Oxymetholone, sold under the brand names Anadrol and Anapolon among others, is an androgen and anabolic steroid (AAS) medication which is used primarily in the treatment of anemia. It is also used to treat osteoporosis, HIV/AIDS wasting syndrome, and to promote weight gain and muscle growth in certain situations. It is taken by mouth.
Side effects of oxymetholone include increased sexual desire as well as symptoms of masculinization like acne, increased hair growth, and voice changes. It can also cause liver damage. The drug is a synthetic androgen and anabolic steroid and hence is an agonist of the androgen receptor (AR), the biological target of androgens like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It has strong anabolic effects and weak androgenic effects.
Oxymetholone was first described in 1959 and was introduced for medical use by 1961. It is used mostly in the United States. In addition to its medical use, oxymetholone is used to improve physique and performance. The drug is a controlled substance in many countries and so non-medical use is generally illicit.
The primary clinical applications of oxymetholone include treatment of anemia and osteoporosis, as well as stimulating muscle growth in malnourished or underdeveloped patients. However, in the United States, the only remaining FDA-approved indication is the treatment of anemia.
Following the introduction of oxymetholone, nonsteroidal drugs such as epoetin alfa were developed and shown to be more effective as a treatment for anemia and osteoporosis without the side effects of oxymetholone. The drug remained available despite this and eventually found a new use in treating HIV/AIDS wasting syndrome.
Presented most commonly as a 50 mg tablet, oxymetholone has been said to be one of the “strongest” and “most powerful” AAS available for medical use. Similarly, there is a risk of side effects. Oxymetholone is highly effective in promoting extensive gains in body mass, mostly by greatly improving protein synthesis. For this reason, it is often used by bodybuilders and athletes.
See also: Anabolic steroid § Adverse effects
The common side effects of oxymetholone include depression, lethargy, headache, swelling, rapid weight gain, priapism, changes in skin color, urination problems, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain (if taken on an empty stomach), loss of appetite, jaundice, breast swelling in men, feeling restless or excited, insomnia, and diarrhea. In women, side effects also include acne, changes in menstrual periods, voice deepening, hair growth on the chin or chest, pattern hair loss, enlarged clitoris, and changes in libido. Because of its 17α-alkylated structure, oxymetholone is hepatotoxic. Long term use of the drug can cause a variety of serious ailments, including hepatitis, liver cancer, and cirrhosis; therefore periodic liver function tests are recommended for those taking oxymetholone.
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