Weight loss pill available over the counter in the uk


Weight loss pill available over the counter in the uk

A weight loss pill that has been available on prescription for ten years and can help very overweight and obese people lose more weight than dieting alone is now available over the counter in the UK.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced earlier today that alli (orlistat 60 mg) is now on sale in pharmacies and chemists in the UK. The pill can help adults with a BMI of 28 kg/m2 or more lose 50 per cent more body weight than they would just by dieting. It will also be available in the rest of Europe during April and May.

A GSK statement describes alli (orlistat 60 mg) as the "first and only clinically proven, non-prescription, EU-licensed weight loss treatment in Europe". The safety and efficacy of orlistat has been proven in over 100 clinical studies, said the statement.

The version that will be on sale over the counter is half the strength and is better tolerated, but has 80 per cent of the efficacy of the prescription version, said the company. The prescription version (orlistat 120 mg) has been in use for 10 years.

GSK have an agreement with Roche, who market the prescription version (orlistat 120 mg), whereby they can seek authorization for non-prescription use of the 60 mg version, which was launched in the US in June 2007 as the only Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved weight loss drug available without prescription.

The recommended dose is one 60 mg capsule three times a day with meals that contain the recommended amount of fat. The drug is only indicated for use with a reduced calorie, lower fat diet in adults with a BMI of 28 kg/m2.

BMI stands for Body Mass Index and is calculated as a person's weight in kilos divided by their height in metres squared (kg/m2). For adults, a BMI of 18.5 to 25 kg/m2 is classed as Normal. Between 25 and 30 is classed as Overweight and over 30 is Obese. The scales for children are different.

According to the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 53 per cent of Europeans are either overweight or obese.

Orlistat works by blocking the action of two fat-digesting enzymes in the stomach and small intestine so that a significant proportion of consumed fat is not broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream but is excreted in the faeces instead.

Consumers should always read the label as the drug may not suit everyone and has some unpleasant side effects if used incorrectly.

Because it blocks the digestion of fat, if you take the pill when you have eaten a high fat meal you may find you have a lot of flatulence, or suddenly need to go to the toilet urgently, your stools may be oily and smelly, and you will get oily stains in your underwear. On the other hand these symptoms may encourage you to stick to a lower fat diet.

Women relying on the contraceptive pill are advised to use additional precautions.

There are many other circumstances when you should not take this pill, and you should always read the label and have a good talk to the pharmacist if you are thinking of buying it without seeing your doctor first.

GSK said they are training pharmacists to help them counsel consumers to ensure they only recommend alli to suitable patients.

You shouldn't buy the pill over the counter without seeing your doctor first if you are taking medication for diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol and the pharmacist should tell you this.

This move is a step toward UK pharmacists playing a bigger role in advising consumers about healthcare.

Dr Terry Maguire, a community pharmacist based in the UK commented in the GSK statement that:

"As pharmacies become more involved in providing health and lifestyle guidance for their customers, we welcome both the opportunity and the responsibility for pharmacy to play an integral role in helping people lose weight using alli and to live healthier lives."

GSK President for Consumer Healthcare Europe, Manfred Scheske, said they were very excited about the number of people alli could help in Europe, thanks to the "excellent commitment and support shown by pharmacists".

Sources: GSK Consumer Healthcare, NHS Direct.

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