Concern over weight-loss drug side effects
newscientist.com, 21 April 2011:
PRESSURE is being put on the US Food and Drug Administration to ban the weight-loss drug orlistat, following new evidence linking it to liver and kidney problems.
Orlistat works by preventing the absorption of fat in the intestine. It is currently the only weight-loss drug approved by the FDA. Matthew Weir and colleagues at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, observed the rate of acute kidney injury in 953 orlistat users. In the year before orlistat use, 0.5 per cent of the group experienced kidney problems, but this leapt to 2 per cent in the year when they were taking the drug (Archives of Internal Medicine, DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.103).
Previous research has shown a link between orlistat use and liver damage, prompting adoption of a revised drug label warning of this side effect. Consumer group Public Citizen says information obtained from FDA files on adverse reactions links orlistat to 47 cases of acute pancreatitis and 73 cases of kidney stones. The drug should be removed from sale, it says.