An obesity drug has been approved for use on the NHS in England and Wales despite failing to gain approval in the US and Scotland.
Experts at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) have determined that rimonabant (Acomplia) should be considered for patients who are obese or overweight and who have already tried other weight loss drugs.
Concerns have been raised that some patients may develop depression, anxiety and other mental side-effects, but Nice's independent advisory committee has reviewed the evidence and decided that the drug's benefits outweigh the possible risks.
Chief executive Andrew Dillon commented: "This is good news for patients for whom orlistat and sibutramine are not effective.
"Being overweight or obese can lead to a range of serious health problems, including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and some cancers," he pointed out.
Dr David Haslam, clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, welcomed the decision.
"We can be absolutely reassured that they have looked closely at the evidence and made an appropriate decision," he told the BBC.
"This is a very good drug, and there are very many people who have tried everything else, including other drugs, with little success, who might benefit from it."