Anti-obesity tablets cleared by EU for sale in UK pharmacies
The drug will be placed behind the counter in chemists, and pharmacy assistants will question patients to make sure the drug is suitable for them.
European regulators yesterday granted the licence to allow Orlistat (alli) to be available in pharmacies.
A spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which makes the drug, said the cost to patients in the UK would be similar to that in the United States, which at present is $2 (1.45) a day.
It is the first time the European Commission has authorised a non-prescription weight-loss drug, he added.
Tablets will be available to adults with a BMI of 28 or more in all 27 EU countries. A BMI of 28 is classed as overweight, while more than 30 is obese.
James Hallatt, the general manager of GSK Consumer Healthcare UK, said: "Receiving a licence for alli heralds a significant milestone which may contribute to relieving the growing burden of obesity in the UK.
"We are pleased that we can offer a new, clinically proven option for thousands of people who struggle to lose weight. Alli is not a magic pill, but it can help people lose more weight than dieting alone.
"Alli has been available in the US for over a year and been tried by millions of people, helping sensible dieters achieve significant weight loss."
Dr David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: "Medically proven licensed products give consumers the option of something which can genuinely support meaningful weight loss. For many, losing weight can become the catalyst to improvements in their overall health and self-esteem."