Safety of popular diet drug focus of federal investigation - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Safety of popular diet drug focus of federal investigation

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WASHINGTON. - There's a new health warning about a popular over-the-counter weight loss drug.

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating more than 30 reports of liver damage of people taking Alli and the prescription version of the same drug, Xenical.

There's no doubt the over the counter weight loss pill 'Alli' is popular and by many accounts, effective.

Pharmacist David Finch not only recommends the drug, but uses it himself.

"What I've seen thus far, it's a good product," said Finch.

The FDA is now reviewing 27 reports of liver damage and six cases of liver failure, all in patients taking Alli and Xenical.

"I think the FDA is very clear on that. That right now they're not making any definitive association, but are just letting people know that they are investigating it," said dietitian Bernadette Latson.

Latson says Alli and Xenical work by blocking the intestines from absorbing fat.

"It's not supposed to work systemically, it's not supposed to go in the blood stream, it works in level of gut, so it's a surprise for sure," said Latson.

For now, the FDA recommends patients continue taking the drug as directed.

"I think it's great that the FDA notifies people, so they can make an informed decision," Latson said. 

"There is no evidence the drug causes liver injury. Alli's safety has been studied in more 30,000 patients in 100 clinical studies," said a spokeswoman for Glaxo Smith Kline, the drug's manufacturer.

She also noted people who are overweight are predisposed to liver related disorders.
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