The DoH is involved, but so great is the UK obesity problem that the scheme also falls under the remit of two other departments: the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department for Education and Skills.
Are pharma PROs involved?
PROs for anti-obesity drugs on the market have welcomed the move, because keeping the subject high on the political agenda means
the environment is more conducive to those keen to promote the products' virtues.
And what products are these?
Roche's Xenical (aka orlistat), Abbott's Reductil (sibutramine)
and Sanofi-Aventis's Acomplia (rimonabant) are the three main anti-obesity pills. Roche has long had help from Hill & Knowlton, while Abbott uses Ruder Finn. Acomplia, the newest, is awaiting a licence.
The maker is using Manning Selvage & Lee.
How are PROs approaching it?
By playing their cards close to their chests. Teva Dawson, who leads the account for Roche, says the company is looking at the guidelines. Mei Go, Abbott senior comms manager for Reductil, says the firm will still engage healthcare professionals through med ed work. Jeni Wilson, head of brand comms at Sanofi-Aventis, says that until a licence for Acomplia is granted, the firm can only comment on questions related to the product's performance in trials.
Do we need new obesity guidelines?
The figures suggest we do. Obesity is a risk factor for conditions including heart disease, stroke, some cancers and type-2 diabetes, and causes 9,000 premature deaths a year in England.