Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Diet Pill

Alli, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, is the first over-the-counter diet pill approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and soon graces the shelves of a drug store near you.

As those of us who diet reluctantly accept, there is no magic bullet for weight loss (sigh...). "People's hopes are ridiculously high when it comes to diet pills. That leads to disappointment and bad word of mouth," says an industry analyst. The VP of GlaxoSmithKline's weight control division points out, "We've done everything to go out of our way to be honest." They are trying to establish realistic expectations for this new entry into the diet market by providing a complete picture.

I say, "Kudos to them."

Let's take a closer look. In clinical trials, the FDA says people using alli lost an additional two to three pounds for every five lost via diet and exercise. It does this by blocking the absorption of about one-quarter of consumed fat, which passes through the body, potentially resulting in loose stools. Moreover, about half the patients experienced side effects, including leakage and oily discharges.

Hmm, if that image doesn't make you want to eat less, what will?

In order to avoid these unpleasant effects, GlaxoSmithKline stresses keeping meals under 15 grams of fat. They even recommend starting the program when one has a few days off work, or, as an alternative, bring an extra pair of pants to the office.

I picture office cooler conversations:

"Hey, Scott, when you gonna start that new diet pill?"

"As soon as I can buy new pants."

"Wow! Positive attitude dude! Planning to lose so much weight and be skinny?"

"No, it's just, well, um, er, oh, never mind - read the label..."

Alli's "starter kit" includes a food journal, healthy eating guide and a fat and calorie reference. Its marketing exhibit features plates with sensible portion sizes, and a web site with an emphasis on diet and exercise.

The monthly cost of taking alli, based on three times a day as suggested, will be between $60 and $75.

Let's recap shall we?

We have a pill with some relatively unpleasant potential repercussions. I mean, having to lug around an extra set of pants in the event of "side effects" seems a tad burdensome. I could be wrong; it could just be me.

More to the point, users consume less fat, record meals in a food journal, learn sensible portions, and exercise more. I sincerely applaud GlaxoSmithKline's in devising a balanced, healthy weight loss approach.

However, will alli sell? After all, if I'm eating less, tracking my food, lowering my fat, and increasing my activity, why do I need a pill?

No comments: