It has emerged that the first over-the-counter slimming pill could go on sale in Britain as early as next year.
Alli’s manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) claims that the pill, which has been available in the US since June, can help people lose 50% more weight than by diet alone.
But users can also experience unpleasant side effects, including wind and diarrhoea, and doctors have warned that drugs are no substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Orlistat, the active ingredient in Alli, does not affect appetite but works by preventing the body from absorbing some fats in food.
GSK has revealed that it has now applied to the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) for permission to sell Alli over-the-counter in Europe.
If the EMEA approves the application, GSK will be granted a licence to sell Alli without prescription in all 27 European Union member countries.
John Clarke, president of GSK consumer healthcare, said: “We want to see people achieving gradual, sustained weight loss by using Alli in tandem with a healthy eating, low-fat diet and increased exercise.
“We’ve said all along that this is no magic pill. If people are looking for a quick fix, this is not it but it is a powerful motivator, helping people lose up to 50% more weight than with diet alone.”
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