Inconsistent Demand for Dieter's Little Helper

He said he does not feel that anyone who can adjust their lifestyle as the manufacturer recommends needs the drug to lose weight, and suspects that some users will end up worse off.

"I can see where some people will get fatter," said Snell, who expects many users will take the pills and then eat Big Macs guilt-free.

"It's going to give them a license to go ahead and do the things they shouldn't be doing," he said.

Variations in Demand

Demand for the product appears just as varied as pharmacists' opinions. Pharmacies contacted for this article in Alabama, Illinois, Arizona and North Carolina reported no questions about Alli. Others were flooded.

"I would say in the last week or so we've gotten 20 or 30 phone calls from people who want it," said Barry Walton of Mac's Medicine Mart in Kingsport, Tenn., which expects its first shipment of Alli to arrive Saturday.

Walton is among a number of pharmacists who expect the drug to have heavy demand at first but then level off.

"I expect it's probably going to be a pretty big seller for a little while, but then it will probably level off. I'm not sure people will appreciate the side effects as far as seepage out of the rectum," he said.

More Than Just Fat Loss

One concern shared by many pharmacists is that Alli's fat-blocking properties will also block the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins in the body, leading to vitamin deficiencies.

"I'm pretty big on vitamins, and that is a concern," said Walton.

Despite his support for the drug, Edloe shares the vitamin concerns and said that is a reason why only healthy people should use Alli.

But all the pharmacists agreed that people should not take Alli without first doing what they should do before beginning any diet: talk to their doctor.

"If people are going to consider purchasing that, they really ought to talk to their pharmacist or physician first," said Walton.

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