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FDA Approves Over-the-Counter Diet Drug

FDA Approves Over-the-Counter Diet Drug

Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

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NBC's Robert Bazell reportingThere's new hope in the battle of the bulge today. For the first time, the F-D-A approved the sale of an over-the-counter diet drug.

The FDA's decision will allow people to buy the weight loss drug -- now called Alli -- over the counter. It's been sold by prescription under the name Xenical since 1999.

Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom a weight loss expert from the University of Pittsburgh says a lot of people will try the drug at least once.

Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom/University of Pittsburgh Weight Management Center: "Because they'll feel, 'Hey it can't hurt.' and you know in terms of things that are available without a prescription -- over the counter or even dietary supplement -- it's something that may not help you, but it is certainly not going to harm you."

Maybe not permanent harm, but the drug works by absorbing fat in the digestive tract -- and that can cause diarrhea.

Rick Black used the drug as part of his weight loss program.

Rick Black, Used Drug to Lose Weight: "I've been in business meeting during a presentation and -- i've had to Suppress the urge to go to the bathroom. So there is that side effect, especially if you've had a really fatty meal which I don't do very often."

The drug will cost about $2 a day. Clinical trials showed that if people lost 5 pounds through diet and exercise the drug could help them lose another two.

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