|ALTERNATIVE STEROID NAMES:||Erythropoetin, EPO, Eprex, Epoetin, EPO, Procrit, Eprex, NeoRecormon, Darbepoetin, Aranesp, Erythropoietin, Erythropoetin, Epogen, Eritrogen, Hemax, Hypercrit, Pronivel, Recormon, Culat, Erypo, Eritina, Hemax-Eritron, Tinax, Epokine, Wepox, Bioyetin, Erlan, Yepotin, Eposino, Dynepo, Epoetinum alfa|
|Usual dosages:||4000 I.U. (0.4 ml.) every two or three days|
Erythropoietin (EPO) is a primary growth factor involved in regulating red blood cell formation in the human body. Isolation and manufacture of this hormone for medical purposes has proved extremely beneficial. This hormone is used to treat many forms of anemia, effectively stimulating and maintaining erythropoiesis in a large percentage of patients treated. The efficiency of this drug quickly made it a ready replacement for older (less effective) therapies such as Anadrol 50. The structure of recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO) is a purified single chain polypeptide hormone, 165 amino acids in sequence. The compound is produced from animal cells, into which the gene coding for human erythropoietin has been inserted. The biological activity or r-HuEPO is indistinguishable from that of human erythropoietin.
Endurance athletes are highly attracted to EPO for the effect it has on red blood cell production. It is no secret that the practice of “blood doping” is popular with endurance sports. This procedure involves removing and storing a quantity of blood from your body, to be later replaced. By adding this stored blood before an event (by then the body has restored the lost blood volume), the athlete has a much greater number of red blood cells. The blood can therefore transport oxygen more efficiently, and the athlete is given a noticeable endurance boost. This has no doubt been the difference between winning and losing for many individuals. This procedure however, carries with it a great number of risks. Blood is a difficult thing to store and administer, not to mention the problems that can occur with the extra cell volume. Some of these risks are reduced with EPO, a drug that basically equates to “chemical blood doping”. While one does not have to worry about storing and injecting blood, problems with cell volume can still be very dangerous with this drug. Cell concentration can reach a life threatening point if this drug is incorrectly used, resulting in heart attach, stroke, seizure or death.
There are also a number of side effects associated with general use of this substance. Most notable, blood pressure can begin to rise are cell volume changes. This can reach the point of headaches and high blood pressure, obviously an unwanted effect. Additionally, flu-like symptoms, aching bones, chills and injection site irritations are also possible. Since athletes are not using this product for a medical condition, a strong incidence of side effects should be an indicator to discontinue using the drug. Clearly one should not wish to compromise their health for an athletic push.
Erythropoietin is available in an injectable solution, to be given subcutaneously (between the skin and muscle) or intravenously. The two paths of administration have greatly different effects on the blood level of the drug. When given as an IV injection, peak blood levels of the drug are reached very quickly. The half-life is also short, approximately 4 or 5 hours long. When administered “SubQ”, the drug will take 12 to 18 hours to reach a peak level. Given an equal dose, this concentration will also be much lower than the intravenous method. The half-life also greatly extended, estimated to now be approximately 24 hours. When used clinically, the starting dosage range is 15-50 U/kg of bodyweight, given three times per week. By this guideline a 176 lb athlete would take a maximum of 4000 U per injection, or .4 ml., every two or three days. This would be done in the days/weeks prior to a competition, the peak effect hopefully reached near the day of the event.
The user would be best served by familiarizing him/herself with Epogen long before using it competitively. This way a specific intake schedule could be devised, the athlete knowing how best to administer it each time. This will also help to avoid any complications brought about by last minute dosing adjustments due to inexperience with this compound. The discussed dosage range is also adjusted upwards of 100 IU/kg per application in many clinical cases, however athletes should be very careful when tinkering with this drug. The potential side effects are very serious, and certainly not to be ignored. Remember that it is also very important to monitor blood cell counts during the intake of EPO. Watching that your red blood cell count stays within limits is the surest way to avoid any serious complications.
Due to the intricate manufacturing process, EPO is a very expensive compound. Since it is additionally a drug specific to certain athletic fields, it is not common on the black market. Those looking to purchase EPO will instead generally find it (obviously) within circles of endurance athletes. It is also easy to obtain via a number of foreign mail-order sources. Since this is not a controlled substance, it does not carry the same import restrictions that are placed on anabolic steroids.