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Obesity drug prescriptions on the rise

The number of prescriptions for obesity drugs has risen sharply over the last seven years, according to a survey carried out by the NHS Information Centre.

The number of prescriptions for obesity drugs has risen sharply over the last seven years, according to a survey carried out by the NHS Information Centre. 

More than one million prescriptions are made for obesity drugs a year, which is eight times the number dispensed seven years ago, when 127,000 prescriptions for obesity drugs.  

The two main obesity drugs prescribed by GPs are Roche's Xenical (orlistat) and Abbott's Reductil (sibutramine).  

Xenical prevents the absorption of some fat in the intestine, and Reductil alters the chemical messages that control how a person feels and thinks about food. 

From January to June 2007 there were 613,000 prescriptions for obesity drugs in England. This is around 25 per cent more than the same period in 2006 (490,000). Around 73 per cent of prescriptions were for Xenical, and 25 per cent were for Reductil in 2006. 

Although cases of obesity are rising, the growth in obesity-related prescriptions is also due to the fact that more drugs are coming onto the market. Xenical was licensed in 1999 and given approval for use in young people in June 2005. Reductil was licensed in 2001.

31st March 2008

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