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.