Firms pave way for drugs 'over counter'

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The Independent Online
TWO of Britain's biggest drug companies have taken a step towards making some popular treatments available without prescription to treat minor illnesses.

Glaxo and Wellcome are linking up with the Warner-Lambert group, based in the United States, to create what will be the largest pharmaceutical company in the world dealing in non-prescription or 'over-the- counter' (OTC) medicines.

It hopes to be able to sell non-prescription versions of Zantac (used to treat ulcers), the world's top-selling prescription drug, and Zovirax (an anti-viral agent), the eighth-largest, in addition to a range of established analgesic, decongestant and other OTC medicines.

Regulatory approval is necessary and OTC versions could only be sold for minor problems.

Drug shares boost, page 29

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