Skip to content

    Osteoporosis Health Center

    Font Size



    Generic Name Brand Name
    raloxifene Evista

    Raloxifene is taken in pill form every day. It can be taken at any time during the day. It is used only for postmenopausal women.

    How It Works

    Raloxifene is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), which works like estrogen on bone. It also works like an "anti-estrogen" on breast tissue and the uterus. As a result, raloxifene:

    • Prevents and treats osteoporosis by slowing bone thinning and causing some increase in bone thickness.
    • Lowers the risk of breast cancer.

    Why It Is Used

    Raloxifene is used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in women.

    Raloxifene can also be used to help prevent breast cancer in women who have a high risk for breast cancer.

    Raloxifene may be a good choice for women who are considering medicines to prevent or treat osteoporosis and who also have a high risk for breast cancer.

    How Well It Works

    Bone. Studies show that raloxifene increases bone density in the bones of the spine and neck. This lowers the risk for broken spinal bones.1 Although raloxifene works much like estrogen, it may not be as effective on bone.

    Breast cancer. Among high-risk women, raloxifene lowers the risk of breast cancer about as much as tamoxifen does.2

    Side Effects

    All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

    Here are some important things to think about:

    • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
    • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
    • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

    Call911or other emergency services right away if you have:

    Call your doctor right away if you have:

    Common side effects of this medicine include:

    See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

    What To Think About

    Raloxifene raises your risk of dangerous blood clots. So does bed rest. If you plan to have a surgery followed by bed rest, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce the risk of blood clots around the time of surgery.

    Do not take raloxifene if you are taking certain medicines, such as cholestyramine, to lower the amounts of cholesterol in your blood, or if you have liver disease.

    Taking medicine

    Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

    There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

    Advice for women

    Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.

    There are not good studies that show whether or not the drug can harm a baby through breast-feeding. Talk to your doctor before taking this drug if you are breast-feeding.


    Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

    Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


    1. Drugs for postmenopausal osteoporosis (2011). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 9(111): 67-74.

    2. Vogel VG, et al. (2006). Effects of tamoxifen vs. raloxifene on the risk of developing invasive breast cancer and other disease outcomes: The NASBP study of tamoxifen and raloxifene (STAR) P-2 trial. JAMA, 295(23): 2727-2741.

    ByHealthwise Staff
    Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
    Specialist Medical ReviewerCarla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine

    Current as ofNovember 14, 2014

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

    Today on WebMD

    Women working out and walking with weights
    Reduce bone loss and build stronger muscles.
    Chinese cabbage
    Calcium-rich foods to add to your diet.
    woman stretching
    Get the facts on osteoporosis.
    Porous bone
    Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.
    senior woman
    Woman holding plate of brocolli
    wrist xray
    Superfood for Bones
    mature woman
    sunlight in hands
    man and woman in front of xray
    woman with dumbbells