Reports: Alli Linked to Liver Damage; FDA Investigating

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Alli, the only U.S. FDA-approved nonprescription weight-loss drug, is under investigation by the agency after more than 30 reports of liver damage in patients taking the pills.

The FDA, after much criticism over its slow public notification after problems with other drugs, now notifies consumers sooner of any reported side effects.
It's important to note that while the reports are being investigated, the FDA has not advised consumers to stop taking Alli or halted sales, as it did with the dietary supplement Hydroxycut back in May. The reports are preliminary.

According to the Associated Press:

"Regulators said Monday they have received more than 30 reports of liver damage in patients taking alli and Xenical, the prescription version of the drug. The reports, submitted between 1999 and October 2008, included 27 hospitalized patients, and six who suffered liver failure.

Alli and Xenical are both marketed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline PLC, though Xenical is manufactured by Swiss firm Roche.
The FDA says it has not established a direct relationship between the weight loss treatments and liver injury, and advised patients to continue using the drugs as directed."

Alli is a fat blocker. You take a pill with each meal. The main ingredient in the pill binds with the digestive enzymes that would normally break down fat from the meal that you consumed. Because Alli attaches to these enzymes, it prevents them from digesting about a quarter of the fat you just ate, allowing it to pass through the digestive system and out of the body, undigested and unabsorbed. Overall, fewer calories from dietary fat are stored as actual body fat.

(Read SparkPeople's article about Alli.)

Have you ever taken Alli? Would you?

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When Alli first came out, I asked my physician about it and after being educated on the potential side effects, I declined to take it. It may have been a good choice for other reasons as well. Report
I have never taken any diet supplaments. I don't think that I would, since I know that they are generally very bad for your body. Report
I know a few women of various ages who took Alli when it was new. Several people tried explaining that the embarrassing side effect couldn’t be healthy. The women were all educated. They said Alli is a scientific breakthrough that wouldn’t be in stores if it weren’t safe. It was easier for them to diet with an immediate consequence. They wore Depends when they planned to eat unhealthy foods. Very sad. The good news is they tired of taking Alli within a few weeks because they didn’t lose much weight. Report
I did take Alli for a short time. As long as I ate okay I had no problems, and the support they gave me was pretty good. I stopped taking them first because I kept forgetting to take them with meals. And I didn't like the idea of taking pills, and the possible side effects. I've been reading Jilluan Michael's
book, and am trying to be much choosier with what I put in
my body. Healty diet and exercise is still the only way to go! I am so glad I stopped taking them now! Report
I read some pretty gross stuff regarding side effects. I don't need to add that to already existing health problems. In the past, I tended to be a quick fix kind of person; I'm trying to take it slow this time around. Hopefully what comes off will stay off. Report
Pills were never the answer- how much I consumed was. Report
Thanks for the informative article. I had wondered what all the hype was about, concerning Alli. Now I realize that it is ultimately as effective as the other diet pills--meaning it's NOT effective. Who would want those side effects? Certainly not me! Healthy eating and exercise, the way we're learning here at Sparkpeople is the way to go! Report
I have taken both Meridia and Xenical (not at the same time), both with limited results. My doctor was/is concerned with the amount of weight I have to lose, and felt it might be the boost I needed. The biggest problem I had with Xenical was when I didn't eat a lower fat diet. Then the side effects were right on! I stopped taking it because I kept forgetting to take it, and felt I needed to continue with proper diet and exercise. Would I take other supplements in the future? Probably, in consultation with my doctor and after doing appropriate research.

I see a lot of comments about using proper diet and exercise to lose weight. For some, it really isn't that simple. I know for me, just to ask about the supplements took a lot of soul searching, because I didn't want a "quick fix." Report
Ive never considered it, but my size 6 sister has. After hearing about the possibility of having uncontrollable slippery bowel movements at any given time, I opted to stay away. That just sounds so embarrasing. Report
Thanks for keeping me up to date as i have been considering taking Alli. i have reached a plateau in my weight loss battle and felt may be this might do the trick. But i will not be going there now!!! Report
I've finally excepted that there is no magic pill or diet as I have tried more than my share. It does not surprise me that the FDA has not pulled Alli. I have not trusted the FDA for some time as it seems to me they approve items that benefit the FDA.
There is no such thing as a Quick Fix. That being said, I have never tried any diet pill. Never have, never will. Report
No never have and never will. Report
I had done some research into Alli but was not impressed with how it worked and the "explosive" side effects that regularly occur. Users that I contacted regarding this product were "ok" with running to the bathroom as all times of day and night. That just didn't appeal to me. I'm so glad I did research and decided it wasn't anything that I wanted to try and am not surprised at the outcome of the FDA reports. I only wish they would investigate more of these OTC items before they hit the shelves. Report
I have no interest in taking Alli ~ and never did ~ or any of the other "lose weight quick" pills. They just all seem bogus to me. What disturbs me about this is that the pharmaceutical industry spends millions (maybe billions) of dollars in advertising/marketing these products, but can't, or won't, take the time to thoroughly ascertain their safety. Who are they kidding? They're not in business to help anyone lose weight. They just want to make a buck. C'mon, people, we don't need Alli and its cousins. Eat less. Move more. Report
once again the gov shoved another harmful medication on the market without a care about the people it may affect. I am not shocked. People want a quick fix and there is not one. Takes hard work and persistence. Keep going. Report
People are looking for a magic bullet... they will try anything. This rather proves it.

I actually considered this stuff for a short moment, very short, until I heard that it could cause "anal leakage" like the WOW chips with the fake fat... and you know, I don't want to give myself diarrhea...

