Consumer group calls for ban on diet pill it claims is linked to organ failure

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by Wendy Rigby / KENS 5

kens5.com

Posted on April 18, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 18 at 10:16 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- A consumer group is calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban two popular diet drugs. Public Citizen says Alli and Xenical have the potential to cause significant organ damage.

It’s been a popular, available, affordable weight loss option for five years now. Alli, the non-prescription version of Xenical, works by blocking absorption of about a third of fat enzymes in food.
 
At the U.T. Health Science Center, internal medicine specialist Dr. Fred Campbell has some patients who use the drug and like it.
 
“I think, relatively speaking, it’s a safe agent,” Campbell said. “But no weight loss drug is 100% safe. And certainly, this one is not as effective as we would like to see.”
 
Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said the drug has been linked to a handful of cases of liver failure, kidney stones and pancreatitis. They’ve issued a petition to the FDA calling for the removal of Allie and Xenical.
 
Since it’s available over the counter, Campbell said the fear is some people who should be monitored while on the drug simply aren’t. He supports closer scrutiny of the medication.
 
“I’m very supportive of those efforts,” he stated. “I hope that the FDA will consider seriously any legitimate concerns and treat those all with great care.”
 
Campbell said diet and exercise are always the best first-line choice for losing weight. So far, it seems, there’s no magic pill.
 
“In general, weight loss drugs have been disappointing,” he added.
 
The maker of the drug said Alli is the most studied weight loss drug. Its safety has been established in more than 100 studies in 30,000 patients.
 
It’s unclear whether the FDA will actually take any action on this.

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