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Systematic review with meta-analysis
Orlistat reduces weight but its cost–effectiveness remains unclear
  1. Lennert Veerman
  1. School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Lennert Veerman
    The University of Queensland, School of Population Health, Herston Road, Herston, Queensland 4006, Australia; l.veerman{at}

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Commentary on: Ara R, Blake L, Gray L, et al. What is the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of using drugs in treating obese patients in primary care? A systematic review. Health Technol Assess 2012;16:1–195.

Implications for practise and research

  • Ara and colleagues studied the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of weight-reducing drugs and found that they provide statistically significant weight loss and are worth the investment.

  • The analysis contains several unwarranted assumptions, notably around the amount of weight lost, subsequent weight regained and the permanency of weight loss. Definitive conclusions cannot be drawn from this study.


Obesity is a large and growing health problem. For patients unable to achieve sufficient weight loss by improving their lifestyle, weight-reducing drugs are a treatment option. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of three pharmacological interventions (orlistat, sibutramine and …

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  • Competing interests None.