For the last few months, many patients using the weight loss drug Xenical have had trouble refilling their prescriptions, as chemists and online healthcare providers have had limited stock of the medication.
Websites and forums are now full of comments from frustrated patients speculating as to the reasons behind the stock shortages reported by the manufacturer Roche, but unfortunately the information released to the public has been limited.
In January Roche announced that it was having “manufacturing issues” with the production of orlistat, the active ingredient in Xenical. The production plant located in South Carolina, USA, has continued to produce most of its other medication as usual, and the complications seem to have only applied to the ingredients in weight loss medication Xenical and the red blood cell stimulator known as Micera.
According to Roche, the reason behind the production problems was a non-compliance with the Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines, which has led to the company temporarily discontinuing orlistat.
Despite speculations, no concerns have been raised regarding the safety of orlistat, which is currently the only weight loss prescription medication available. Xenical has been approved by the EMA in Europe and the FDA in the US and there is no record of further investigation into any potential problems with the product.
Orlistat is still being used in the weight loss supplement Alli, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. Due to high demand, Alli is currently out of stock in most countries but will reportedly be available again by mid-June.
A generic version of Xenical (which also contains orlistat and works in exactly the same way as the branded product) is now being sold in its place, although supplies are running low and patients are advised they may not be able to purchase their medication immediately.
Although euroClinix is able to offer Xenical to its patients, there is limited stock available and we are unable to guarantee that there will be a full supply of the medication. Roche anticipates that production will resume as normal later in the year, most likely around September.