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What is Raloxifene?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Raloxifene is a medication used to treat osteoporosis in women who have entered menopause. This medication is marketed under the brand name Evista® and is produced by Eli Lilly and Company. Prices vary, depending on where patients are purchasing the drug, and certain patients may be eligible for discounted medications on compassionate grounds. A doctor can provide patients with more information about programs designed to increase drug affordability.

This drug is in a class of drugs known as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). These medications act on the estrogen receptors of the body and behave differently in different types of tissue. Raloxifene has an anti-estrogen effect on the breasts, and an estrogenic effect on the bones. These characteristics make the drug suitable for the treatment of osteoporosis, the approved use, as well as off-label use to prevent invasive breast cancer in women at high risk of this disease.

The use for which this drug has been approved is in the prevention of thinning of bones and loss of bone mass in post-menopausal women. Osteoporosis is a serious risk for such women and medications that reduce bone thinning reduce the incidence of fractures and other problems associated with thinning bones. Research has also determined that in women who are at high risk of breast cancer who have not yet had the disease, raloxifene can reduce the incidence of breast cancer and can be taken as a preventative medication.

There are some serious risks associated with this medication. It has been linked with birth defects and should not be used in lactating women, pregnant women, or women who are likely to become pregnant. It can also increase the risk of blood clots and stroke. Women who are likely to remain still for extended periods of time, as may happen while traveling or recovering from surgery, are usually advised to go off raloxifene to limit the risk of clots.

Like many other medications, raloxifene can interact negatively with existing health conditions such as kidney disease and cardiovascular disease. When this medication is prescribed, patients should review their medical histories with their doctors to confirm that the drug is appropriate for them. It is also advisable to ask why the drug is prescribed and how it should be used. Women who notice side effects should contact their doctors immediately for advice. It is also important to attend regularly scheduled medical appointments while on raloxifene, even if a woman is feeling well, as the drug is not a preventative, only a risk reducer.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
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