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Newton D. Bowdan: Don’t dismiss benefits of diet drug orlistat

To the editor:

The article about diet pills in a recent Gazette was very informative, one of the best popular science articles I’ve seen in this field. But it gives orlistat short shrift undeservedly. The article states, “Orlistat, marketed as Xenical, (and in an over-the-counter version called Alli) was the last weight-loss drug approved by the FDA before the two new ones. It works in a different way, blocking the absorption of fats. But its distasteful side effects, including oily stools, make it unpalatable to many users.”

True, but too general. Orlistat can be used in 60 mg. doses, before a fatty meal. It does not have to be used in 120 mg. doses three times a day, which would give oily stalls, especially to those who eat a lot of fat. It works by blocking the actions of stomach and intestinal lipases, which metabolize fat, and let it enter the blood stream, and it makes you avoid, say, pizza, because you don’t want fatty stools It blocks the absorption of 1/3 of the fat you eat within its period of activity.

How good is that! Unlike the two other pills described, it does not stimulate your heart and/or make you mentally foggy. Do not dismiss it.

Newton D. Bowdan, M.D.

South Hadley

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