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Alli, pronounced like ally, is never referred to as a drug by its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline. It contains the active ingredient orlistat, which is the same active ingredient in the prescription diet drug Xenical®. It is the first, and to date the only, FDA approved over-the-counter weight loss product. This product is a breakthrough in that it is an over-the-counter product. All other FDA approved products for use in a weight loss program are prescription medications. Many other products, preparations, devices and plans exist to aid in weight loss but alli stands alone as approved for people over the age of 18 to aid in weight loss.
The totality of the GSK claim is that if you use alli and follow a regimen of diet and exercise, you will lose 50% more weight than with diet and exercise alone. It works by preventing the body from absorbing about 25% of the fat that you eat. It does this by attaching to the enzymes which would ordinarily break down the fats so
that your body can absorb them.
The biggest part of the program is marketing of alli as a complete package of capsules, with a customized diet and exercise program. GSK asks that you commit to doing all parts of the program before you start. This is GSK’s way of saying that this plan will perform as specified, “with diet and exercise.” The diet and exercise parts of the alli plan are provided to the registered users online, and GSK personalizes diet and exercise plans. The capsules are taken with meals containing fat, three times a day. It sells for $39.64 for 60 capsules, which is a twenty day supply. As an over-the-counter drug, it is unlikely that any health insurance will
cover the cost.