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Drugs. 2000 Aug;60(2):379-411.

Raloxifene: a review of its use in postmenopausal osteoporosis.

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  • 1Adis International Limited, Mairangi Bay, Auckland, New Zealand.


Raloxifene is a selective estrogen receptor modulator that partially mimics the effects of estrogens in bone and the cardiovascular system, while functioning as an antiestrogen in endometrial and breast tissue. In randomised placebo-controlled studies involving postmenopausal women or patients with osteoporosis, raloxifene 60 to 150 mg/day was effective in increasing bone mineral density (BMD) over 12- to 36-month periods. At the 60 mg/day recommended dosage, increases of 1.6 to 3.4%, 0.9 to 2.3% and 1.0 to 1.6% were reported in lumbar spine, femoral neck and total hip, respectively, versus < or =0.5% with placebo. Raloxifene 60 or 120 mg/day decreased the risk of vertebral fractures over a 36-month period in postmenopausal patients with osteoporosis. Significant reductions in radiographic fracture risk versus placebo (30 and 50%) occurred regardless of whether patients had existing fractures at baseline. Although raloxifene did not affect the overall incidence of nonvertebral fractures, a reduction in the incidence of ankle fracture was reported in comparison with placebo. In postmenopausal women, raloxifene 60 mg/day significantly reduced serum levels of total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol from baseline, compared with placebo. High density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels were unaffected. Raloxifene 60 or 120 mg/day reduced the risk of invasive breast cancer by 76% during a median of 40 months' follow-up in postmenopausal patients with osteoporosis and no history of breast cancer. A relative risk reduction of 90% was reported for estrogen-receptor positive invasive breast cancers; estrogen-receptor negative cancer risk was unaffected by raloxifene. Raloxifene was generally well tolerated in clinical trials at dosages up to 150 mg/day. Adverse events thought to be related to raloxifene treatment were hot flushes and leg cramps. Venous thromboembolism was the only serious adverse event thought to be related to raloxifene treatment and a relative risk of 3.1 compared with placebo treatment was reported in patients with osteoporosis. Vaginal bleeding occurred in < or =6.4% of raloxifene-treated women but was reported by 50 to 88% of those receiving estrogens or hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Raloxifene treatment was not associated with stimulatory effects on the endometrium.


Raloxifene significantly increases BMD in postmenopausal women and reduces vertebral fracture risk in patients with osteoporosis. In clinical trials, raloxifene was generally well tolerated compared with placebo and HRT, although its propensity to cause hot flushes precludes use in women with vasomotor symptoms. In particular, the lack of stimulatory effects on the endometrium and the reduction in invasive breast cancer incidence indicate raloxifene as an attractive alternative to HRT for the management of postmenopausal osteonorosis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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