You may have seen a newspaper article reporting that the Food and Drug Administration has approved atorvastatin (Lipitor) for the prevention of stroke in patients with type 2 diabetes and in people without diabetes with no evidence of heart disease but with risk factors for coronary disease. Lipitor is the top-selling statin (cholesterol-lowering drug) in the United States.
What is the impact of a new indication for prescribing Lipitor? Many people, including some physicians, think of statins only as providing protection against heart attacks. In fact, other statins have been proven effective in preventing strokes, and many doctors have already been prescribing Lipitor or other statins for this purpose. The approval could serve to alert even more physicians to the stroke-preventing capacity of the statins.
However, the only certain benefactor from the approval is Pfizer, the company that sells Lipitor. They are now allowed to promote this additional benefit of their product in their many advertisements to the public and to physicians. In addition, Pfizer's pharmaceutical representatives are now permitted to mention that Lipitor prevents strokes when they talk to doctors.