Besides, it's cheaper to eat right. Report
I did take Alli at my doctor's suggestion when it first came out but stopped quickly because I had serious side effects. I'm not surprised that it may cause serious health problems.
lin Report
I've never taken any weight loss drugs, but admit I briefly considered this one. Like most new drugs on the market, I like to wait to see if there are any "new" reports of side effects after it is on the market. I don't really trust the manufacturers or the government to tell me everything.

On another note, rapid weight loss has been thought to cause problems with the gall bladder and since the gall bladder is linked to the liver, it's just logical for the liver to have issues with it too. Report
Why would I take Alli when my fat consumption is healthy fats and controlled? I don't need this pill and neither does anyone else. Report
Once again it's about the MONEY.....

Companies make money for 'food' that is really just fat and chemicals.
Companies make money for 'cures' that keep us from storing the fat.

Sad........... Report
Wouldn't it be easier not to eat the fat to begin with? Seems that would be better than taking a potentially dangerous pill that keeps the fat from being metabolized. Am I going to take this pill for the rest of my life? Or learn to eat healthy? I'm not even tempted by something like Alli. Report
My DH did try this a few years ago. I'm glad he stopped. He did lose weight, but eventually it stopped working. That's scary stuff. The best way to lose weight is with eating healthy and exercising. Report
No I haven't taken it. There have been too many diet meds that have "unknown" side effects over the years. Most have been deadly in the long run. It's too scary. Report
I was thinking about trying Alli but when I checked the weight for heights and it said my weight was fine for my height 144 for 5'1"1/2, which shocked me, I was like fine I won't get it, and now reading this boy am I glad!! Report
I took amphetamines in the '70's to loose weight. I lost weight, shook all the time, couldn't sleep and never took anything else again for weight loss. There is basically only one formula that does it - eat right, move right, look right. Report
I read the side effects of this product and decided that was not for me. Actually, I have never taken a diet pill to lose weight. Report
I've been taking alli for over a year and yes, it's under a doctor's supervision. I feel fine and I am fine -- medically proven. Report
i do not believe in taking any medicine if i do not need too. i know alot of people would need the extra help, but is not for me. Report
I've never tried a diet pill because I worried about the dangerous side effects. Also, I don't like the cost of these pills. Hopefully, only a very small percentage of people have a problem with Alli, but I'm happy I didn't endanger my health by trying it. Report
No way would I take anything like this ... Report
Never taken a weight loss pill, never will Report
Xenical is available here over the counter, and just this morning the report hit the news about the cases of liver damage, but the TV doctor said that it was a very minor number of people and not to bother unless one had symptoms!!
In my book ANY chance of liver damage is too high!!
I have never used the drug myself, though I did think about it several years ago but was told by my doctor that, he wouldn't suggest it because of the side effects, but since it is a non perscription drug it was up to me. Report
I've never taken diet pills of any kind.They cost WAY too much and the side effects arn't worth the risk. Report
I hope these people who look for the quick fix discover that the only real way to weight loss is the hard way--with willpower and lifestyle changes. Report
No and No! Report
I stay away from diet pills as a whole because of bad side effects in the past. Report
I haven't and I wouldn't. Report
I would never take a drug for weight loss. All these grugs have many harmful side effects. That is why I am a Sparker and I believe in a healthy lifestyle. Report
I never tried it Report
Yes, I took them for a few weeks. I never had any side effects, but the more I read about what COULD happen, I felt that it wasn't a risk that I wanted to take. Report
Who doesn't need uncontrollable oily diarrhea?? Report
Bwoy....I am impressed....Spark, you guys are really on the ball!!!! I just heard about it this morning on CNN and already you already have an article on the site. I love it!!!!! Thanks for keeping me up-to-date and fully is much appreciated. Report
I have taken Alli but it really doesn't work for me since I eat a low fat diet. The side affects never really bothered me because of this either. I have tried a lot of different products in my attempts to lose weight. Nothing works but good old fashioned calorie counting, eating nutritionally, and exercise. That's the bottom line! Report
I bought Alli when it first came out. I used it for a month but the cost prohibited me from continuing. I just try to eat a very low fat diet. That seems to work the best. Report
I took alli for a few months. I threw them out about 2 months ago, sure glad I made that choice Report
I took diet supplements when I was in my 20's and while all of them worked a bit, they all had side effects and none of them helped me maintain weight loss or enhance my health. So ... no ... no interest in Alli.

I agree with Maggie - our bodies are designed to function in a certain way and it seems to me that interfering with the natural process of digestion is just asking for trouble, and the liver problems may just be the unintended consequences. The body is a 'closed system' and what we do to one part will affect the other parts, for good or ill. I wonder, too, with all this speeding up of 'fat elimination,' wouldn't that also interfere with the proper absorption of vitamins and minerals? And if that is true, how can that be a good thing?

The one thing I've taken that has made a difference for me has been fiber - in addition to what I get with fruits & veg & grain. I've been taking something called Yamazu that my acupuncturist recommended. By upping my daily fiber, my hunger is dulled so I can ask myself, "is this real physical hunger, or emotional hunger?" The creation of this "pause" has allowed me to make real emotional progress and habit changes. But, that is as far as I will go. My doctor offered me pills and etc. about a year ago, but I said "no thank you." Report
This definitely makes me concerned about ever taking drugs to help with weight loss. On the other hand, if I had a hundred pounds or more to lose, I might be willing to take a risk. Report
I thought about it, but I was scared off by the side effects. I'd rather do it on my own so I can keep going. I don't want to think that I am dependent on that pill to do it. Report
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