug safety watchdogs fear the slimming tablet Alli could trigger a raft of issues, including pancreatitis, kidney stones, liver problems or severe fits in people with epilepsy.
New figures show there have been 31 reported cases of adverse reactions since it went on sale at high street pharmacies in January 2009.
The pills were an overnight success. The overweight could get hold of them for just £50 a month, without the humiliation of having a full consultation with their GP.
But now the evidence against Alli – generic name orlistat – appears to be growing.
The 31 adverse reactions include palpitations, tummy problems and swollen tongues.
Patients taking a common drug to treat thyroid problems are also being told to seek advice from a doctor because the medicines could interact badly.
Since diarrhoea is a common side-effect, women are warned it could lessen the effectiveness of the contraceptive Pill.
US health watchdogs are investigating links to liver disease, though European researchers disagree.
The UK’s drugs safety watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority, is now insisting that new warnings are added to packets of Alli following a review by the EU Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use.
Alli works by stopping the body from absorbing fat.
For every 2lb patients lose through diet and exercise, it can increase weight loss by another 1lb.
For over a decade the slimming “wonder pill” could only be prescribed to the seriously obese by GPs. But then the dosage was halved from 120mg to 60mg, allowing pharmacists to sell it.
They are required to question patients before they sell them the pills. Those already on medication for diabetes, high cholesterol and abnormal heart rhythm are told to seek advice from a GP.
But Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said there was concern that although most pharmacists would check that patients were fit to take Alli, junior staff might not.
She urged anyone taking it to consult their pharmacist or GP.
Last night the manufacturers, GlaxoSmithKline, said: “The update to the label for Alli expands the information available to consumers and healthcare professionals to help facilitate product use.
“Consumers can be reassured that orlistat, the active ingredient in Alli, is the most studied weight-loss medicine, with a safety profile established through 100 clinical studies with over 30,000 patients.”
In January, European regulators said another anti-obesity drug, Reductil, should be withdrawn over fears it could increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Other articles regarding Alli can be found on Natural Health News.