Over the Counter

Pfizer to Seek OTC Lipitor: Sources

Sources said Wednesday that Pfizer Inc. is considering seeking over-the-counter permission for the world’s bestselling drug, the cholesterol medication Lipitor. If the Food and Drug Administration does allow it to be made available without a prescription, it will help Pfizer make a profit off the drug after it loses its patent distinction in November—and generic versions hit the market soon after. Approval is anything but certain, however: The FDA has rejected previous overtures by other companies to put cholesterol medicines over the counter, since studies have shown that 30 percent of people who thought they needed cholesterol medication had only a 5 percent or lower risk of a heart attack. Lipitor is sold without a prescription in British pharmacies, but it is “behind the counter,” meaning the drug seeker must consult with a pharmacist first.