Objectives To study the efficacy of raloxifene in preventing bone mineral density (BMD) loss in women receiving long-term glucocorticoids (GC). The study took the form of a parallel-group randomised double-blinded placebo-controlled trial.
Methods Postmenopausal women without hypercoagulability risk factors who were prevalent GC users were randomised to receive either raloxifene (60 mg/day) or placebo (1 tablet/day) on top of calcium (1000 mg/day) and calcitriol (0.25 μg/day). BMD of the hip and spine (primary outcome), bone turnover markers and new vertebral fractures (secondary outcomes) at month 12 were assessed.
Results Between December 2006 and December 2008, 114 patients were recruited (age 55.3±7.7 years). The duration and dose of prednisolone received was 62.2±64 months and 6.7±5.9 mg/day, respectively. Baseline vertebral fracture was present in six (5%) patients. In all, 57 patients were allocated to each of the treatment arms. Demographic data, osteoporotic risk factors and BMD at various sites were similar between the two groups of patients. At month 12, a significant gain in the lumbar spine (+1.3±0.4%; p=0.004) and total hip BMD (+1.0±0.4%; p=0.01) was observed in patients treated with raloxifene but a significant decrease in BMD of the lumbar spine (−0.9±0.4%; p=0.045) and hip (−0.8±0.3%; p=0.01) occurred in the placebo group. The femoral neck BMD did not change significantly in favour of raloxifene. Three new fractures developed exclusively in the patients treated with placebo. Bone formation (serum osteocalcin and procollagen type I N-terminal) and resorption (urine deoxypyridinoline and type I collagen) markers decreased significantly in the raloxifene group but not in patients treated with placebo. Leg cramps were numerically more frequent in the raloxifene group (7% vs 0%) but thromboembolism was not reported in any patients.
Conclusions In postmenopausal women receiving long-term GCs, raloxifene is well tolerated and significantly increases spinal and hip BMD after 12 months of treatment.
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Competing interests The principal investigator is independent of the sponsoring drug company with regard to the data analysis. He had full access to all of the data and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Research and Ethics Committee of Tuen Mun Hospital.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.