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Anti-obesity drugs costing NHS £5m

Anti-obesity drugs for patients in Scotland are costing the NHS approaching £5 million a year, new figures have suggested.

Last year, a total of £4.89m was spent, compared to £4.12m the year before, and the amount of obesity drugs prescribed is five times higher than it was in 2001.

More than 104,000 items of the three drug types used were prescribed last year, more than 14,000 more than the year before.

About 9,500 people use one of the three drugs on a daily basis, meaning the bill for the NHS has gone up £770,000 over a year.

The general prescribing of orlistat, which blocks the absorption of fat, and the appetite-suppressant sibutramine, have increased.

A third drug, rimonabant, also an appetite suppressant, has been recently introduced.

Scottish public health minister Shona Robison said: "While these figures relate to only 0.2% of the population, the Scottish government recognises that obesity is an increasing problem and poses a serious threat to health.

"This is why we are taking steps to avert the onset of unhealthy weight, particularly early in life, as a high priority."

Over the next three years some £56.5 million will be spent on obesity, healthy eating and physical activity initiatives, she said.

NHS Direct - Obesity

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