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J Clin Pharmacol. 1995 Nov;35(11):1103-8.

Review of limited systemic absorption of orlistat, a lipase inhibitor, in healthy human volunteers.

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Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., Nutley, New Jersey 07110-1199, USA.


Orlistat, a lipase inhibitor, acts locally in the gastrointestinal tract. Systemic absorption is not required for its efficacy, but knowledge of the extent of its systemic absorption is important for its safe use in obese patients, the intended target population. Pharmacokinetic screening was carried out by monitoring plasma concentrations of unchanged orlistat in 25 phase 1 studies (including two mass balance studies) in normal and obese healthy volunteers. The results of these studies indicate an extremely low degree of systemic absorption for orlistat when administered with a hypocaloric, well-balanced diet with 20% to 30% of calories derived from fat (50-80 gm). To further characterize the pharmacokinetics and excretion pathways of orlistat, two mass balance studies using 14C-labeled orlistat were conducted. After oral dosing of radiolabeled orlistat with a fatty meal (28-30 gm fat), almost the entire dose was recovered from fecal samples; little was found in plasma and urine. It is concluded that systemic absorption of orlistat is negligible; at a clinically efficacious dose level, orlistat is unlikely to produce systemic lipase inhibition.

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