Submitted by Bob Burton on
The Australian government's drug regulator has revoked Roche's permission to advertise its weight-loss drug, Xenical. It was originally approved as a prescription-only drug for those rating over 30 on the Body Mass Index (BMI), or 27 if other health conditions were present. Xenical was later approved for over-the-counter sale, prompting Roche to launch a direct-to-consumer advertising campaign. In December, the Australian Consumer Association sent a woman who was under 25 on the BMI to 30 Sydney pharmacies to request the drug. Twenty-four sold it to her, even though the medical guidelines stated it wasn't appropriate for her. Subsequently, a committee that advises the Australian government's drug regulator, found that "there was insufficient public health benefit" from allowing further advertising. However, instead of reinstating Xenical's status as a prescription drug, the committee allowed continued over-the-counter sales.