Australian researchers say that a drug that has been used to treat asthma sufferers for 40 years may help fat people shed up to five kilograms a week.
The main ingredient in Ventolin could be the key behind the magical weight loss.
A firm Down Under is planning to develop a slow-release capsule form of salbutamol, known as r-salbutamol. The company claims the drug can reduce body weight by 2 to 3 per cent a week and could be on the market in three years.
Stirling Products says it could prove to be a "massive blockbuster" because salbutamol had been proven safe.
Salbutamol administered to asthmatics acts on smooth muscle to reduce bronchial spasms, but managing director Peter Boonen said a capsule form of the drug could "turn off fat receptors".
"It will move weight fairly rapidly, but it won't be available over the counter. Doctors will prescribe it for 14 days, then review progress," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted him, as saying.
Salbutamol is a beta-2 agonist, which has the same effect on the adrenergic system as exercise, resulting in weight loss, an increase in muscle mass and a reduced appetite. It is rapidly excreted in urine but tolerance usually develops within days.