Meds and you

27 September 2013

Orlistat

Orlistat is a lipase inhibitor. Lipase inhibitors are drugs that block the functioning or secretion of certain enzymes in the digestive tract.

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Orlistat is the active ingredient of Xenical capsules (Nappi code: 852627-009, 010).

General information
Orlistat is a lipase inhibitor. Lipase inhibitors are drugs that block the functioning or secretion of certain enzymes in the digestive tract.

For orlistat to be effective, it needs to be taken in conjunction with a proper diet and exercise plan.

It is claimed that orlistat absorbs up to one third of all fat in your diet. You should however try to follow a diet where no more than 30% of dietary calories are from fat - the more fat your diet contains the more side effects (such as diarrhoea and stomach pain) are experienced with orlistat.

For this medication to be effective, it has to be taken regularly, even if you do not notice an immediate effect. Should you however miss a meal, you can skip your dose of orlistat.

How does orlistat work?
Orlistat blocks specific digestive enzymes that are secreted by the pancreas. These enzymes (lipases) are responsible for the breakdown of dietary fat for the purpose of absorption into the body. This means that these fats are not absorbed into the body, but passed through the digestive tract and are excreted in the faeces. It is suggested that the body, as a result, must burn stored fat from tissues to provide the energy that would normally have been obtained from dietary fat.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 3
Available as: orlistat is available as capsules.
What does it do? Orlistat assists with losing weight.
Overdose risk: low
Dependence risk: low
Is orlistat available as a generic? no
Is orlistat available on prescription only? yes

User information

Onset of effect: 30 - 60 minutes
Duration of action: up to 48 hours
Dietary advice: orlistat should be taken immediately before, during or after a meal. Follow a nutritionally balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables. No more than 30% of your dietary calories should be from fat to reduce the occurrence of side effects.
Stopping this medicine: treatment with this medication can be safely stopped when no longer needed.
Prolonged use: treatment should only be continued for longer than 3 months if you have lost at least 5% of your initial weight. In this case treatment may be continued for up to 2 years.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have been diagnosed with a condition causing a reduction in bile secretion
  • you have diabetes
  • you have been diagnosed with chronic malabsorbtion syndrome
  • you have an eating disorder

Pregnancy: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before using this drug, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.
Breastfeeding: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use.
Porphyria: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your condition. Consult your doctor before use.
Infants and children: this medication is not intended for use in children under the age of 18 years.
The elderly: no special precautions need to be taken.
Driving and hazardous work: no special precautions need to be taken.
Alcohol: no special precautions need to be taken.

Possible side effects

Side Effect
Frequency
Consult your doctor

Common
Rare
Only if severe
In all cases
diarrhoea
X

X

abdominal pain
X

X

flatulence
X

X

headache

X
X

rectal discomfort

X
X

low blood sugar in diabetics

X
X

fatigue

X
X

anxiety

X
X

rectal bleeding

X

X

Interactions

Drug interactions

pravastatin risk of increased side effects with pravastatin
fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) levels of these vitamins may be reduced. take supplements at least 2 hours apart.
warfarin Blood-clotting time should be closely monitored
amiodarone reduced levels of amiodarone in the body

Overdose action
A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage
Adults, oral: one capsule with each meal.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 
 

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