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Friday, 30 September 2005 11:06
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Concern over Boots’ weight loss drug scheme
Doctors have expressed concern over a change in the rules governing the weight loss drug Xernical which means patients can now pick it up in pharmacies without needing a doctors prescription.

GPs yesterday warned that pharmacists would not have the necessary information on the patient and said that patients may decide to use the drug without modifying their diet and exercise patterns, a requirment for getting a prescription.

The National Obesity Forum recommends that only those who have tried for three months to loose weight through a change in lifestyle should receive the drug.

Xenical, also known as Orlistat, causes the body to excrete fat by preventing its absorption by the lower intestine. Users must maintain a low-fat diet or face side effects including loss of bowel control.

Now patients who enrol on weight loss programmes at around 100 branches of Boots across the country will be able to get it. – providing they are classed as obese (having a body mass index of 30 or more).

Boots said that blood pressure and glucose levels would be measured before medication was administered and added that a pilot of the scheme in Manchester had been a success, with participants losing an average of 6.5 per cent of their body weight over three months, and 13.4 per cent over nine months.

Steve Churton, assistant pharmaceutical superintendent at Boots said: "People often don't like going to their GPs about weight loss. By having this programme available through consultation with a pharmacist we are making it more accessible for those who want to try this effective approach to losing weight."

But Dr Jim Kennedy, chairman of the Royal College of GPs prescribing committee, said he had “substantial concerns” about the Boots scheme.

"We have particular concerns about the treatment of conditions such as obesity with drugs because it has to be a very holistic approach and drugs would be only one very minor part of that," he said.

"We would be worried about how the pharmacists would know about the background of the patient and how they would stop people being able to get two or three times the normal amount by simply going to several stores."

A Boots spokesperson said the company would take a detailed medical history of customers and post it to their GP to update medical records.


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