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Over-the-counter obesity drug to go on sale

21 April 2009

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A drug to help people lose weight will be available to buy over the counter in pharmacies across the country this week.

The diet pill Alli, also known as orlistat, is claimed to help dieters shed weight and can be bought without a prescription from a GP.

Adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 28 or over can buy a four-week supply for £49.95 or a two-weeks supply for £32.95 following a consultation with a pharmacist. However, the drug is not suitable for children under the age of 18.

Alli works by absorbing 25% of the fat from food, preventing people taking the drug from gaining extra weight.

Trials found that taking Alli at the same time as having a low calorie, low fat diet helped people lose 50% more fat than dieting alone. However, side effects include diarrhoea.

The drug’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline, said that all pharmacists have been offered training on how best to identify a suitable recipient for the drug.

By asking suitable fielding questions on motivation for losing weight it is hoped that the right people will be given the drug.

Figures show that one in four (24%) of adults in the UK are now obese.

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