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FDA Panel Approves Diet Drug For OTC Use

By a surprising 11-3 margin, a FDA advisory panel approved GlaxoSmithKline's application to sell the diet drug Xenical over-the-counter (OTC), despite criticism from experts outside and inside the agency.

In fact, some patients, among them diabetics, were taking Xenical (generic name orlistat) who weren't supposed to be doing so because they didn't understand the risks, even after reading the drug label, according to FDA staff reviewers.

Xenical works as a fat-blocker that prevents about a quarter of the fat a patient eats from being absorbed which passes through the body via loose or oily stools. Among its other "wonderful" side effects: An inability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (D, E and K) and beta carotene.

Folks, the approval of Xenical as an 60-milligram, OTC weapon against the obesity is all about money and ease of use, certainly not your health. Besides, for Xenical to work, you have to take it three times a day. Once you stop, according to FDA reviewers, you start putting on the pounds again...

Just one more reminder, most drugs -- bought at a pharmacy in front of a counter or behind it -- are useless, often dangerous and don't treat the real cause of your health problems, especially obesity. Your two best natural tools for fighting the plague of obesity -- regular exercise and a nutritious diet -- are equally important and have nothing at all to do with a drug.

Forbes.com January 24, 2006

Yahoo News January 20, 2006

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