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Pharmacists to sell obesity drug

People looking to lose weight will be able to buy an anti-obesity drug without a prescription in UK pharmacies in the next few months.

Orlistat (alli) will be placed behind the counter so that pharmacists can question people buying the drug to ensure it is suitable for them.

Tablets will be available to patients with a BMI of 28 or more. A BMI of 28 is classed as overweight.

Preliminary approval was granted in October last year, but European regulators have now said that the drug, which is the first authorised non-prescription weight loss drug, can be made available in pharmacies.

A spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which makes orlistat, said the drug will cost patients £1.45 a day.

Professor Steve Field, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: "GPs would always advise patients to be cautious about taking slimming pills - especially those that can be obtained over the counter without seeing a GP first.

"Slimming pills might deliver a quick fix but the best way of losing weight and keeping it off is by making lifestyle changes - eating healthier and taking more exercise."

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