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This medication is used along with a doctor-approved reduced-calorie diet, exercise, and behavior modification program to help significantly overweight (obese) persons lose weight. Taking orlistat can also help prevent you from regaining the weight you have lost. Losing weight and keeping it off can reduce the many health risks that obesity causes, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer, certain breathing problems, and a shorter life span.
Dietary fats need to be broken down into smaller pieces before the body can absorb them. Orlistat works by blocking the enzyme that breaks down fats in your diet. This undigested fat then passes out of your body in your bowel movement. Orlistat does not block the absorption of calories from sugar and other non-fat foods, so you still need to restrict your total intake of calories.
How to Use This Medication
If you are taking the over-the-counter product to self-treat, read all directions on the product package before taking this medication.
If your doctor has prescribed this medication, read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your pharmacist before you start taking orlistat and each time you get a refill. Take this medication as directed by your doctor, by mouth with liquid sometime during each meal that contains fat or within 1 hour after the meal, usually 3 times daily. If you miss a meal or your meal contains no fat, skip that dose of the medication. To decrease the chance of unpleasant side effects, it is very important that no more than 30% of the calories in your diet come from fat. Your daily intake of fat, protein, and carbohydrates should be evenly spread over 3 main meals.
Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase.
Because this drug can interfere with the absorption of certain vitamins (fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, E, K), a daily multivitamin supplement containing these nutrients is recommended. Take the multivitamin at least 2 hours before or 2 hours after taking orlistat (such as at bedtime).
If you take cyclosporine, take it at least 3 hours before or after orlistat to make sure the full dose of cyclosporine is absorbed into your bloodstream. If you take levothyroxine, take it at least 4 hours before or after orlistat.
You should see some weight loss within 2 weeks after you start orlistat. Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.
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Information expires June 2016.