pack of orlistat 120mg capsules

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Orlistat

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pack of orlistat 120mg capsules

Orlistat is a prescription weight loss tablet that changes how your body absorbs fat from food. It starts working within 2 days, and you should start to see weight loss within a few weeks of taking it.

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Orlistat - 1 month course £49.99
Orlistat - 3 month course £144.99

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About Orlistat

Orlistat is a prescription medication that helps you lose weight if you are overweight or obese. It helps you lose weight by reducing the amount of fat your body absorbs when eating. Instead of being absorbed, this fat leaves your body when you go to the toilet. You take Orlistat capsules 3 times a day - 1 with each meal.

Who can use orlistat?

Orlistat is used as a weight loss treatment if you meet certain conditions. To use orlistat, you must have a:
  • BMI over 28 and a medical condition that can be affected by your weight, like diabetes
  • BMI of 30 or above

Orlistat works by reducing how much fat your body absorbs from meals. It does this by attaching to an enzyme called lipase, which helps your body absorb fat. Orlistat stops lipase from breaking down around a third of the fat from your meal. Instead, the fat is not absorbed and is excreted.

How long does orlistat last?

Orlistat lasts for 1 meal and is prescribed for up to 3 meals a day. It will keep working for as long as you use it.

How long does orlistat take to work?

Orlistat can take around 24-48 hours to start working when you first start taking it.
You should start to see weight loss results within a few weeks of taking orlistat, as long as you take it properly. 

How effective is orlistat?

Recent trials have shown that the average weight loss for participants when taking Orlistat was 50 percent higher than participants given a placebo. So if you could lose 6 kg on a regular diet, you could lose up to 9 kg with Orlistat. It was also shown that those taking Orlistat maintained weight loss better than in the placebo group.
Orlistat should be taken up to 3 times a day and only with a meal that contains fat. It can be taken before, during, or up to 1 hour after your meal. Take it whole with a glass of water.

How long do you need to take orlistat for?

If, after 12 weeks of taking orlistat, you have lost at least 5% of your starting weight, you can continue taking orlistat for as long as you need. Your doctor will regularly review your treatment. 

If you have not, your doctor might stop orlistat and recommend an alternative treatment.

Can I buy orlistat online?

Yes, but orlistat must be prescribed by a doctor before you can. You should only get orlistat from a trusted online doctor service, such as Superdrug Online Doctor. Ordering orlistat is easy through our website. Simply complete a brief medical questionnaire which a doctor will review. If orlistat is suitable for you, your order will be processed. The treatment will be sent to your home in discreet packaging.

Can I buy orlistat over the counter?

No, normal dose orlistat is a prescription only medication, so you cannot get it over the counter. Though you can buy a lower dose version of orlistat (Alli) over the counter from most chemists.

Can I get orlistat on the NHS?

Yes, you can get orlistat on the NHS. You will need to see your GP first. You may be given orlistat or a branded version of the same medication, like Xenical.

Orlistat usually has side effects at the start of treatment as your body gets used to the medication. These side effects are mild and more likely to occur if you do not stick to eating low fat meals. You can speak to your doctor if your side effects last longer than a few weeks or if they bother you too much.


Very common side effects include:

  • headaches
  • wind
  • oily discharge from your bottom
  • leaking when passing wind
  • diarrhoea
  • oily or fatty stools
  • pain or discomfort in your stomach
  • low blood sugar in patients who have type 2 diabetes
  • an urge to poop more urgently or frequently
  • infections of your nose and throat or influenza
Common side effects include:

  • bloating
  • tiredness
  • soft stools
  • discomfort or pain in your bottom
  • menstrual cycle changes
  • teeth and gum problems
  • bowel incontinence, which is trouble controlling your stools
  • chest or urine infection
Some other side effects include:

  • allergic reactions
  • changes to your blood tests
  • skin blisters
  • liver or kidney problems
  • pancreatitis
  • gallstones
  • hepatitis
  • bleeding from your back passage
  • inflammation of your bowel
These side effects have not been reported frequently enough to determine if they are very common or common. You can find more information on the side effects of orlistat on your leaflet pack.

How long do orlistat side effects last?

Orlistat side effects should not last longer than a few weeks. This tends to happen whilst your body is getting used to the medication. 

What to do if you get orlistat side effects

If you get side effects, make sure you only eat the recommended amount of fat every day. This can reduce very common side effects such as diarrhoea and oily stools. Speak to your doctor if you need any more help with your side effects or if they do not go away.


Most side effects will go away, but if you get serious side effects such as an allergic reaction, severe abdominal pain, or bleeding from your bum, go to A&E or call 999 straight away. 

Is orlistat safe?

Yes, orlistat is safe but should only be taken if prescribed. Our online doctors will make sure orlistat is safe and suitable for you before prescribing.
If you take some medications or have certain health conditions, orlistat may not work. These conditions and medications may also cause orlistat to be less effective or potentially unsafe. Due to this, you should always speak to your doctor if you take any medication or have other medical conditions. 

Contraindications

Orlistat is not suitable and should not be taken if you:

  • are under 18
  • are breastfeeding
  • have cholestasis, which is a liver disorder
  • have problems absorbing nutrients, known as chronic malabsorption syndrome
  • are allergic to orlistat or any other ingredients in the capsules
Orlistat is also not recommended if you are pregnant or think you are pregnant. If you have any other health conditions, speak to your doctor before taking orlistat.

Medications that interact with orlistat

Some medications can interact with orlistat, meaning the medication will not work as it should. These include:

  • HIV treatment
  • medication for depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
  • some heart medications, such as amiodarone
  • a diabetic medication called acarbose
  • warfarin and some other blood thinning drugs
  • ciclosporin, which is used for rheumatoid arthritis 
  • medications for hypothyroidism, such as levothyroxine and iodine salts
  • epilepsy medication
You should speak to your doctor if you take any medications, as some doses may need to be adjusted when taking orlistat. This includes diabetic medication, as your dose may be based on your current weight. 

If you are taking the contraceptive pill, you should speak to your doctor about other forms of contraception or use a condom. Orlistat can occasionally cause severe diarrhoea, which can affect how the oral contraceptive pill works.
Superdrug Online Doctor currently offers alternative treatments for weight loss, which are other weight loss pills and the weight loss injection (saxenda). 

Orlistat vs Xenical

Orlistat and Xenical are the same medication, but Xenical is a branded medication. They both contain orlistat 120 mg and work the same way.

Orlistat vs Mysimba

Whilst Orlistat changes how you absorb fat, Mysimba affects the receptors in your brain. Mysimba is taken once to twice a day and can change the signals that affect your energy levels and appetite. This can help you to eat less as you feel less hungry. It can also stop cravings. Mysimba contains 2 active ingredients, which are naltrexone and bupropion hydrochloride.

Orlistat vs Saxenda

Orlistat is a tablet taken by mouth, whereas Saxenda is an injectable weight loss pen. It contains the active ingredient liraglutide. Like Mysimba, Saxenda affects the receptors in your brain that control your hunger levels. As it makes you feel less hungry, reducing your calorie intake and losing weight is easier.

Obesity (2019) NHS (accessed 22 April 2022)

Xenical 120 mg hard capsules (2017) EMC (accessed 22 April 2022) Obesity Treatment (2019) NHS [Accessed 09 May 2022]

About Online Doctor

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See our About Us page to learn more.

Reviewed by: Dr Clair Grainger in line with the Superdrug Online Editorial Process.

GMC no. 7041314

Dr Grainger studied at the University of Edinburgh and worked in hospitals before becoming a GP. She has an interest in respiratory, and sexual and reproductive health.

Last reviewed on: 18/05/22