The most commonly prescribed medicines for treating high cholesterol include four distinct groups of medicines: statins, resins, lipid-lowering therapies and selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors, states the American Heart Association. These four groups include common prescription medicines such as Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, Zetia and Lopid as well as Questran and Colestid.
Statins work in the liver to prevent the formation of cholesterol, the American Heart Association reports. Statins are most effective at lowering LDL cholesterol and also work to lower triglycerides and raise HDL. Most side effects are mild and disappear with time. Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor fall into this category.
Resins work in the intestines to promote increased disposal of cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association These medicines work by binding to bile enzymes in the liver. Both Questran and Colestid fall into this category.
Lipid-lowering therapies include the use of fibrates to lower triglycerides. This group of medicine is the least effective at lowering LDL, the American Heart Association reports. This category includes Lopid. Other medications in this category include over-the-counter vitamins and supplements such as niacin and fish oil.
Selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors are a newer group of medications used to treat cholesterol, which work by blocking the absorption of cholesterol by the intestine. Resins are also effective at lowering LDL cholesterol, explains the American Heart Association. The prescription medication Zetia is in this category.