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Alli, the orlistat-based pill

alliALLI is a less potent, non-prescription version of the prescription pill Xenical. Both contain the effective ingredient Orlistat.

In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the notorious FDA) indicated that warnings about this pill needed to be strengthened due to its potentially dangerous side effects.

So we ask, is Alli a safe diet pill, or should you be looking for another safer, risk-free fat catcher?

There was a time when this weight-loss product was available for sale everywhere, even in pharmacies in the UK.

Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly hard to find, even online.

Why is this? That’s what we’re going to try to find out through our investigation and tests.

Presentation of the Alli pill

Alli was first marketed in the USA in June 2007 as the only dietary weight-loss supplement approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

We had to wait two years for this pill to arrive in Europe. It wasn’t until 2009 that it was marketed as a less potent, over-the-counter variant of Roche’s Xenical, based on the same ingredient (read our test).

In fact, Xenical contains 120mg of the ingredient Orlistat, whereas Alli contains only half that amount, i.e. 60mg.

To find out more about this ingredient, we invite you to read our test on this subject.

At the outset, regulations stipulated that Alli should only be sold to people with a BMI over 28, i.e. a body mass index of 28.

The interpretation of this 28 index is: overweight.

This index is the standard defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to assess the risks associated with overweight and obesity. The various other statuses defined by this index are: morbid obesity, severe obesity, moderate obesity, overweight, normal corpulence, thinness and starvation.

For example, for a person with a height of 1.60 m, here are the different statuses according to weight:

  • – from 42kg: famine
  • from 42 to 47kg: lean ;
  • from 47 to 64kg: normal weight;
  • 64 to 77kg: overweight;
  • 77 to 90kg: moderate obesity;
  • 90 to 102kg: severe obesity;
  • Over 102kg: morbid obesity.

However, this rule was not really respected, and everyone knew that they could buy it without having to prove their BMI.

Alli is marketed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a British company that ranks seventh in the global pharmaceutical industry. The company employs over 100,000 people in 116 countries, including 15,000 researchers. Their range of medicines covers many fields: pneumology, HIV, diabetes, oncology, vaccinology, antibiotic therapy, thromobosis…

In 2011, they tried to sell the Alli brand along with other weight loss supplements they own. The results were far from what they had hoped for.

The Alli website is still in GSK’s name. The implication is that they apparently failed to sell the Alli brand.

What the Alli pill claims to do for you

Alli claims that for every kilo you lose by adjusting your diet, it will help you lose a further 500g.

How does it do this?

By blocking 40% of the fat you ingest at each meal, making your diet even healthier. The blocked fats are naturally expelled from the body with the stool.

Alli is neither a stimulant nor an appetite suppressant. It acts only on the digestive system. Alli prevents the absorption of part of the fat ingested. For every 2 kg you lose through your own efforts, Alli promises an additional 1 kg.

Alli promises a weight loss of 4.4kg over a period of 6 months, the maximum duration of use.

Alli is indicated for use as part of a low-calorie, low-fat diet.

Ingredients Alli

Alli belongs to the category of weight-loss drugs known as fat-busters, which aim to reduce the amount of fat absorbed as you eat.

Studies have shown that up to 25% of fat can be blocked by inhibiting the enzymes that break down fat in the intestine.

Undigested fats are then expelled naturally with the stool.

There is a single ingredient in its composition: Orlistat.

It’s an active ingredient found in the prescription drug Xenical. And since the initial dose in Xenical has been reduced to half, there’s no need for medical supervision.

This justifies the availability of Alli without the need for a prescription.

So, what is Orlistat?

1. ORLISTAT (60mg) :
Although clinically approved as a weight-loss aid, its concrete results have nonetheless been modest.

Several side effects reported by consumers led to the pill being labelled “Alli Oops”.

Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration reported liver damage in a small number of consumers.

For a more detailed look at this substance, we recommend this article.

Side effects Alli

The most worrying side effect of taking Alli is the liver damage experienced by a number of consumers, as reported by the FDA.

You can consult the FDA report on this subject via this link :
(Source: US Food and Drug Administration. Postmarket Drug Safety Information for Patients and Porviders. 05.26.2010).

