be treated. What this means in terms
of global equity is stunning. From
Hyderabad to Houston, you give every-
one an equal chance to live.”
Some scientists even argue that the
protection offered could extend to the
inflammatory onslaught brought on
by infections such as influenza. Severe
flu strikes 35 million people annually.
Patients already taking a statin are less
likely to die of the disease than are non-
users, researchers at state health depart-
ments across the United States reported
in January. Danish researchers tracking
patients with pneumonia, a flu complica-
tion, reported that those on statins are
less likely to die of the condition.
Not all the same
Whether statins will ascend to such wider
use — and if so, which versions will work
best — is still an open question. They are
not all uniform. Some statins, such as
Zocor, don’t linger in the blood for long,
Liao says. That’s why doctors tell people
to take them at night, when the liver
actively makes cholesterol.
A short half-life might limit a statin’s
effectiveness against diseases not related
solely to cholesterol. “If inflammation is
happening around the clock,” Liao says,
“I’d like to have a statin that works 24
hours a day.” Other statins are released
over a longer time frame.
Zocor, though, might have an advantage in fighting disease more broadly,
because it can gain entry into most cells.
Zocor, Lipitor, Lescol and Mevacor are all
lipophilic — they “like” fats — meaning
they dissolve easily into most any cell’s
membrane, passing through it like a
ghost through a wall. On the other end of
the spectrum are Crestor and Pravachol.
These lipophobic (“fat-fearing”) statins
are reluctant to dissolve into cell membranes. Makers of these drugs have by
design equipped them to enter into liver
A stark contrast emerges between
lipophilic and lipophobic statins in stud-
ies of another menace that statins are
now showing promise against: cancer.
Statin selection Cholesterol-lowering drugs come in different varieties, some lasting longer
and some liking fat (lipophilic) while others avoid it (lipophobic). The differences suggest that
the best statin for the job depends on what disease needs to be treated.
Brand name Generic name First FDA approval Half-life in the body Lipophilic or lipophobic Manufacturer and erivation
Mevacor Lovastatin 1987 Less than 2 hours Lipophilic Merck, natural compounds
Zocor Simvastatin* 1991 Less than 2 hours Lipophilic Merck, natural compounds
Pravachol Pravastatin 1991 2 hours Lipophobic Bristol-Myers Squibb, natural compounds
Lescol Fluvastatin 1993 Less than 3 hours Lipophilic Novartis, synthetic
Lipitor Atorvastatin 1996 14hours Lipophilic P;zer, synthetic
Crestor Rosuvastatin 2003 19hours Lipophobic IPRPharmaceuticals, synthetic Crestor Rosuvastatin