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XENICAL (Orlistat)

XENICAL (Orlistat)

Orlistat 120mg is available with a prescription and is used as a weight loss support for adult individuals who have a body mass index (BMI) exceeding 30 or a BMI above 28 accompanied by certain risk factors like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. It is one of the only authorised weight loss medications in the United Kingdom. 


How does it work?

Orlistat functions by diminishing the quantity of fat assimilated by your body from the food you consume. The active component in this drug acts as a dietary fat binder, contrary to common misconceptions, it does not directly bind to the fat in your food, but instead attaches to the enzymes in your stomach responsible for fat breakdown. Orlistat specifically targets the stomach enzyme lipase, obstructing its function of breaking down and digesting certain fat molecules. Consequently, approximately one-third of the fat content in your meal remains unabsorbed and passes through your system.


How to administer Orlistat 

If your healthcare provider has prescribed this medication, it is advisable to read the Patient Information Leaflet, if available, before starting orlistat and each time you refill your prescription. Take this medication orally with liquid, following your provider’s instructions. Generally, it should be taken during or within 1 hour after each meal that contains fat, typically three times a day. If you happen to miss a meal or if your meal doesn’t contain any fat, it is recommended to skip that dose of the medication. To minimise the likelihood of experiencing unpleasant side effects, no more than 30% of your daily calorie intake must come from fat. Ensure that your fat, protein, and carbohydrate intake is evenly distributed across your three main meals.

Avoid increasing your dosage or using this medication more frequently or for a longer duration than prescribed. Doing so will not expedite your recovery and will only elevate the risk of encountering side effects. As this medication can potentially affect the absorption of certain vitamins (specifically fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K), taking a daily multivitamin supplement containing these nutrients is advisable. Take the multivitamin at least 2 hours before or after consuming orlistat (such as at bedtime).


Storing Orlistat

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
  • Keep out of the reach of children.
  • Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Potential Side Effects of Orlistat

While Orlistat is generally safe, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects before taking it, as with any medication. Understanding the possible side effects and their likelihood is crucial. 

The most frequently encountered side effects of Orlistat, affecting approximately one in 10 people, include oily or fatty faeces, oily discharge from the anus (watch out for oily spots on underwear), urgent or increased bowel movements, increased flatulence (sometimes with discharge), headaches, upper respiratory tract infections (such as colds), and stomach pains or discomfort. While these effects are generally temporary and should subside over time, it is important to consult your doctor immediately if they persist or worsen.

Less common side effects of Orlistat include softer stools, faecal incontinence, gum or teeth disorders, bloating (which is more commonly experienced by individuals with type 2 diabetes), irregular periods, fatigue, lower respiratory tract infections, and rectal pain or discomfort. If you experience any of these side effects for an extended period or if they worsen, it is recommended to seek medical advice promptly.

Rare side effects of Orlistat, although uncommon, may include cloudy, bloody, or dark urine, contagious diarrhoea, difficulty hearing or earache, increased heartbeat, painful or difficult urination, increased need to urinate, difficulty breathing or swallowing, swelling of the face, feet, or hands, hives or rash, redness on the skin, yellowed skin or eyes, and anxiety. If you encounter any of these side effects, it is important to consult your doctor immediately, regardless of their duration.

Being aware of the potential side effects and promptly seeking medical attention if needed will help ensure your safety and well-being while taking Orlistat.

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