Generic Name: Orlistat Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is orlistat used for?

Orlistat is used along with a doctor-approved reduced-calorie diet, exercise, and behavior modification program to help significantly overweight (obese) persons lose weight. Taking orlistat can also help prevent you from regaining the weight you have lost. Losing weight and keeping it off can reduce the many health risks that obesity causes, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer, certain breathing problems, and a shorter life span.

Dietary fats need to be broken down into smaller pieces before the body can absorb them. Orlistat works by blocking the enzyme that breaks down fats in your diet. This undigested fat then passes out of your body in your bowel movement. Orlistat does not block the absorption of calories from sugar and other non-fat foods, so you still need to restrict your total intake of calories.

How should I take orlistat?

Orlistat is used along with a doctor-approved reduced-calorie diet, exercise, and behavior modification program to help significantly overweight (obese) persons lose weight. Taking orlistat can also help prevent you from regaining the weight you have lost. Losing weight and keeping it off can reduce the many health risks that obesity causes, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer, certain breathing problems, and a shorter life span.

Dietary fats need to be broken down into smaller pieces before the body can absorb them. Orlistat works by blocking the enzyme that breaks down fats in your diet. This undigested fat then passes out of your body in your bowel movement. Orlistat does not block the absorption of calories from sugar and other non-fat foods, so you still need to restrict your total intake of calories.

How to use orlistat

If you are taking the over-the-counter product to self-treat, read all directions on the product package before taking this medication.

If your doctor has prescribed this medication, read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your pharmacist before you start taking orlistat and each time you get a refill. Take orlistat as directed by your doctor, by mouth with liquid sometime during each meal that contains fat or within 1 hour after the meal, usually 3 times daily. If you miss a meal or your meal contains no fat, skip that dose of the medication. To decrease the chance of unpleasant side effects, it is very important that no more than 30% of the calories in your diet come from fat. Your daily intake of fat, protein, and carbohydrates should be evenly spread over 3 main meals.

Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase.

Because orlistat can interfere with the absorption of certain vitamins (fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, E, K), a daily multivitamin supplement containing these nutrients is recommended. Take the multivitamin at least 2 hours before or 2 hours after taking orlistat (such as at bedtime).

If you take cyclosporine, take it at least 3 hours before or after orlistat to make sure the full dose of cyclosporine is absorbed into your bloodstream. If you take levothyroxine, take it at least 4 hours before or after orlistat.

You should see some weight loss within 2 weeks after you start orlistat. Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.

How do I store orlistat?

Orlistat is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store orlistat in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of orlistat that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush orlistat down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using orlistat?

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of orlistat in teenagers. Safety and efficacy have not been established in children younger than 12 years of age.

Geriatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of orlistat in the elderly.

Is it safe to take orlistat during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category B according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk,
  • B=No risk in some studies,
  • C=There may be some risk,
  • D=Positive evidence of risk,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of orlistat?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using orlistat and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • Severe pain in your lower back, blood in your urine;
  • Urinating less than usual or not at all;
  • Drowsiness, confusion, mood changes, increased thirst;
  • Swelling, weight gain, feeling short of breath;
  • Severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate; or
  • Nausea, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

The following side effects occur commonly with the use of orlistat. They are the natural effects of orlistat’s fat-blocking action and are actually signs that the medication is working properly. These side effects are usually temporary and may lessen as you continue treatment with orlistat:

  • Oily spotting in your undergarments;
  • Oily or fatty stools;
  • Orange or brown colored oil in your stool;
  • Gas with discharge, an oily discharge;
  • Loose stools, or an urgent need to go to the bathroom, inability to control bowel movements;
  • An increased number of bowel movements;
  • Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rectal pain; or
  • Weakness, dark urine, clay-colored stools, itching, loss of appetite, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Other side effects that may occur while taking orlistat include:

  • Problems with your teeth or gums;
  • Cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, cough;
  • Fever, chills, sore throat, flu symptoms;
  • Headache, back pain; or
  • Mild skin rash.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with orlistat?

Orlistat may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Carbamazepine, Clobazam, Clonazepam, Clorazepate, Cyclosporine, Diazepam, Eslicarbazepine Acetate, Ethosuximide, Ethotoin, Ezogabine, Felbamate, Fosphenytoin, Gabapentin, Lacosamide, Lamotrigine, Levetiracetam, Lorazepam, Methsuximide, Midazolam, Oxcarbazepine, Perampanel, Phenobarbital, Phenytoin, Piracetam, Pregabalin, Primidone, Rufinamide, Stiripentol, Tiagabine, Topiramate, Valproic Acid, Vigabatrin, Zonisamide.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Linoleic Acid, Warfarin.

Does food or alcohol interact with orlistat?

Orlistat may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with orlistat?

Orlistat may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • Diabetes;
  • Underactive thyroid—Use with caution. May increase risk for more serious side effects.
  • Eating disorders (e.g., anorexia nervosa or bulimia);
  • Hyperoxaluria (high oxalic acid in the urine), history of;
  • Kidney failure;
  • Kidney stones;
  • Liver disease—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
  • Gallbladder problems;
  • Malabsorption syndrome (problems with absorbing or digesting food)—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.

Understand the dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of Orlistat for an adult?

120 mg orally three times a day with each main meal containing fat. The dose may be taken during the meal or within 1 hour of completing the meal.

What is the dose of Orlistat for a child?

12 years or older: 120 mg orally three times a day with each main meal containing fat. The dose may be taken during the meal or within 1 hour of completing the meal.

How is orlistat available?

Orlistatis available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Capsule 60 mg; 120 mg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services (115) or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of orlistat, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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