What is raloxifene and what's it used for?

Raloxifene is used to treat spine osteoporosis in post-menopausal women following a fracture.

It has some of the same beneficial effects on bone as the hormone oestrogen. For example, it increases the density of the vertebrae (the bones of the spine) and reduces vertebral fracture rates.

It also reduces the risk of breast cancer.

Is there any reason I shouldn't have raloxifene?

Because there's a small increased risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) raloxifene isn't usually suitable for older women. This treatment isn't used if you have a history of leg clots, womb cancer or liver disease.

Your doctor will probably suggest an alternative treatment if you're already having menopausal symptoms as raloxifene can make these worse.

How is it taken and how long does it take to work?

Raloxifene is taken in 60 mg tablets once a day.

It's important to continue treatment as your doctor advises – even though you won't be able to feel whether it's working.

Side-effects and risks

A small minority of women experience:

  • uncomfortable hot flushes
  • leg cramps
  • swollen ankles
  • flu-like symptoms.

Less common side-effects include blood clots in the legs or inflammation in the leg veins, but this treatment won't be used if you have a history of these.

Effects on other treatments

It's usually fine to take other medicines alongside raloxifene, but check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new medications.

There's no reason why you shouldn't have vaccinations while you're on raloxifene.

Alcohol

Alcohol is unlikely to interact with raloxifene. However, heavy drinking is a risk factor for osteoporosis and for having falls so it's recommended that you drink alcohol only in moderation.

Fertility

Raloxifene isn't usually recommended for pre-menopausal women. It's probably best avoided if you're pregnant or breastfeeding as it's not known how it might affect the baby's development.

Raloxifene can also slightly increase the risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis), which is already increased in pregnancy.

Calcium and vitamin D

It's important to get enough calcium and vitamin D. You may be prescribed a daily supplement of calcium and/or vitamin D if your doctor thinks you may have a deficiency.