GlaxoSmithKline, Alcon switch 3 meds to OTC in play for big volume

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The three medications were approved as part of the FDA's prescription-to-OTC program. (Pixabay)

Drugmakers usually target two things: pricing and volume, hopefully both at the same time. But when prices go down, volume's the thing, and GSK and Alcon have pulled off prescription-to-OTC switches in hopes of giving aging brands a boost.

GlaxoSmithKline's Voltaren Arthritis Pain gel and two Alcon eye drops, Pataday and Patanol, will now be sold over the counter after the FDA approved switching the drugs from prescription-only status on Friday. 

Moving into OTC sales will give the three drugs greater consumer access at a likely much lower price point, the agency said in a release.

To pass muster for the switch, both GSK and Alcon were required to provide data showing that consumers could dose themselves safety and effectively, the FDA said. The drugmakers were also required to show that patients can understand how to use the drug without a healthcare professional's supervision. 

Voltaren gel notched its first FDA approval in 2007 to treat osteoarthritis joint pain responsive to topical treatment. The two Alcon medications, Pataday Twice Daily Relief and Pataday Once Daily Relief, were approved in 1996 and 2004, respectively. The twice-daily formulation was approved under the name Patanol to treat the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis.

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