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Weighing a Pill For Weight Loss


5 Star

Weighing a Pill For Weight Loss

Our Review Summary

This article is a balanced presentation about the risks and benefits of a weight lost drug (Xenical) that is currently marketed as the prescription medication Orlistat and is under current consideration by the FDA for over-the-counter distribution. Use of xenical along with diet and exercise can result in modest weight loss that may result in beneficial health outcomes. The common side effects (seen in ~70%) of consumers of this medication include flatulence, increased bowel movements, diarrhea and anal leakage.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


Estimates cost to be $2-3 /day.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


Provides at least a ball park estimate for people about the amount of weight that might be

anticipated to be lost with the use of this medication.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


The story explains that about 70% of users experience gastrointestinal

complications and lists some.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

While discussion of a particular study is provided, there is no information

about the nature of the study (i.e. randomized or not) and no details that would permit the reader to access the reference.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


Brief mention of

medical benefits that can be gained from the amount of weight loss attained with the use of xenical (e.g. lower BP, improved

cholesterol levels, reduced risk of diabetes).

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


Provides quotes from drug maker, researchers, and public watchdog organization

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


Article presents

information on weight loss results from xenical, diet, and exercise (7% of body weight) compared with diet and exercise (4%

of body weight) over a 4 year period. The story did not mention sibutramine, another prescription weight loss drug.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?



includes the fact that the switch in status from prescription only to OTC is under FDA consideration.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


Article is about a

medication, xenical, available by prescription that is being considered for sale as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug.

Total Score: 8 of 9 Satisfactory


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