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New treatment for obesity patients. People who suffer from obesity and obesity-related risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes now have a new treatment option. Xenical, a prescription lipase inhibitor, or fat blocker, has had two years of clinical trials conducted at Boston Medical Center

Almost 100 million Americans are overweight or obese. This is the second-leading cause of preventable death in the United States after smoking. The condition is associated with an increase in serious health risks, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Studies show that a 5 percent reduction in weight improves health outcomes significantly in obese patients.

Xenical works by blocking the absorption of dietary fat by approximately a third. Unlike anti-obesity medications that work in the brain to suppress appetite, Xenical works locally in the gastrointestinal tract and is not associated with negative cardiovascular side effects.

"Xenical is the first antiobesity drug of its kind and offers a completely new treatment option for obesity," says Dr. Robert Lerman, BUSM clinical associate professor and the study's principal investigator. "Our clinical trials suggest that Xenical's unique action mechanism will play a critical role in the management of obesity and improve the serious obesity-related risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. We expect Xenical to begin a promising new era in weight management."

In the clinical trials, dieting patients who took Xenical lost an average of 50 percent more weight than those on a diet alone. Patients who lost weight with Xenical also showed improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels after one year.

"Research Briefs" is written by Joan Schwartz in the Office of the Provost. To read more about BU research, visit


15 May 2003
Boston University
Office of University Relations