The linkurl:US Food and Drug Administration; linkurl:announced yesterday; (August 24) that it was reviewing reports of liver injury -- including 6 cases of liver failure and 27 hospitalizations -- in patients taking the weight loss drug orlistat, marketed by linkurl:GlaxoSmithKline; (GSK) and linkurl:Roche.;
Image: Wikimedia commons
In 2007, GSK's formulation of orlistat, alli -- so named to sound connote an ally in weight loss -- became the first diet drug to be sold over-the-counter (OTC). GSK paid $100 million to purchase the licensing rights to orlistat from Switzerland-based manufacturer Roche, who developed and still markets the prescription version, Xenical. (The Scientist wrote about the deal and the lengthy process of turning orlistat into an OTC drug in a linkurl:feature article; last year.) In 2008, its first full year as an OTC diet drug, alli's sales were estimated at $500 million, with future projections of $1 billion annually, according to...

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