Study: Arzoxifene beats raloxifene in treating postmenopausal osteoporosis

An international team of researchers has announced that arzoxifene is more effective than raloxifene in treating osteoporosis among postmenopausal women.

Scientists from the U.S., Canada and Spain declared the disparity in a recent issue of the journal Osteoporosis International.

Arzoxifene and raloxifene are both in a class of medications called selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERMs), which inhibit certain diseases by occupying the estrogen receptors in particular organ systems. Raloxifene is also known by its U.S. brand name, Evista, and has been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In 2009, pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly, which produces raloxifene, decided not to pursue FDA approval for arzoxifene after certain negative health effects were reported in clinical trials, the Seattle Times reports.

In the new study, researchers investigated the drug's relative osteoporosis-fighting benefits as compared to raloxifene. Participants, all of whom were postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 75, were assigned one of the two medications, along with vitamin D and calcium supplements.

After a year, the team found that women who took arzoxifene experienced twice the increase in lumbar bone mineral density that those on raloxifene did.

Women taking arzoxifene also had a lower incidence of hot flashes than those on the other drug, at 7 percent versus 16 percent. Furthermore, arzoxifene was found to slow the rate of bone turnover, meaning that it inhibited the activity of osteoclasts, specialized cells that break down bone minerals.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation notes that, beyond prescription medication, vitamin supplementation is essential for postmenopausal health. Women aged 50 or older are encouraged to take 1,200 milligrams of calcium and up to 1,000 international units of vitamin D every day.