The decision is controversial because some health experts believe that the drug should only be dispensed under a doctor's care due to the risk and to the difficulty for the general public of understanding how people's health is assessed.
A 1200-person trial is underway to determine if the lower dose of Lipitor reduces patients' cholesterol vs generics available by prescription and if patients follow through on getting their blood tested. The trial should conclude by the year-end.
The FDA has already rejected Merck's (MRK) plans to do the same with Mevacor.
Pfizer believes that it will be successful by virtue of "new and creative" ways to convey product instructions to patients.