There have been numerous other drugs that were once prescription but were approved for over-the-counter sale, notably Prevacid, Prilosec and very recently, Claritin and Allegra.
"These other drugs don't need to be monitored as closely as Lipitor," Fox said.
Among patients who could benefit the most from a non-prescription version of Lipitor are the uninsured, who would be spared the expense of a doctor's visit. Those with insurance may also benefit, depending on how much they have to pay out of pocket for the drug.
Another insurance situation could arise as well, Doering explained. If a drug is available over-the-counter, insurance companies may refuse to pay for it if a doctor prescribes it, and in some cases, the non-prescription drug price is higher than the out-of-pocket cost.
While Pfizer wouldn't elaborate on the actions it will take after the patent for Lipitor expires, Fox said that so far she hasn't seen any tentative FDA approvals for Pfizer's generic arm, Greenstone, to manufacture a generic form of the drug yet.