Pravastatin (Pravachol, Mevalotin)

“Blockbuster” Statin Discovered from the Metabolites of Compactin
  • Yasushi HaraEmail author
  • Sadao Nagaoka


Pravastatin was a serendipitous discovery by Sankyo; its discovery occurred while the company was in the process of investigating compactin metabolism during its development process. Pravastatin became the second statin in the world in terms of commercialization (1989). Although the launch of pravastatin was delayed, it demonstrated hydrophilicity and organ selectivity unlike lovastatin and simvastatin, which enabled its global success. Indeed, in 2010, pravastatin was used clinically in 115 countries. However, there were a number of challenges in the commercialization process of pravastatin. In particular, it required the establishment of a new two-step fermentation production process. Pravastatin also promoted cooperative research between industry and academia, which played an important role in the elucidation of the action mechanism of statin, including the effect of the hydrophilic nature of pravastatin, as well as its therapeutic value. Despite the pioneer status of Sankyo, lovastatin by Merck became the first statin in the world (1987). Although Merck also suspended the clinical development of lovastatin following the Sankyo decision to discontinue the compactin project, it resumed the development sooner because of the higher willingness of the US market to try new innovative drugs. The resumption of the suspended clinical trial of lovastatin in the USA occurred at the request of clinical researchers. An educational program by the NIH pointing out the importance of lowering cholesterol to prevent heart disease began in 1985.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CEAFJP/EHESSParisFrance
  2. 2.Faculty of EconomicsHitotsubashi UniversityTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Tokyo Keizai UniversityTokyoJapan

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