NEW YORK — Pfizer has abandoned their plan to offer an over-the-counter version of their cholesterol medication, Lipitor.

According to a study, which was conducted by Pfizer, the test patients did not adequately check their cholesterol after taking the Lipitor, and it appears that patients require the oversight of a doctor when being administered the drug.

Pfizer had pursued the strategy of getting FDA approval for an over-the-counter version of Lipitor in order to stave off the dramatic decline in sales the drug has been experiencing in recent years.

Pfizer’s Lipitor sales have decreased by nearly 80% since 2011, but it still remains a popular cholesterol medication around the world. Also known as atorvastatin, Lipitor is a member of a classification of drugs known as statins and was originally approved by the U.S. FDA in 1996 for use in treating high cholesterol.

Unlike other statins, however, Lipitor is entirely synthetic. Doctors specifically prescribe this drug in order to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in patients who suffer from or are at risk of developing cardiovascular complications. The drug inhibits the production of a cholesterol-producing enzyme in the liver, forcing the body to use cholesterol in the blood instead. Lipitor, among other statins, has been linked with serious and potentially even fatal side effects including the development of type II diabetes, as well as muscle, kidney and liver disease.

As a result of the serious complications associated with Lipitor, Pfizer is currently facing several lawsuits in both the United States and in Canada. In both the United States and Canada, the lawsuits allege that using Lipitor resulted in the development of type II diabetes and that the manufacturer was aware – or should have been aware — of the grave health risks of their drug.

The lawsuits further claim that despite their knowledge of the risk of diabetes for Lipitor users, Pfizer marketed their drug via aggressive marketing campaigns that misled consumers and downplayed the possible and serious side effects associated with the statin. The Canadian class action suit alleges that Canadians were not even informed of the serious health risks until 2013.

In light of the mounting Lipitor lawsuits, the failure to develop an over-the-counter version of the statin may be good news for consumers.

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