Weight Loss Home > Xenical

Xenical is a prescription drug used to both help people lose weight and keep weight gain from returning. It comes in capsule form and is taken with each fat-containing meal. Xenical works by inhibiting the action of enzymes that break down fat, thereby reducing fat absorption by the body. Side effects include gas, stomach pain, and an urgent need to have a bowel movement.

What Is Xenical?

Xenical® (orlistat) is a prescription weight loss medication. It is approved to help people lose weight and to prevent weight regain in people who have already lost weight.
(Click Xenical Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes Xenical?

It is made by Roche Pharmaceuticals.

How Does It Work?

Xenical works by decreasing the absorption of fat from your diet. The stomach and intestine have enzymes, called lipases, that break down fat into smaller molecules which are then absorbed from your digestive tract. Xenical binds to lipases and inhibits their activity, helping to decrease fat absorption. The medication does not have any effect on carbohydrates or protein.

Effects of Xenical

Studies have shown that Xenical helps people lose weight. After six months of taking the drug while dieting, people lost an average of 12.4 pounds (compared to just 6.2 pounds for people who were just dieting). After a year, those taking it while dieting had lost a total of 13.4 pounds, on average (compared to 5.8 pounds for those just dieting). In addition, those taking it for a year experienced decreases in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol), blood sugar, and blood pressure, while those not taking it increased all these factors.
In studies of Xenical in people with type 2 diabetes, the drug improved several measures of diabetes control, such as fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c, and many people were able to reduce or discontinue their diabetes medications. Studies have also shown that the drug can help prevent type 2 diabetes in people with obesity.
Xenical has also been studied as an aid to help people who have already lost weight keep the weight off. In one study, 52 percent of people not taking it regained the weight they had lost, compared to just 26 percent of people who took the drug.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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