It's the first time the Food and Drug Administration has allowed direct sales of a version of a diet drug that had been available only by prescription.
Capsules of Orlistat will now be sold in a lower, non-prescription dose under the name Alli. The drug has been available by prescription as Xenical.
When taken with meals, Orlistat blocks the absorption of about one-quarter of any fat consumed, but local weight loss consultants warn there's no such thing as a quick fix.
The FDA says people who have had an organ transplant should not take the drug because of possible drug interactions, and anyone taking blood thinning medicines or being treated for diabetes or thyroid disease should consult a physician.
The diet pill is intended for people 18 and older to use along with a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet and exercise.
It should hit the shelves by this summer.