Xenical is used as a weight-loss treatment in people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Xenical is also called Orlistat.

What is Xenical?

Xenical is used as a weight loss treatment in people with a BMI of 30 or more, together with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise, as part of an overall weight-loss plan. BMI is calculated using your height and weight. Learn more about BMI.

Xenical prevents the absorption of some of the fat you eat. When taking it, you need to eat a well-balanced diet that is high in fruit and vegetables and with less than 30% of calories from fat. More fat in your diet will increase the side effects of this medicine. Your daily intake of fat, carbohydrates and protein should be spread out over 3 main meals.

In New Zealand, Xenical is available as capsules (120mg). Xenical can be purchased from pharmacies without a prescription. A pharmacist needs to ask you questions to make sure it is the best option for you and needs to record your name and address.

How to take Xenical

  • The usual dose of Xenical is 1 capsule up to 3 times a day.
  • Take Xenical with liquids while you are having a main meal or up to 1 hour afterwards.
  • If you miss a meal or eat a meal that contains no fat, you should skip that dose of Xenical. 
  • Because Xenical may decrease the amount of some vitamins that your body absorbs from food, you need to take a multivitamin supplement once a day.
  • Take the vitamin supplement at least 2 hours before or after taking Xenical.
  • You may also take your multivitamin supplement at bedtime. 

Things to consider before taking Xenical

If you have any of the following, please discuss your options with your healthcare provider before taking Xenical as it may not be suitable for you:

  • chronic malabsorption syndrome
  • cholestasis or problems with your gall bladder
  • kidney or liver problems
  • pregnant or breastfeeding.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, Xenical can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Common side effects are fatty or oily stools, wind, stomach cramps and bloating. These usually occur if your diet is too high in fat.

Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product

Learn more

The following links have more information on Xenical:

Orlistat NZ Formulary Patient Information
Xenical Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet


  1. Orlistat NZ Formulary 
  2. Weight loss: the options and the evidence BPAC, NZ, 2019
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 09 Nov 2020