An FDA panel is debating whether to approve changing the status of Mevacor, a statin, so that it can be bought over-the-counter (without a prescription). Merck, the makers of Mevacor, think it should, the FDA wonders whether changing its status is feasible.

If it does become OTC, people will be able to go straight to the pharmacist and get it for about $1 per daily dose.

A statin is a drug people take to reduce their cholesterol levels. Statins are generally taken over the long term.

Five years ago the FDA looked at this same question and said 'no'.

Merck's argument is that heart disease would be reduced if people could simply go to their pharmacist and get their statin. More Americans die from heart disease than anything else.

The FDA wonders how many people will follow the instructions on the packet correctly.

The FDA panel has to decide today, Friday 14th January.

View drug information on Mevacor.

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