A raft of anti-cholesterol drugs could hit high-street shops as a result of the Government’s plans to increase the number of over-the-counter pharmaceutical products.
The Proprietary Association of Great Britain, which regulates over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, is considering allowing products containing the anti-cholesterol drug statins to be sold without prescription.
At present, statins products are prescribed through GPs and health professionals, and only after a patient has already suffered from a heart attack.
The move means Pfizer could soon be able to advertise its established anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor in the UK.
The Government extended the number of OTC medicines in May last year (MW May 17, 2001). It will result in consumer advertising for medicines that were previously available only on prescription and thus not allowed to be advertised.
A Proprietary Association of Great Britain spokesman says that the Medicines Control Agency – the pharmaceutical companies’ regulatory body that decides in which category drugs belong – is considering moving statins-based drugs from prescription only, to the OTC category.
He adds: “Statins are used as a preventive measure against heart attacks and the move could mean easing the pressure on GPs and clinics. But this is still at proposal stage and nothing definitive is happening at the moment.”