I often take a look at pharmaceutical industry news - even the stock values and projected earnings of companies. I think that we learn a lot about our health care system by doing so. I wasn't surprised by what I read the other evening, but I do think I missed a piece when I wrote this three years ago... edited excerpt from post:
It has been a little while since our grocery stores held prominent displays of the latest OTC weight loss drug, Alli. Long too, since Wynona Judd did her print and TV ads endorsing the product. I of course, had my say in these pages.That FDA statement focused on liver related side effects. The drug had additional and more common side effects, in fact, it was recommended by the maker that initial use begin on a weekend - when you would not be around other people so much (gas, leakage, etc).
Alli was intended to enhance weight loss by blocking some fat absorption. The alternative, eating less fatty food, would be considered too inconvenient for people. I railed against the drug, I still rail against it and now the FDA has made a cautionary statement in its regard.
I understood that Alli was the OTC version of Xenical/Orlistat, but did not realize that GlaxoSmithKline bought Xenical from Roche with the goal of modifying it (to make it safe enough to put on a shelf without a prescription) and profiting from its expected super sales. GSK was the one behind all the commercials, Wal-Mart displays and celebrity endorsements. It was an extensive and expensive marketing campaign. Surely it made sense - we all want a pill that lets us eat whatever we desire and still lose weight (except that is NEVER what the fine print says).
The current value of the product is - well NIL. GSK is trying to sell and has no buyers. The reasons the drug flopped are the very reasons I gave for hating it in 2008.
Its efficacy was based on the person consuming foods low in fat and remaining calorie conscious - in other words, the pill was not the instigator of the weight loss the lower calorie intake was (it always is). But people don't take pills because they are interested in changing their diet. They do it instead of changing their diet (why I hate all obesity drugs). A majority of people on Alli did not lower their fat intake which led to substantial and embarrassing gas and diarrhea while on the pills.
Upshot with Alli: No weight loss, plenty of inconvenience and embarrassment.
Thanks to the Motley Fool bloggers for their great post on this issue!