This medication is used with a doctor-approved exercise, behavior change, and reduced-calorie diet program to help you lose weight. It is used by certain overweight people, such as those who are obese or have weight-related medical problems. Taking orlistat can also help keep you from gaining back weight you have lost. Losing weight and keeping it off can lessen the many health risks that come with obesity, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a shorter life.
Dietary fats need to be broken down into smaller pieces before the body can absorb them. Orlistat works by blocking the enzyme that breaks down fats in your diet. This undigested fat then passes out of your body in your bowel movement. Orlistat does not block the absorption of calories from sugar and other non-fat foods, so you still need to restrict your total intake of calories.
Changes in your bowel function often occur because of the unabsorbed fat. Fatty/oily stool, oily spotting, intestinal gas with discharge, a feeling of needing to have a bowel movement right away, increased number of bowel movements, or poor bowel control may occur. These side effects may get worse if you eat more fat than you should. If these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor promptly.
If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, remember that he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Stop taking this medication and tell your doctor right away if any of these rare but serious side effects occur: symptoms of liver disease (such as persistent nausea/vomiting, severe stomach/abdominal pain, dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin), symptoms of kidney stones (such as back pain, pain when urinating, pink/bloody urine).
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Before taking orlistat, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: a certain digestive problem (chronic malabsorption syndrome), a certain gall bladder problem (cholestasis), underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), kidney stones/problems (such as calcium oxalate kidney stones, hyperoxaluria), certain eating disorders (anorexia nervosa/bulimia), HIV infection, seizures.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
If you are diabetic, weight loss may improve your blood sugar control. Be sure to check your blood sugar regularly and tell your doctor the results. Your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication, exercise program, or diet.
This medication must not be used during pregnancy. Weight loss offers no potential benefit to a pregnant woman and may harm an unborn baby. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor right away.
It is unknown if this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.