Latest Drugs Like Alli Force Undesirable Changes in Lifestyle, Say Critics

by Medindia Content Team on August 8, 2007 at 12:02 PM
Latest Drugs Like Alli Force Undesirable Changes in Lifestyle, Say Critics

Alli, the brand name of GlaxoSmithKline's diet-drug Orlistat, does offer a weight-loss regimen that does not make you sweat it out.

Rather it will help you shed pounds by inhibiting your body's ability to absorb fat, its manufacturers say.


It is all fine, but what all one endures in the process? The newly excess fat exits your body by means of 'gas with oily spotting, loose stools, or more frequent stools that may be harder to control.'

The drug's promotional materials suggest that you should, at least initially, wear dark pants and bring a change of clothes to work. The pills are sold as part of an extensive kit, complete with a personalized website that helps you regulate your diet in such a way as to minimize or eliminate possible 'treatment effects.'

In effect, a\Alli lets you poop yourself skinny, critics note caustically and warn that adhering to the drug's stringent usage requirements is not easy.

In fact, it requires lifestyle changes difficult for most people. As a result, the Alli treatment experience becomes larger than the treatment itself, notes author John Fischer.

Already The Alli Diet Plan, written by Dr. Caroline Apovian, director of the Nutrition and Weight Loss Management Center at Boston University Medical Center, is out.

The book is full of helpful recipes specifically designed to "maximize your results from Alli(tm), the only FDA-approved over-the-counter weight loss aid."

The product add-ons themselves are potentially limitless: an Alli cross-branded set of clothing in dark colors, complete with a small absorbent replaceable pad; an Alli branded wrist-watch, to keep track of the usual duration between your meal and your treatment effect; or Alli-approved meal options at participating fast food chains. The list could go on indefinitely.

Alli, like many new drugs, blurs the distinction between treatment and lifestyle. In much the same way that Zoloft modifies your sex drive and your drinking habits, or that Lunesta affects your driving abilities, Alli requires that to cure what ails you, you must accept new realities about what your life will be like.

Zoloft is a prescription medicine that treats depression and anxiety. It belongs to a class of drugs known as SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors).

Certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are associated with depression, including the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Some research suggests that abnormalities in neurotransmitter activity affect mood and behavior. SSRIs seem to relieve symptoms of depression by blocking the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin by certain nerve cells in the brain. This leaves more serotonin available in the brain.

As a result, this enhances neurotransmission — the sending of nerve impulses — and improves mood. SSRIs are called selective because they seem to affect only serotonin, not other neurotransmitters.

But the most common Zoloft side effects are dry mouth, insomnia, sexual side effects, diarrhea, nausea, and sleepiness.

Lunesta is used to treat insomnia. This medication causes relaxation to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Again Lunesta can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. You may still feel sleepy the morning after taking the medication. Until you know how this medication will affect you during waking hours, be careful if you drive, operate machinery, pilot an airplane, or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

Do not drink alcohol while you are taking Lunesta. It can increase some of the side effects of Lunesta, including drowsiness. Lunesta may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. So goes the warning.

Fischer points out all these drugs offer an increasingly common trade-off: the key to your health lies in conceding parts of your lifestyle -- whether your sleeping habits, your shopping habits or your eating habits -- to a pharmaceutical.

Advanced medicine is now capable of curing and treating a historically unprecedented number of diseases and conditions, true.

But, as typified by Alli, the convergence of medical science and commerce is changing the types of choices we make about our health: whereas lifestyle trade-offs have always been de rigueur for lifesaving treatments, the pharmaceutical industry now offers us the opportunity to radically change our lives based on what is possible, no longer simply what is necessary.

From the four humors to the hysterectomy, history has proven that our commonly held concepts of wellbeing, illness, and treatment are nearly always supplanted by better information.

In our modern race to find both a new drug for every disorder and a disorder for every new drug, it would be wise to consider that without an equal emphasis on advancing our understandings of illness, treatment, and health itself, our forward movement may actually be sideways.

Adjusting our expectations of our lifestyles to meet the requirements of new drugs may prove to be very much like the historical practice of using mercury to treat syphilis: an effective solution for the present, but a dangerous precedent for the future.

Source: Medindia
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