There are seven different statin drugs prescribed in the US.
- Atorvastatin was developed by Pfizer and sold under the name Lipitor. Pfizer owned the patent until expiration in November 2011. Lipitor is synthetic and it is also used to reduce triglyceride levels as well as reducing blood pressure. It is estimated that 21% of statin prescriptions in the US are for atorvastatin.
- Simvastatin was developed by Merck and sold by the name Zocor. Many manufacturers now make it and about half of all statin pills sold in the United States are simvastatin. Simvastatin was approved by the FDA in 1991.
- Rosuvastatin, which is sold by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca under the name of Crestor.
- Pravastatin, a statin drug manufactured by Bristol-Meyers Squibb and sold under the name Pravachol or Pravigard, is an enzyme blocker that is derived from a mold. It is prescribed for patients as young as eight years of age, and was approved by the FDA in 1991.
- Fluvastatin, which is produced by Novartis and sold under the name Lescol, was first approved by the FDA in 1993. Lescol is one of the milder statin drugs, and can be combined with therapeutic lifestyle changes.
- Lovastatin, which is prescribed under the names Mevacor, Advicor or Altoprev was first approved in 1987. It is used in tandem with diet changes (particularly the restriction of fat and cholesterol intake).
- Pitavastatin, sold under the brand name Livalo, was approved by the FDA in August 2009. It has been used in Japan since 2003 and is made by the Japanese company Kowa. The company claims pitavastatin is less liable to interactions with other drugs than competing statins.
An eighth statin drug, cerivastatin (Baycol), was taken off the market in 2001 by its manufacturer Bayer because of its serious side effects.
In order of introduction to the US marketplace: lovastatin, pravastatin, fluvastatin, atorvastatin, simvastatin, rosuvastatin, and pitavastatin.
One way to classify statins is by how they are manufactured. Some are derived from micro-organisms through biotechnology. These are called fermentation-derived or Type 1.
Others are made through chemical synthesis. These are synthetic, or Type 2 statins.