Systematic review of red yeast rice compared with simvastatin in dyslipidaemia

J Clin Pharm Ther. 2016 Apr;41(2):170-9. doi: 10.1111/jcpt.12374. Epub 2016 Mar 9.


What is known and objective: Red yeast rice is believed to be a useful alternative in the management of dyslipidaemia. However, the comparative effectiveness of red yeast rice and simvastatin for the management of dyslipidaemia is unknown. This review assesses the efficacy and safety of red yeast rice versus simvastatin in dyslipidaemia.

Methods: Electronic databases were searched up to May 2015 without publication date and language restriction. The Cochrane Risk of Bias Assessment Tool was used to assess the quality of included trials. Changes in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides were examined.

Results and discussion: Ten randomized controlled trials involving 905 Chinese subjects with dyslipidaemia were systematically reviewed. Overall, red yeast rice and simvastatin did not show any statistically significant difference in any of the outcomes examined.

What is new and conclusion: A number of small trials show that red yeast rice and simvastatin produce similar lipid-lowering effects. Larger trials with increased methodological rigour and trials with clinical outcomes are necessary for more robust inferences.

Keywords: Systematic Review; dyslipidaemia; red yeast rice; simvastatin; xuezhikang; zhibutuo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Dyslipidemias / blood
  • Dyslipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Simvastatin / therapeutic use*


  • Biological Products
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Lipids
  • red yeast rice
  • Simvastatin