In March, Pfizer Inc. announced plans to move forward on an over-the-counter (OTC) version of Lipitor, a cholesterol blocking medication, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.
The plan to sell a version of the drug without a prescription has been met with concerns on appropriate usage without doctor guidance. Guidelines for treating patients with cholesterol-lowering drugs has recently changed from aiming for specific cholesterol levels to an overall assessment of health factors, wrote WSJ reporter Peter Lofton.
Since 2006, Lipitor’s sales have gone down over $10 billion due to lower priced generics that are currently on the market retail for fifty cents to over $5 per pill. Ian Read, Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer, says the company is putting significant resources behind it’s OTC effort and the new version of the drug could provide the company with over $1 billion in sales annually.
Pfizer claims the new OTC drug will benefit people who aren’t currently take Lipitor, but are at risk for heart attacks and strokes. The company believes the new option will allow more people to take the medication and will provide savings for the health-care system.
“The OTC status is another access point. It’s our responsibility to demonstrate patients can safely and effectively use these products,” said Mark Gelbert, a senior vice president of global research and development with Pfizer’s consumer health-care unit.
Pfizer is currently conducting a trial to find out if patients taking the OTC version of Lipitor will lower their cholesterol and interpret blood test results effectively. The results will determine if Pfizer will apply for U.S. Regulatory approval.
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