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Are Diet Pills Safe And Effective?

Of the thousands of weight loss pills and supplements out there, only a handful are FDA-approved. You can take out the diet supplements as they require no FDA testing and approval prior to being marketed. What you are left with are prescription diet pills all of which are FDA-approved.



Over The Counter

Most over-the-counter (OTC) drugs require no approval if they comply with the FDA-released OTC monograph listing approved substances, labeling standards and warnings as well as the guidelines for CGMPs or Current Good Manufacturing Practices. In fact, you often see some online ads of diet pills claiming their manufacturing process comply with it and use FDA-approved substances. But that doesn’t mean the OTC drug itself is.


To date there is only one approved OTC diet pill and this is Alli –the OTC variant of the prescriptive anti-obesity drug Orlistat under the brand Xenical. Alli, made by GlaxoSmithKline and approved by the FDA in February 2007 as an OTC diet pill, has half the pharmaceutical potency of Xenical and promises to get rid of 200 calories of fat form your diet each time.


The pill costs about $0.60 per day but must be consumed in conjunction with a healthy diet for it to be effective.  Just like Xenical, Alli works as a fat absorption blocker by attaching itself to lipids in the fat content of ingested foods. This fat-binding process allows you to pass about 30% of the fat to be excreted in your bowel movement.  


The other approved OTC diet pill is Phentermine which works on the hypothalamus of the brain to release Norepinephrine, a chemical messenger that signals reduced hunger pangs so you eat less frequently. It is therefore, an appetite suppressant. The FDA recommends this as a short-term drug for up to 12 weeks as its long term action is similar to amphetamines which is addictive.





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