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Akira Endo, Ph.D. (then of Sankyo) Awarded Prestigious Lasker for Fungus Discovery from which LDL-Lowering Statins Derived. . . .

With a sincere hat-tip to Ed Silverman, of Pharmalot, the Scientific American reports that the Akira Endo, the “Godfather of statins” has received the American equivalent of a Nobel — the Lasker Award — for his discovery of the strain of fungus from which cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins are derived:

. . . .Endo and a colleague started giving it to animals and humans, ultimately finding that it reduced LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, by 27 percent, according to a press release. Drug giants including Merck (which in the 1970s had an agreement with Sankyo, the Japanese company Endo was working for), Pfizer and others went on to produce statins, which are now the world’s second-most commonly prescribed medicines after cancer drugs, according to IMS Health. Pfizer’s Lipitor is the top-selling statin in the U.S., with sales last year of $13.5 billion; statins overall were a $33.7 billion industry in 2007, IMS says. . . .

Despite some side-effects, statins remain the drug of choice for fighting high cholesterol — when diet, and exercise, fail.


[Errata: Corrected mis-spelling of Dr. Endo’s first name.]