Wednesday, January 20, 2010

If You Don't Need to Poo, Your Weight Loss Drug Might Be Fake

Caveat emptor: The Consumerist reports that counterfeit versions of Alli -- an over-the-counter weight loss drug -- are being sold online.

Alli, a reduced-strength version of orlistat, a prescription drug used to treat obesity, works by "decreasing absorption of fat by the intestines, which reduces the number of calories you absorb." Orlistat, however, has a number of serious poo-related side effects, including:
  • Urgent need to defecate
  • Gas with an oily anal discharge (known colloqually as "sharting")
  • Loose stools or diarrhea
  • More frequent bowel movements
  • Hard-to-control bowel movements
Meanwhile, the fake version of Alli contains another weight loss drug altogether: sibutramine, which helps to boost satiety. In other words, it's supposed to make you feel full. Unfortunately, sibutramine is a controlled substance that's been linked to cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure. Additionally:

The FDA also warns that "sibutramine is a drug that should not be used in certain patient populations or without physician oversight. Sibutramine can also interact in a harmful way with other medications the consumer may be taking."
Explosive diarrhea is (marginally) more appealing than suffering a heart attack, but not surprisingly, the best choice may be to ditch Alli altogether. According to the Mayo Clinic:

Alli can help you lose weight, but the weight loss likely won't be great — perhaps just a few pounds more than you would lose with diet and exercise alone. Only a small number of studies have evaluated the effectiveness of Alli. And many of the weight-loss estimates are based on studies conducted on its prescription-strength counterpart, Xenical.

The average weight loss for prescription-strength Xenical is modest — about 6 pounds greater than diet and exercise alone after one year. So at half the strength, Alli could conceivably result in an average of 3 pounds lost in a year in addition to the approximately 8 pounds you could expect to lose from diet and exercise alone.
No contest: I'll gladly take three pounds over a full year of uncontrollable shitting.