The approval is opposed by at least two women's groups and FDA scientists question whether the benefits of the drug, called Evista, outweigh its risks. If the drug is approved by the panel, the FDA will more than likely follow suit.
Evista was approved to prevent osteoporosis in 1997 and to treat it in 1999. Now, its manufacturer, Eli Lilly wants to market it for lowering invasive breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women who either have osteoporosis or a high risk for breast cancer.
Only one drug, tamoxifen is approved for cutting the risk of breast cancer in women who have never had the disease.
But tamoxifen also carries risks including a higher rate of uterine cancer, blood clots and stroke. A study released in 2006 that compared tamoxifen and raloxifene, the generic name for Evista, found the drugs were equally effective in cutting the risk of invasive breast cancers.