A brief look at the drug darbepoetin, which was found in urine
and blood samples from cross-country skiers Johann Muehlegg of
Spain, and Olga Danilova and Larissa Lazutina of Russia.
What it does: Darbepoetin (dar-be-POH-e-tin) stimulates the bone marrow to
produce red blood cells. It is normally used in cases of anemia
where the body cannot produce enough red blood cells on its own,
often because of kidney problems.
How you get it: Darbepoetin was approved in September by the Federal Drug
Administration. It is available only with a doctor's prescription.
It is usually given by injection.
How it works: People with severe anemia usually feel very tired and lack
energy, sometimes severe enough to require blood transfusions.
Taking darbepoetin increases production of red blood cells, and
patients often start to feel better in a few weeks.
The drug is similar to eryhthropoitein or EPO, a hormone that
boosts production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to the
Darbepoetin only corrects anemia. It has no effect on kidney
disease or any other medical problem.
Possible side effects: Abdominal or stomach pain; vomiting; fever; headaches;
hypertension; muscle aches and soreness; chest pain.
-- The Associated Press