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Alli – The First FDA Approved OTC Weight Loss Pill in US

October 7th, 2007 · 6 Comments ·


Three months ago, was chatting in MSN with a friend who is working in US. Was told that she just bought a new weight loss pill, Alli. She was not a fan of weight loss pills. So, what really convince her to give Alli a try this time? I decided to do some research on it.

Found out that Alli is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a leading health care company with wide portfolio of pharmaceutical products. My childhood favorite drink, Ribena is done by GSK too. The name Alli comes from the need for an ally, or partner helping you to lose weight. The word Alli is pronounced as “ally” this case.

What makes Alli different from other weight loss products and in fact the key reason I blog about it is that Alli is the fist and currently the only diet drug deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be sold over the counter in the US (without the need of prescription). The other two FDA-approved weight-loss drugs currently on the US market are Xenical and Meridia, but both are available only with a prescription.The other key differentiator of alli is that it comes with a customized plan. The pills come with a starter kit to assist consumers understand how to find fat in their diets at home and when eating out. This plan was designed to give the customer the support to succeed with weight loss.


Since alli is sold over the counter, it contains only half as much of the active ingredient Xenical does. Yes, you can safely assume that it is 50% less efficient than the current best selling diet drug Xenical (which can only be purchased with prescription). Xenical (know as Orlistat too) is a famous fat-blocking drug.

If you wonder how Alli works, here you go: Alli has to be taken with meals. It works by inhibiting pancreatic lipase, an enzyme that breaks down triglycerides in the intestine. Without this enzyme, triglycerides from the diet are prevented from being absorbed and are excreted undigested. In layman term, alli is a fat blocker pill that helps your body lose weight by limiting the amount of dietary fat that it can absorb while eating. The fat that is blocked will be passed through the body naturally.

According to GSK, alli stops the enzymes from digesting some of the fat that is consumed. Alli only works in in the digestive track and this uniqueness keeps the consumer safe from side effects that are common in other diet pill products such as hyperactivity and restlessness. The company claims that with alli, one will lose about 50% more weight than with just dieting alone. In other words, if you could lose 10 pounds through dieting, you could lose 15 pounds with Alli.

As expected, some doctors are concerned about potential abuse of Alli, especially among youths. Yes, I hope that people will not abuse it by taking alli, followed by a couple of burgers, hot dogs and French fries – and hope miracle will happen.


What I like about GSK is that the company is being honest and upfront. You can watch the video above to judge yourself. The company has marketed Alli as part of the weight loss program rather than just a magic pill. The company does not want people to try Alli for the sake of trying. It wants the dieters to be committed to a low fat diet with exercise plan. In fact, the tag line used by the company – “If you have the will, we have the power.”

One cannot be passive about using Alli. Instead, from the way the company puts in, it obligates the consumer to take an active part in the weight loss process. It is selling a program, and not just pills. The company is bold enough to make the statement – “If you are not committed to limiting your fat intake and calories as part of the program, then you should not buy alli. Not right now.”


It is important to be aware of the potential side effects. The company emphasizes that people should only take Alli when eating 15 grams of fat at each meal. A higher fat consumption could lead to gastrointestinal issues. Loose or more frequent stools, an urgent need to go to the bathroom or gas with an oily discharge are the main “side effects”. Therefore, the company recommends that people wear dark pants or bring a change of clothes to work until they adjust to the drug. Sounds like a joke, but that official statement was issued in serious note. Again, it is good that the company has been upfront about it. Come to think about it, I guess this bowel movement side effect will remind the dieters to curb their appetites.


GSK plans to sell product in Europe, under a different name, in 2008. It also plans to submit Alli for regulatory approval in Canada, Latin America, China, Australia and New Zealand before the end of 2007. As for Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, no confirmed news yet.

Given a choice, I still think that losing weight without any drug aids is a better choice. But, for obese people, alli will be a great tool simply because it is a legitimate drug which has been tested and evaluated by a well known company, GlaxoSmithKline. It is not produced by the typical fly by night company (like the breast enhancement cream or penis enlargement magic capsules).

In short, alli is not just another weight loss product. It is part of a weight loss program for overweight people, not for everyone looking for a quick fix. Alli requires a commitment to living your life a new way as you learn to change your eating and activity habit.


Alli will be helpful, but it is not the answer. The answer is still your commitment. For those who want to give alli a try, alli is sold in these packages (available in Amazon), ranging between about $40 to $65:



Category: Weight Loss

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6 responses so far ↓
  • Reggie // Oct 10, 2007 at 1:54 AM

    Hello Mun, how you doing? Thanks for providing such useful information on diet pills. Just like you, I am a believer of losing weight “naturally” – dieting and exercising. Even though Alli has a good selling point that emphasizes their product as to be the side-kick of good diet and frequent exercise sessions, the side effects – feeling gasy and multiple trips to the bathroom, are just too unpredictable for anybody. Just out of curiosity, where do you find all these information, not just on Alli, but other sceientific facts and topics that are related to the diet pill? Good job on your research! I am very impressed. Looks like I got someone to look up to and learn.

    – Reggie

  • Elvina // Oct 10, 2007 at 1:25 PM

    I used to take Xenical last time whenever I eat oily stuff. It was effective but it made my tummy bloated. So now I just stick to proper dieting and exercising which helps me to maintain my current weight for almost 2 years now =)

  • Mun // Oct 12, 2007 at 9:51 PM

    Hi Reggie,

    Normally, I spent numerous hours in doing research on the Net before I wrote articles here.

    Hi Elvina, that should be the way – exercising with good diet control. Glad you discovered it too…

  • Nikki // May 27, 2008 at 12:29 AM

    My name is Nikki and I work for the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting accurate, science-based information about dietary supplements.

    I don’t know if you are aware of this, but GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Alli, has also petitioned the FDA to treat weight loss claims as disease claims, which many in the dietary supplement industry view as an attack on competing supplement products.

  • Bev // May 28, 2008 at 10:28 AM

    Thanks for this blog, though I can’t believe you’d say something like “What I like about GSK is that the company is being honest and upfront.” I seriously doubt that a company like Glaxo is ever honest or upfront about anything.

    Look around the web a bit and you’ll read about lots of other unreported dangers & side effects from this pill…and let’s not forget this is a company that covered up findings about paxil and avandia. I’m sure if there was a way they could have gotten away with not reporting certain (*ahem*) embarrassing side effects, they would have. I’ve also heard that they basically own the FDA, so the comment above about the FDA doesn’t surprise me.

    I’ve been struggling with my weight for years, but I’ll stick with exercise and sensible eating (or at least trying). Glaxo already gets enough of my family’s money from their other products.

  • Avery // May 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    DHEA is readily available as a supplement, sold in pharmacies, grocery stores, health food stores, and department stores.

    Diet pills have been used by women all over the world to lose weight effectively.

    Not everything that comes from a natural source is safe.

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