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Raloxifene Chemical Structure V.1.svg
Clinical data
Trade namesEvista, Optruma, others
SynonymsKeoxifene; Pharoxifene; LY-139481; LY-156758; CCRIS-7129
License data
  • AU: X (High risk)
  • US: X (Contraindicated)
Routes of
By mouth
Drug classSelective estrogen receptor modulator
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
  • In general: ℞ (Prescription only)
Pharmacokinetic data
Protein binding>95%[1]
MetabolismLiver, intestines (glucuro-
);[1][2] CYP450 system not involved[1]
Elimination half-life27.7 hours[1]
CAS Number
PubChem CID
PDB ligand
ECHA InfoCard100.212.655 Edit this at Wikidata
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass473.584 g/mol g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)

Raloxifene, developed by Eli Lilly in 1997 and sold under the brand name Evista among others, is a medication which is used in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and to reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or at high risk for breast cancer.[3][4][5] It is taken by mouth.[3]

Side effects of raloxifene include hot flashes, leg cramps, and an increased risk of blood clots and other cardiovascular events such as stroke.[3][4] It has also been found to worsen menstrual symptoms[6]. The drug is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) and hence is a mixed agonistantagonist of the estrogen receptor (ER), the biological target of estrogens like estradiol.[7][8][9] It has estrogenic effects in bone and the liver and antiestrogenic effects in the breasts and uterus.[10]

Raloxifene was first introduced, for the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis, in 1997.[11][12] It was subsequently approved for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis in 1999 and to reduce the risk of breast cancer in certain women in 2007.[12] It is available as a generic medication.[13]

Medical uses[edit]

Raloxifene is indicated for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women[5]. It is also used for reduction of risk and treatment of invasive breast cancer, and it also reduces breast density.[14] Raloxifene has been found to be effective in the treatment of gynecomastia (male breast development) in adolescents.[15][16] For either osteoporosis treatment or prevention, supplemental calcium and/or vitamin D should be added to the diet if daily intake is inadequate[17].


Raloxifene is contraindicated in lactating women or women who are or may become pregnant[18]. It also may be of concern to women with active or past history of venous thromboembolic events, including deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and retinal vein thrombosis [19].

Side effects[edit]

Common adverse events considered to be drug-related were hot flashes and leg cramps.[18] Raloxifene does not cause breast tenderness, endometrial hyperplasia, menstrual bleeding, or endometrial cancer.[4] It does not appear to affect cognition or memory.[9] Raloxifene is a teratogen; i.e., it can cause developmental abnormalities such as birth defects.

Raloxifene may infrequently cause serious blood clots to form in the legs, lungs, or eyes. Other reactions experienced include leg swelling/pain, trouble breathing, chest pain, and vision changes. Black box warnings were added to the label of raloxifene in 2007 warning of increased risk of death due to stroke for postmenopausal women with documented coronary heart disease or at increased risk for major coronary events, as well as increased risk for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.[18]

A report in September 2009 from Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality suggests that tamoxifen and raloxifene, used to treat breast cancer, significantly reduce invasive breast cancer in midlife and older women, but also increase the risk of adverse side effects.[20]

A recent human case report in July 2016 suggests that raloxifene may in fact, at some point, also stimulate breast cancer growth leading to a reduction of advanced breast cancer disease upon the withdrawal of the drug.[21]



The biological actions of raloxifene are largely mediated through binding to estrogen receptors. This binding results in activation of estrogenic pathways in some tissues (agonism) and blockade of estrogenic pathways in others (antagonism). Its agonistic activity at some receptors and its antagonistic activity at others makes it a SERM. Raloxifene appears to act as an estrogen agonist in bone.[18]

Raloxifene has been found to disinhibit the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis and thereby increase total testosterone levels in men.[22][23][24][25] Due to a simultaneous increase in sex hormone-binding globulin levels however, free testosterone levels often remain unchanged.[22]

Raloxifene has been found to decrease insulin-like growth factor 1 levels in women and men.[23]


The absorption of raloxifene is approximately 60%.[1] However, due to extensive first-pass metabolism, the absolute bioavailability of raloxifene is only 2.0%.[1] Peak plasma levels of raloxifene occur 6 hours after an oral dose.[1] Raloxifene shows high plasma protein binding (>95%), including to both albumin and α1 acid glycoprotein, but not to sex hormone-binding globulin.[1] Raloxifene is metabolized in the liver and undergoes enterohepatic recycling.[1] It is metabolized exclusively by glucuronidation and is not metabolized by the cytochrome P450 system.[1] Less than 1% of radiolabeled material in plasma comprises unconjugated raloxifene.[1] The elimination half-life of raloxifene is 27.7 hours.[1] Raloxifene and its glucuronide conjugates are interconverted by reversible metabolism and enterohepatic recycling, which prolongs the elimination half-life of raloxifene with oral administration.[1] Raloxifene is excretion mainly in the feces, with less than 0.2% of a dose excreted unchanged in the urine and less than 6% of a dose excreted in the urine as glucuronide conjugates.[1]


Raloxifene hydrochloride has the empirical formula C28H27NO4S•HCl, which corresponds to a molecular weight of 510.05 g/mol. Raloxifene hydrochloride is an off-white to pale-yellow solid that is slightly soluble in water.[18]

Raloxifene is a benzothiophene derivative and is structurally distinct from the triphenylethylene SERMs like tamoxifen, clomifene, and toremifene.[26] It is the only benzothiophene SERM to have been marketed.[26] A benzothiophene SERM that was not marketed is arzoxifene (LY-353381).[27] Bazedoxifene (Duavee, Viviant) and pipendoxifene (ERA-923) are structurally related to raloxifene but are technically not benzothiophenes and instead are indoles.[27]


Raloxifene was approved in the United States for the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis in 1997, the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis in 1999, and to prevent or reduce the risk of breast cancer in certain postmenopausal women in 2007.[28][11][29][12] It received orphan designation in 2005.[28]

Society and culture[edit]

A bottle of raloxifene.

Generic names[edit]

Raloxifene is the generic name of the drug and its INN and BAN, while raloxifène is its DCF and raloxifene hydrochloride is its USAN, BANM, and JAN.[30][31][32][33] It has also been known by the name keoxifene.[30][31][33]

Brand names[edit]

Raloxifene is sold mainly under the brand name Evista and to a lesser extent the brand name Optruma.[33][31] It is also sold under a variety of other brand names in various countries.[33]


Raloxifene is available widely throughout the world, including in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, elsewhere throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Latin America, Southern, Eastern, and Southeastern Asia, and elsewhere in the world such as in Israel and Egypt.[33][31]


An editorial in Lancet Oncology criticized the way that research about the medication for breast cancer prevention was released.[34]


Raloxifene has been studied in men for a variety of purposes, such as for the treatment of schizophrenia, prostate cancer, and osteoporosis.[35][36][37][38][39][25][24][40][41][42]

Raloxifene has been studied as an adjunct in the treatment of schizophrenia in postmenopausal women.[43] A 2017 meta-analysis concluded that it was safe and effective for this indication, although further studies with larger sample sizes are needed for confirmation.[43] It may be effective in women with less severe symptoms.[43]


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