Obese patients will this week be able to buy anti-obesity drug Orlistat from UK pharmacies without the need for a prescription, it has been announced.
Orlistat (also known as Alli) comes as a four-week course costing £49.95, or a two-week supply sold at £32.95, and can be obtained without the need for a GP appointment.
All that will be required is a brief consultation with a pharmacist to work out whether the consumer has a body mass index (BMI) of 28 or over - the figure at which the pills will be made available. A BMI of 28 is classed as overweight while over 30 is obese.
Tests show that patients lose weight when taking Alli alongside a reduced-calorie, lower-fat diet because the drug absorbs about a quarter of the fat from food, thereby preventing it being turned into fat on the body.
The pill’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline, said all UK pharmacists have been offered training to help them correctly work out a person’s BMI and have been told to ask people about their medical history.
Research shows almost a quarter (24%) of adults in the UK are now obese. The drug is not suitable for children under the age of 18.