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
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.