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It's a disturbing story, more so because Louise had been prescribed the diet pills - the subsequently banned amphetamine-based Phentermine, which was marketed as Ionamin and Duromine - by a qualified doctor.

The drug was banned in the UK in 2000 after fears it could lead to heart disease and because it was being distributed by slimming clinics without the associated risks being explained.

GPs wouldn't offer them to patients due to the high risk of heart problems. They don't consider a person's medical history or provide the correct support that patients require.

The trouble is that as long as there is someone medically qualified at these clinics, then they get away with it.' One clinic that didn't 'get away with it' was the Regional Health & Diet Centre in London.

Last year, Anne Withers, 47, had an interview for a receptionist job at a diet clinic in Birmingham and was disturbed by the experience.

'After years of trying to slim, it felt like someone had handed me a lifeline,' says Louise, a housing support manager.

'The clinic's doctor took my height, weight and blood pressure, handed me a supply of Ionamin appetite suppressants and said the only common side-effects were a dry mouth and sleep disturbance.

But far from losing pounds, the 28-year-old almost lost her life just three days after taking the first pill.

'I couldn't stand or lift my head.' Louise Craig, 28, was so desperate to slim that she turned to pills - but instead of losing weight, she almost lost her life At 13st and 5ft 5in, Louise was so desperate to slim for a holiday, having unsuccessfully 'tried every diet going', she admits she paid no heed to either the credentials of the clinic or the dangers of such a pill.

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