Pharmacists appear to be on 2 sides ofthe fence regarding statins going to OTCstatus in the United States. An ongoingsurvey, conducted by Kline & Co, indicatedthat many pharmacists have genuineconcerns about the viability ofoffering drugs such as lovastatin (Mevacor),atorvastatin (Lipitor), and pravastatin(Pravachol) over the counter.
"We actually expected to find amore optimistic outlook among pharmacistsfor OTC statins, but in our firstround of interviews we heard many ofthe same concerns voiced by doctorsand the FDA," reported Laura Mahecha,industry manager for the Healthcarepractice of Kline's research division.
These concerns included sideeffects, potential interactions withother medications, and the ability ofpatients to monitor cholesterol levelsand use the medication correctly withoutsupervision. Some respondents,however, were confident about thesafety of the existing statins andbelieved that, with enough guidancefrom pharmacists, patients could successfullytreat their high cholesterollevels without a prescription and at areduced cost.
Pharmacists' opinions also weredivided on whether statins would actuallymake the switch. Many of therespondents said that the change willbe more likely over the next decade,regardless of whether they believed thatthe switch was positive or negative. Thepharmacists agreed that, if approved,OTC statins could lead to majorchanges in the way pharmacists operateand the role that pharmacists play.