PHARMACEUTICALS
Over-counter sales sought for Cialis

Sanofi and Eli Lilly on Wednesday said they would ask health regulators for permission to sell Cialis, the world’s top-selling anti-impotence drug, without a prescription.

Currently available by prescription only, the tablet was first approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2002 and then by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2003.

It is one of Lilly’s biggest products, having generated almost $2.2 billion in worldwide sales last year. The drug is also approved to treat enlarged prostate glands.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi is buying the exclusive rights to apply for approval of Cialis tablets over the counter in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia. Terms of the licensing agreement were not disclosed.

It remains to be seen, however, whether regulators will allow Cialis to be sold without a prescription, in view of possible side effects. Like rival anti-impotence drugs, such as Pfizer’s Viagra, Cialis can cause a dangerous fall in blood pressure if taken with nitrates, a class of heart drugs that include nitroglycerin.

— Reuters

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