“Traditionally, statins were viewed as purely cholesterol-lowering drugs. So it made sense just to use them for people with high cholesterol. But we’ve learned that they also benefit people with lower levels of cholesterol who are at a high risk of heart disease. So we now think of statins as risk-reducing drugs.”
Since researchers believed cholesterol levels contribute greatly to heart disease, pharmaceutical companies focused on developing a drug that might be marketed to millions when they first began searching for a “cure” to what is known as “hardening of the arteries.” After a historical journey beginning in the mid-20th century,3 the first statin drug was released in 1987 — lovastatin.