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Chemists to sell new diet pill

Dieters will soon be able to pick up an over-the-counter pill that its makers claim will help shed pounds by absorbing some of the fat from food.

Those looking to lose weight will be able to pick up Alli (also known as orlistat) from pharmacies without the need for prescriptions.

A four-week supply costing £49.95, or a two-week course at £32.95, will be available to adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 28 or over, after a consultation with a pharmacist. Obese people are classed as having a BMI of more than 30.

Its maker, GlaxoSmithKline, said the drug absorbs about 25% of the fat from food, thereby preventing it being turned into extra weight to be carried around.

The pharmaceutical giant said that all pharmacists in the UK have been offered training to help them correctly identify a person's BMI and ask them suitable "fielding" questions regarding their motivation for taking the drug. Health professionals will also be told to ask people about their medical history.

Almost one in four (24%) of adults in the UK are now obese. The drug is not suitable for children under the age of 18.

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