January 21, 2009 / 1:38 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Glaxo OTC weight-loss pill cleared for sale in EU

(Adds detail on launch plan, background)

LONDON, Jan 21 (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK.L) won a final green light on Wednesday to sell its weight-loss drug alli over the counter in Europe, boosting an important area of its consumer healthcare business.

The world’s second biggest drugmaker, which sees such non-prescription medicines as a growth opportunity at a time when sales of many prescription products are slowing, said it planned to launch alli in Europe in the coming months.

The approval from the European Commission had been widely expected, following a positive opinion from the European Medicines Agency in October. The drug has been available without prescription in the United States since 2007.

Alli is a half-dose version of Roche’s ROG.VX prescription medicine Xenical and works by reducing the amount of fat the body absorbs from food.

Undigested fat is eliminated through bowel movements, which can cause side effects such as gas and oily discharge. Glaxo stresses that alli is no “magic bullet” and requires commitment to a low-fat diet. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Simon Jessop)

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