A oral drug manufactured by Roche Laboratories (generic name: orlistat) prescribed for weight loss, typically for those people who are more than 20% overweight. Xenical works by attaching itself to the lipases in the intestines and prevents them from breaking down fat. Xenical claims to block up to 30 percent of fat intake, but requires a reduced-calorie diet for best results. Xenical became famous, or rather infamous, for its rather nasty list of potential side effects (although most of these actually indicate that the drug is working):

Side effects may include: spotting, gas with discharge, urgent need to go to the bathroom, oily or fatty stools, an oily discharge, increased number of bowel movements, and inability to control bowel movements. Due to the presence of undigested fat, the oil seen in a bowel movement may be clear or have a coloration such as orange or brown.

Orlistat is a weight loss drug produced by Roche. Its functions are to assist in weight loss, to maintain weight at a desirable level, and to reduce the risk of weight gain after a weight loss

Orlistat is marketed under the name of Xenical. It is considered to be of use to people with a BMI greater than or equal to 30, and also to people with a BMI of 27 or more and who have other obesity related health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes or dyslipidemia. It is contraindicated in people with chronic malabsorption syndrome or cholestasis.

  • How it works

Xenical is designed to be used in conjunction with a calorie reduced diet (only 30% of the calorific content of the person's meals may be fat) and a moderate exercise regime.

XENICAL (orlistat) is a lipase inhibitor for obesity management that acts by inhibiting the absorption of dietary fats. 
  -- RxList.com

Here's what that means:

When we eat fat, a number of enzymes make things happen to it. 
One group of enzymes is called "lipases." It is the lipases' job to begin the breakdown of fat into glycerol and fatty acids. When Xenical is present in the gut, the lipases cannot do this job properly and up to 30% of the the dietary fat consumed remains unbroken-down and so is seen as the body as rubbish and thrown away.

This "throwing away" can lead to some rather unpleasant side effects. Listed here are ill-effects some people experienced while taking Xenical. While not all of the conditions are likely to have been caused by the medication, it is wise to consider them before deciding to take Xenical

Five percent (or more) of people undergoing double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials of Xenical  reported these symptoms:

Gastrointestinal System
Oily Spotting, Flatus with Discharge, Fecal Urgency, Fatty/Oily Stool, Oily Evacuation, Increased Defecation, Fecal Incontinence

Two percent (or more) of people undergoing double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials of Xenical reported these symptoms:

Gastrointestinal System
Abdominal Pain/Discomfort,  Nausea,  Infectious Diarrhea,  Rectal Pain/Discomfort,  Tooth Disorder, Gingival Disorder, Vomiting
Respiratory System
  Influenza,  Upper Respiratory Infection,  Lower Respiratory Infection
  Ear, Nose & Throat Symptoms
Musculoskeletal System
  Back Pain,  Pain Lower Extremities,  Arthritis,  Myalgia,  Joint Disorder,  Tendonitis
Central Nervous System
  Headache,  Dizziness
Body as a Whole
  FatigueSleep Disorder
Skin & Appendages
  Rash,  Dry Skin
Reproductive, Female
  Menstrual Irregularity,  Vaginitis
Urinary System
  Urinary Tract Infection
Psychiatric Disorder
  Psychiatric Anxiety,  Depression
Hearing & Vestibular Disorders

Cardiovascular Disorders
  Pedal Edema

  • Drug Interactions:

Orlistat has been found to have no significant effect on the effects of the following:
Alcohol, Digoxin, Glyburide, Nifedipine (extended-release tablets), Oral Contraceptives, and Phenytoin

Orlistat has been found to have some significant effect on the following:
Fat-soluble Vitamin Supplements and Analogues, Pravastatin, and Warfarin

No drug interaction studies have been conducted with Orlistat and cyclosporine. Since changes in cyclosporine absorption have been reported with variations in dietary intake, caution is advised in the concomitant use of XENICAL plus diet in patients receiving cyclosporine therapy.

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