Orlistat is a commonly used diet medication also known by the brand names Alli and Xenical. Taken as an oral capsule, it works by preventing the body from absorbing fats and fat soluble vitamins, which in turn lessens the amount of calories absorbed by the body, leading to weight loss.
Although many consumers of Orlistat report few adverse effects, enough Orlistat takers have reported serious side effects to catch the attention of the FDA.
Side Effects of Orlistat
Most commonly, Orlistat side effects are relatively mild, and affect only the gastrointestinal tract. The most common side effects are oily or loose stools, fecal incontinence, diarrhea, sudden urgent bowel movements, and fecal discharge when passing gas. While most of the lesser side effects last less than one week, some Orlistat consumers have reported ongoing symptoms.
Serious Side Effects
Additionally, a number of more serious side effects have been reported. Besides short-term gastrointestinal distress, Orlistat has also been reported as causing severe abdominal pain, rectal pain, and constipation. Hypoglycemia, polyuria (the excessive passing of urine), polydipsia, and one case of diabetic ketoacidosis have also been reported.
Orlistat has also been associated with a number of hepatic and renal side effects. One young female was admitted to the hospital after experiencing severe abdominal pain, nausea, and malaise; doctors found that she had an alarming degree of hepatic injury due to her consumption of Orlistat. Other patients have experienced nephropathy, or kidney damage, and jaundice.
Rare Side Effects
Dermatologically, at least one case of serious hypersensitivity, where the patient, a male in his thirties experienced cutaneous leukocytoclastic vasculitis, essentially a severe case of skin lesions, on his lower extremities. These occurred less than four days after beginning oral Orlistat, and disappeared almost as quickly after taking anti-inflammatories and stopping Orlistat.
Finally, Orlistat has been seen to cause cardiovascular side effects including an extreme rise in blood pressure, pedal edema and hypertension. Orlistat medications have also been linked to many miscellaneous smaller side effects.
Many reported mild musculoskeletal disorders, including back pain and tendonitis; additionally, several Orlistat takers experienced menstrual irregularities, urinary tract infections, sleeplessness and anxiety.
Orlistat and Liver Damage
Most seriously, Orlistat has been associated with reports of liver toxicity. The FDA received over thirty reports of liver damage in connection with taking Orlistat, ninety percent of which required hospitalization.
Despite an ongoing study on the possibility of a connection between Orlistat and liver damage, Orlistat’s manufacturer, GlaxsoSmithKline, has denied any connection between Orlistat and liver damage.
What Are the Legal Implications?
Because of the wide range of reported side effects and the serious possibility of a connection between Orlistat and liver toxicity, the FDA has placed it on their list of drugs with potential safety issues, which means many may be entitled to legal compensation.
Those who have taken Orlistat, or one of its brand versions, Alli or Xenical, should be particularly aware of the signs of liver damage, namely, stomach pain, brown or dark urine, jaundice, and malaise, and should contact a doctor as soon as possible should they experience any of these symptoms.
Any Orlistat users who have experienced these symptoms, or any of the other serious side effects listed above are advised to contact the MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program, as well as an experienced pharmaceutical lawyer immediately in order to discuss their case and the possibility of compensation from the manufacturers.
Monetary compensation for those having experienced serious side effects from Orlistat may include the cost of medical care, lost wages due to sick days, pain and suffering caused by taking Orlistat, and other expenses resulting from taking Orlistat.