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Lipitor may be cleared for over-the-counter sale

August 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Pfizer reportedly hopes to sell Lipitor over-the-counter. This would help the pharmaceutical giant keep profits from the anti-cholesterol medication when its patent expires in November.

In November, generic forms of Lipitor will be available and Pfizer hopes the FDA will clear it for over-the-counter sale.

Lydia Espinoza, 55, uses the medication daily and is excited about the news.

"I'm happy about it," said Espinoza. "Because the cost of medication is extremely high, even when you do have insurance."

"I'm a little concerned about it because it's a medication that has to be taken under the supervision of a physician," said Dr. Sachin Navare.

Navare says Lipitor is one of the most tested and safest drugs on the market, but fears removing doctors from the process of prescribing will be dangerous because of potential side effects, such as liver damage and muscle weakness.

"Even if the drug is safe in 99.9 percent of patients, there's a point-one percent chance you could have a serious side effect from the medication," said Navare. "I think you should be under the supervision of a physician."

For the sake of patient safety, many doctors hope Lipitor does not go over-the-counter, and even if it did Navare says it won't save patients any money.

"If you go over-the-counter your insurance will not pick up the tab," said Navare. "You could possibly end up paying more for the medication."

Espinoza says even if she didn't save money buying Lipitor over the counter, she's more excited about the convenience.

"If it did go over it would be great," said Espinoza. "It would save people the agony of having to go through a doctor just to get a prescription. You have to pay the co-pay just to see your doctor when all you need is medication refill."

Pfizer declined to comment on its future plans to make Lipitor available over-the-counter. The move would still require FDA approval.

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