Statin drugs are usually prescribed to lower cholesterol. Red yeast rice contains mevinic acids which are similar to the active ingredient in the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin (Mevacor). Both block the body’s ability to make cholesterol. Your body actually makes more cholesterol daily than you get from food, so blocking this action can lower your total blood cholesterol.
In 2000, the FDA removed Cholestin, the red yeast rice supplement with the active cholesterol-lowering substance, reclassifying it as a drug. Currently, red yeast rice supplements are available but none have the cholesterol-lowering substance in high enough quantities to be beneficial. The supplements are largely unregulated and cannot substitute for a drug your doctor has prescribed.
Even though you can’t use red rice as a drug you can enjoy it as a food. It can be eaten as rice or used in a powder form to color foods such as red rice vinegar and Peking duck.