And no drug discussion would be complete without a financial component. Companies have an incentive for seeking OTC status for prescription drugs that are experiencing weakening sales and/or generic competition. This way, companies can use their brand names to capture some sales that would have been lost.
Mevacor's U.S. sales have virtually disappeared due to generic competition. Pravachol, which ranks third in U.S. statin sales, will lose its U.S. patent protection in April 2006.
For the week ended Nov. 12, Pravachol had a U.S. dollar market share of 11.9%, or $39.2 million, according to NDCHealth, a health care information company. The market leader is Pfizer's (PFE - Get Report) Lipitor, with a 49% market share, followed by Merck's Zocor, with 25.2%. Zocor, which has lost patent protection in some foreign markets, will be hit by generic competition in mid-2006.
For the week ended Nov. 12, Mevacor had U.S. sales of only $233,314 compared with sales of $13.8 million for generic versions, says NDCHealth. The firm tracks drugs that are dispensed in retail outlets and by mail-order pharmacies. The dollar amounts represent the estimated cost incurred by the wholesaler to purchase product from the drug manufacturer.