It should be pointed out, however, that only 13 cases of liver damage were recorded between April 1999 and August 2009.

Other, more common side effects have also been reported.

The most common is diarrhea when taking Alli, which has given rise to the expression “Alli Oops”.

This unpleasant effect is due in part to the consistency of stools, which become oily and voluminous, resulting in an urgent need to evacuate.

Some users say they’ve had to go to the bathroom!

When taking Alli, it’s also advisable to take multivitamins with meals, as Alli can reduce levels of certain essential fat-soluble vitamins. This recommendation is essential to prevent deficiency.

Alli is not recommended for pregnant or breast-feeding women.

Anyone taking warfarin or cyclosporine should not take Alli.

In 2010, the FDA announced that Alli should indicate the risk of liver damage to consumers.

And finally, here’s the warning issued by the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) concerning the risk of hepatotoxicity with Orlistat, Alli and Xenical. The ANSM has announced the risk of rare but serious liver damage when taking Orlistat. Further on in its press release, this official body cites serious cases of liver damage reported, leading in some cases to liver transplantation or even death!

Here’s the link to the full ANSM report: (Source : ANSM. Information point of 09/23/2011)

Testimonials Alli users

Testimonials from Alli users are contradictory.

Some are positive:
The best weight loss supplement in combination with a healthy diet. Easy to take with every meal. I’ve tried others and Alli is the best.
When others are negative:
All this product did was confine me to the bathroom all day long. But it had absolutely no effect on my weight.
Complaints recorded by consumers mainly concerned the urgent, uncontrollable and frequent need to go to the toilet.

However, we remain rather sceptical about testimonials whose authenticity cannot be verified.

To sum up, does Alli make you lose weight?

There are a good number of studies indicating that Orlistat can be used to combat obesity.

Clinical trials carried out by GSK have shown that:
“When used in combination with a low-calorie, low-fat diet, it can help people lose 50% more weight than with diets alone.”
However, trials of Orlistat have produced different results.

One study showed a mere 5-10% reduction in body mass after 12 months of experimentation.

The same study showed that subjects regained up to 35% of their body weight when they stopped taking Orlistat!

You can find more information at this link: (source : RxList. ).

It seems that Alli can produce modest weight loss, but that Orlistat, its main and only component, can cause considerable digestive discomfort.

Find out more about Orlistat side effects :
(Source: NCBI Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Center, Ontario, Canada. Padwal R., Li SK., Lau DC. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 2004; (3): CD004094.).

The links are only available in English, but they’re worth the detour to get a better idea.

Where buy Alli?

Alli used to be available everywhere, including pharmacies, online and even TV shopping shows.

Today, Alli seems to be completely unavailable online and in stores.

Retailers who used to sell Alli display the message “Alli will be out of stock for some time”.

We found this online store which offers three Alli packs:

  • 1 month’s treatment for : 79,99€.
  • 2 months’ treatment: €151.99, a saving of 5%.
  • 3 months’ treatment for €215.99, a saving of 10%.

The recommended dosage is 3 pills a day. This product contains 60mg of orlistat and has been approved by the FDA in the United States and the EMA in Europe.

AFSSAPS underlines the following indications:

  • Physicians and pharmacists: to inform patients of the possibility of liver damage;
  • Patients should immediately report any symptoms of liver damage to their doctor. These symptoms include fatigue, yellowing of the skin and eyes, stomach ache and liver sensitivity.
  • If any of these symptoms occur, discontinue treatment immediately and have a liver test performed.


Warning, this product is no longer on sale. Instead, I advise you to take a look at this serious alternative which has already proved its worth: PhenQ!

Our Opinion on Alli

By following a low-calorie diet and getting enough exercise, Alli could give modest weight loss at the best of times.

We don’t see why you have to suffer annoying side effects and pay a lot of money for such poor results.

Especially as it seems impossible to find Alli at the moment!

When it comes to effective, safer and less expensive fat catchers, there are several like Proactol XS (read test), renowned for its efficacy and 100% natural composition.

In the words of ANSM, weight loss is neither harmless nor without health consequences. It must be part of a global, individualized and long-term approach, under the supervision of a doctor.

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