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Friday 19th January 2018

Diet pills available over the counter

20th April 2009

A diet pill aimed at helping overweight people to lose weight will be put on sale by chemists in the UK this week.


The drug Orlistat, on sale as Alli, has been available on a prescription-only basis in the UK for more than a decade.

The pill, which will be sold for £50 for a month's dosage, can be bought from Wednesday 22 April.

It is targeted at people who have a body mass index of 28 or over.

GlaxoSmithKline, who manufacture Orlistat, said their trials had shown if the pills were taken in conjuction with a low-calorie diet they could help people to drop 50% more weight than restricting their diet alone.

However, the drug has some disagreeable side-effects, including diarrhoea and gas, which occur if the person taking the medication consumes too much fat.

The Royal College of GPs said that the drug should only be taken after consultation with a GP to ensure there were no contraindications - such as other conditions - which would mean it was unwise for a person to take the pills.

Dr Matt Capehorn of the National Obesity Forum said the drug's effectiveness and safety had been proven.

He added: "It is still only going to be available as part of a structured weight management programme."

David Pruce, director of policy and communication at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, stated he was in favour of the pills.

He said: "A lot of pharmacists are already helping people with weight management, and what this does is it gives us another weapon in the armoury to help people in the fight against obesity." 

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