TEXT OF STORY
SCOTT JAGOW: Tomorrow, drugmaker Glaxo launches an over-the-counter weight loss pill called Alli. With so many Americans overweight, this could be a blockbuster drug. But it has plenty of critics, Helen Palmer reports from our Health Desk at WGBH.
Helen Palmer: Glaxo’s spending $150 million to market Alli, a half-strength version of prescription weight-loss pill Xenical
. But critics say it should not be available without a prescription. Alex Sugerman-Brozan of the consumer watchdog Prescription Access Litigation Project:
Alex Sugerman-Brozan: There is nothing to prevent people who should not be using this drug from using it — particularly teenagers and people with eating disorders for whom this drug could be quite dangerous.
Sugerman-Brozan says Alli’s only approved for adults, but there’s no mechanism to control who actually buys the drug.
Glaxo insists pharmacists won’t sell it to teenagers, and they’ve produced a book full of advice called “Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind,” and an extensive website. But Sugerman-Brozan says that won’t stop abuse.
Sugerman-Brozan: This is not aspirin. It’s a very strong drug with very significant effects.
He says Alli works by preventing the digestion of fat. It blocks vital fat soluble vitamins like A, E and D and poses a danger of malnutrition.
In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.