Raloxifene for osteoporosis

  • Raloxifene is only for use in women who have been through the menopause.
  • Take one tablet each day.
  • Make sure you are also getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D, either through your diet (milk, cheese) or by taking supplements.

About raloxifene

Type of medicine A non-hormonal selective oestrogen receptor modulator (SERM)
Used for Treating or preventing bone loss after the menopause
Also called Evista®
Available as Tablets

If you have osteoporosis, it means that you have lost some bone material and your bones have become less dense. This makes them more prone to break (fracture). The female hormone oestrogen helps to protect a woman against bone loss. When the levels of oestrogen fall after the menopause, women can rapidly lose bone material, making them at risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can develop over several years, often without any symptoms.

Raloxifene works by mimicking the natural effects of oestrogen. This gradually reverses the excessive breakdown of bone that happens at menopause and makes bones stronger. Because raloxifene is not a hormone replacement treatment, it does not reduce symptoms associated with the menopause such as hot sweats and flushes.

Before taking raloxifene

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking raloxifene it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If there is still a possibility that you could become pregnant, or if you have noticed any vaginal bleeding.
  • If you have ever been treated for a blood clot in a vein, your lung, or elsewhere.
  • If you have had a stroke, or if your doctor has told you that you are at high risk of having one.
  • If you have been told you have high levels of triglycerides (a type of fat) in your blood.
  • If you have liver problems, or if you have been told you have a problem with the flow of bile from your liver (a condition called cholestasis).
  • If you have kidney problems.
  • If you are not fully mobile (such as being in a wheelchair or having to stay in bed for any reason).
  • If you have breast cancer or endometrial cancer.
  • If you have porphyria (this is a rare inherited blood condition).
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any medicine.

How to take raloxifene

  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about raloxifene, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
  • Take raloxifene exactly as your doctor has told you. The dose is one tablet each day.
  • You may take raloxifene at whatever time of day you find easiest to remember, but try to take your doses at the same time each day. This will help you to avoid missing any doses. You can take the tablets before, during, or after your meals.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Treatment with raloxifene is usually long-term unless you experience an adverse effect. Continue to take the tablets unless you are advised otherwise.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • There are a number of lifestyle measures that will help to slow down bone loss. Exercise can help to prevent osteoporosis, as it stimulates bone-making cells, which strengthens your bones. Taking regular weight-bearing exercise such as brisk walking, aerobics, dancing, or running can help. If you smoke, you should try to stop. Also, you should try to cut down on your alcohol intake if you drink more than three units of alcohol daily.
  • Your body needs plenty of calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones. Vitamin D is needed in order to absorb the calcium that you eat or drink in your diet. Unless your doctor is sure that you have enough of these, you may also be prescribed calcium and vitamin D supplements in addition to raloxifene.
  • As osteoporosis makes your bones weaker, they may break more easily if you fall. You can try to reduce the risk of falls by wearing well-fitting shoes or slippers, having hand rails fitted near any steps, and checking your home for hazards such as uneven rugs, trailing wires, and slippery floors.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. Your doctor may also want you to have blood tests from time to time to check your liver function.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking raloxifene.

Can raloxifene cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common raloxifene side-effects - these affect around 1 in 10 people who take this medicine What can I do if I experience this?
Flu-like symptoms, hot flushes Speak with your doctor if either of these become troublesome
Leg cramps Try gentle stretching exercises to ease the pain
Swollen feet or ankles Put your feet up whenever possible

Important: there may be a small increased risk of you developing a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) while you are taking raloxifene. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this. If you develop any swelling in a leg or if you have difficulties with your breathing or chest pain, let your doctor know straightaway.

How to store raloxifene

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.