Raloxifene is approved for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. It is in a class of drugs called estrogen agonists/antagonists that have been developed to provide the beneficial effects of estrogens without all of the potential disadvantages. It is neither an estrogen nor a hormone. Raloxifene is sometimes called a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM).
Raloxifene reduces the risk of spine fractures. There are no data showing that raloxifene reduces the risk of hip and other non-spine fractures. For both prevention and treatment, raloxifene is taken daily as a 60 mg tablet, with or without meals.
Raloxifene appears to decrease the risk of estrogen-dependent breast cancer by 65 percent over eight years. It is FDA-approved to decrease the risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and even in women without osteoporosis who are at high risk of breast cancer. Raloxifene does not reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Side effects include hot flashes, leg cramps and an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots). Other side effects include swelling and temporary flu-like symptoms. Raloxifene is not associated with diseases of the uterus or ovaries and does not affect cognitive (mental) function.
Raloxifene should not be taken by women at increased risk for stroke. This includes women who have had previous strokes, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), atrial fibrillation (a type of serious irregular heart beat) or uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure).