Evista..... Wellness for Women?

On Dec. 10, 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted permission for Eli Lilly and Company to market raloxifene for the prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Evista, Eli Lily's brand name for raloxifene, landed in U.S. pharmacies a month or two later.

The news about Evista had been, as MedicineNet's Chief Editor commented, "all over the press." So why deal with it here? Does the world need yet one more article about this drug?

Estrogen has been used for years for the prevention of both osteoporosis and coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women. Now, Evista is being highly heralded as an important alternative to estrogen replacement therapy.

The crowning of Evista, a custom-designed estrogen, as the next wonder drug is well underway. For example, the respected health writer Jane E. Brody did a piece about Evista entitled "Study Finds a New Estrogen Offers Benefit Without Risk" in The New York Times (Dec. 4).

Benefit without risk? That is the issue MedicineNet wishes to consider here for our viewers. Is it true or false? Is Evista a Fountain of Youth or, at least, a Fountain of Wellness for women?

First, a little background. As a woman enters menopause, her ovaries stop producing estrogen. Low levels of estrogen can cause a number of health problems. These include thinning and weakening of bones (osteoporosis), and increased blood levels of total and LDL cholesterol (the "bad cholesterol") with increased risks of atherosclerosis and heart attacks.