XENICAL: Costs, Side Effects and Weight Loss Results

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Are thinking about taking XENICAL (orlistat) for weight loss? The diet pill is available by prescription only and has been used successfully by many dieters to lose weight. But the weight loss medication doesn't work for everyone.  So before you invest, learn about XENICAL costs and side effects. Then talk to your doctor about whether the diet medication is right for you.


The medication in XENICAL is orlistat, the same medication that is in alli®, a popular over-the-counter diet pill.

But since XENICAL contains a higher dose of orlistat (120 mg), it is available by prescription only. This means that you'll need to visit with your doctor before you begin taking it.  XENICAL may be prescribed for patients with a BMI of 30 or over or for those with a BMI of 27 and who also have a weight-related risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes

Orlistat helps you to lose weight by blocking the absorption of fat.  When you take orlistat before a meal, your body absorbs approximately 25% less fat from your food. The excess fat is then removed from the body in your stool.  But this doesn't mean that patients taking XENICAL can eat fatty foods. In fact, if you use the diet pill must follow a low-calorie, low-fat meal plan or you may suffer from uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing side effects.

XENICAL Side Effects

Many patients who use XENICAL experience changes to their bowel habits.

  Side effects usually decrease with time, but eating a meal that contains more than 30% of calories from fat can make the side effects more severe.

XENICAL side effects may include oily or loose stool, an urgent need to go to the bathroom, oily spotting on your underwear, gas, stomach pain and difficulty controlling your bowel movements.

Side effects are generally experienced within the first few weeks of taking the pill. If these side effects continue beyond that point, you should talk to your doctor.

You should also talk to your doctor about other physical changes that you notice while taking XENICAL. More serious side effects may include liver problems, kidney damage or gallstones. You may also experience decreased absorption of vitamins A,D, E, K and beta-carotene. Your doctor may recommend that you take vitamin supplement to stay healthy.


Studies have shown that patients who take XENICAL along with a diet and exercise program often lose more weight than patients who use diet and exercise alone. But the difference isn't staggering. 

In pooled data from 5 clinical studies, patients who took XENICAL lost an average of 13.4 pounds, while patients who took a placebo lost 5.8 pounds.  But the National Institutes of Health points out that not everyone loses weight with the drug and many people who do take it regain the weight after they stop taking the pill.


The recommended dose of XENICAL is one 120-mg capsule three times a day with each main meal containing fat. XENICAL pills may cost over $5 per pill, putting the cost of a 30-day supply at nearly $500.


Your insurance provider may pay for XENICAL if losing weight can improve your health.  But all insurance plans vary so you should talk to your provider to get details.  If your provider does not cover the cost of the medication, you'll find resources on the XENICAL website to help you get coverage.


DailyMed. Xenical-orlistat capsule. U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Accessed: March 18, 2015. http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=5bbdc95b-82a1-4ba5-8185-6504ff68cc06&

Orlistat. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Accessed: March 18, 2015. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a601244.html

MedlinePlus. Weight Loss Medications. U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Accessed: March 17, 2015. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000346.htm

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