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Xenical: weight loss medication explained

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 5 minutes read

Losing weight can be extremely challenging for some people. Being overweight can have significant health risks, so it’s important to try to lose it. If a change in diet and regular exercise hasn’t helped, you may need the aid of a weight loss drug like Xenical.

In this guide, we’ll explain what Xenical is, how to use it correctly and how you can get it. Read on to find out more.

What is Xenical?

Xenical is a weight loss medication that contains the active ingredient orlistat. Xenical 120mg is a branded prescription treatment that comes in the form of a capsule. It’s able to prevent a third of the dietary fat that you consume from being digested.

Xenical is the branded prescription version of orlistat. It works in the same way as orlistat, however it is more expensive. It’s used as a weight loss aid when traditional methods like diet and exercise alone are not working.

How to use Xenical

Xenical should be used as directed on the label or as recommended by your doctor. You should not take it for longer than prescribed or in different amounts.

In order to get the best results using Xenical, a capsule should be taken 3 times a day with each meal if the meal has fat in it. If you miss a meal or have a meal that doesn’t have any fat, you should skip your Xenical dose.

The fat content of your daily diet should be less than 30% of the daily calories you consume. If you have 1,500 calories that day, the total fat should not be higher than 450 calories.

You will need to closely monitor the amount of calories you consume each day and pay attention to the nutritional labels of your food. Your doctor or a nutritionist will be able to help you create a healthy diet that will ensure you don’t consume too many calories, including fats.

Your daily intake of fat, protein and carbohydrates should be divided as closely as possible over all of your daily meals.

You should not share this medication with anyone else. Store at room temperature away from sunlight, heat and moisture. Keep the bottle tightly closed. If you have any leftover Xenical that has passed the expiration date on packaging, you should throw it away.

Along with a healthy low fat diet, you should also exercise regularly to increase the chances of losing weight while using Xenical.

What to do if you miss a dose

If you miss a dose, you have up to 1 hour after eating your meal to take it. If it’s been longer than this, you should skip this dosage. Do not take an extra capsule with your next meal to try and make up for the missed dose.

If you have taken an overdose, you should seek medical help right away. Call your doctor for advice if you or someone else does not appear to be seriously ill.

If the signs of an overdose are serious, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department.

Can anyone use Xenical?

Xenical should only be used by people who are classed as obese. Your doctor will only prescribe it to those with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 and over, or 27 kg/m2 and over if you have any health associated risk factors.

It’s not suitable for you if you:

  • are breastfeeding

  • are pregnant or trying to become pregnant

  • have gallbladder problems

  • are allergic to orlistat

Xenical has not been approved to be used by those under the age of 12.

Is Xenical safe for weight loss?

As long as you follow the instructions on the label, or your doctor’s advice, Xenical should be a perfectly safe treatment option to help you lose weight.

It’s important you meet all the requirements before using. You should be 30 kg/m2 and over, or 27 kg/m2 and over if you have any health associated risk factors. It’s not recommended for anyone under 12 years old.

You should not use Xenical if you’re allergic to any of its ingredients. It’s also not suitable if you’re pregnant as it can make it more difficult for your body to absorb vitamins that are necessary to help your baby develop while in the womb. If you become pregnant, you should stop taking Xenical immediately and let your doctor know.

You should inform your doctor if you’ve ever had any of the following:

Does Xenical have any side effects?

All medicines have the potential to cause side effects and Xenical can, too. Some common side effects from using it include:

  • Oily or fatty stools

  • Oily stains on your underwear

  • Orange or brown colored oil in your stool

  • Having flatulence (gas)

  • An oily discharge

  • Loose stools, a sudden need to go to the toilet or loss of control of your bowel movements

  • An increased number of bowel movements

  • Stomach pain or rectal pain

  • Feeling nauseous

These are some of the common side effects which are often temporary and may potentially lessen as your treatment continues.

You should stop taking Xenical immediately and contact your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Severe stomach pain

  • Severe lower back pain

  • Any difficulty, pain or blood in your urine

  • Develop any kidney problems; signs can include struggling to urinate, swollen feet or ankles, tiredness or shortness of breath

  • Liver problems; signs can include feeling nauseous, upper stomach pain, itching, feeling fatigued, loss of appetite, dark-colored urine, clay-colored stools or jaundice (yellowing skin or eyes)

If you notice any other side effects that you are concerned about, contact your doctor or call 911 (if it’s a medical emergency).

Can Xenical be purchased over the counter?

You will need a prescription to purchase Xenical.

You can purchase orlistat in a lower strength over the counter by the brand name Alli.

Are there any other drugs that will affect Xenical?

Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any of the following medications:

  • amiodarone

  • insulin or diabetes medicine like Wegovy

  • HIV or AIDS medications

  • seizure medicine (especially if the ingredient orlistat makes your seizures worse)

  • vitamin or mineral supplements that contain beta-carotene or vitamin E

  • a blood thinner like warfarin

Is Xenical or orlistat better?

The only difference between the two is that Xenical is the branded version. Chemically, they are designed the same way so you will have the same possibility of success using either Xenical or orlistat.

Xenical will require a prescription to purchase and is more expensive. If you’re on a budget, orlistat in the form of Alli may be the best option for you, and this can be purchased without a prescription.

Contact us if you have any questions about Xenical or have any other medical related questions.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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