I’m on Lipitor, one of a class of statins that lower cholesterol and lipid blood levels. The rest are fine, but the LDL is still a bit high. A friend mentioned that his doctor (in an HMO) said he understood that even though it’s not a recognized treatment, red rice yeast has been effective in lowering LDL. That was interesting so I checked and saw it was available as an over the counter item in a local pharmacy. I then went on the Internet to find if there had been any studies. Sure enough, the results were validated. However, when the material was analyzed to find what component was responsible for this lowering they found that the process of fermentation by the particular yeast produced another of the statin drugs. This made the material subject to FDA regulation. The fermentation process was modified so it no longer produces that statin so it could still be sold OTC.
Two comments: 1. It wasn’t an interesting alternative drug, just an interesting way of producing one of the already available statins. 2. Now that it has no effect, it’s popularity is riding on the earlier results and large amounts are still being sold at high prices.