A BBC investigation suggests that most athletes who use recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) continue to get away with it. The investigative article reveals several reasons why the . But the BBC revealed that the biggest problem is not the ineffectiveness of the existing EPO tests used by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). It is a lack of testing for variants of EPO.
Athletes are using various “biosimilar” EPO agents for which WADA has not yet developed a detection method. WADA’s ballyhooed test for the previously undetectable Mircera (pegylated EPO) was an admission that the alreadywas unable to detect variants of EPO; the announcement of the new CERA (Mircera) test at the 2008 Tour de France was considered a major victory.
There are also dozens of “copycat” or “biosimilar” versions of EPO. These are variants of EPO that are produced by different methods or exist as slightly different biological forms of EPO e.g. darbepoetin alfa, epoetin alfa, epoetin beta, epoetin gamma, epoetin delta, epoetin epsilon, epoetin zeta, epoetin theta, epoetin kappa, epoetin omega. The existence of biosimilar versions of EPO is a major problem for drug testers (“,” July 21).
Because the medicine has been so successful financially, companies in India, China and Cuba have developed drugs that do a similar job in the body, but have a slightly different molecular fingerprint. These cheap versions of EPO, often called biosimilars, can be easily bought over the internet.
“There are now a number of compounds that bind to the EPO receptor, and there is no single test for them, you can order it here over the internet and it will be delivered to you here in the UK or in Germany; Chinese-made doping substances” [according to Professor Werner Franke].
Some scientists who track and monitor the development of copycat EPO drugs say there could be up to 80 different versions now being manufactured in different parts of the world.
A few biosimilar versions are available in the EU and Eastern Europe; however, a plethora of doping options are commercially available with biosimilar EPO pharmaceuticals produced around the world, particularly in Southeast Asia, several of which could be purchased inexpensively over the internet.
Abseamed (Medice Arzneimittel Pütter)
Bioetin (Nanogenpharma) [Vietnam]
Ceriton (Rambaxy) [India]
Epocim (CIMEQ) [Cuba]
Epoetin Alfa Hexal (Hexal Biotech Forschungs)
Epofer (Emcure) [India]
Epofit (INTAS Pharmaceuticals) [India]
Epogin (Chugai Pharmaceutical Company) [Japan]
Epokine (Macropharma Corporation) [Philippines]
Eporon (Century Pharmaceuticals) [India]
Eporon (Dong-A Pharmaceutical Company) [Korea]
Eposino (Shandong Kexing) [China]
Eposino (Hindustan Bio Sciences) [India]
Epotin (Claris Lifesciences) [India]
Epotrex-NP (Novell Pharmaceutical) [Indonesia],
Epoyet (Bio Sudis) [Argentina],
Eritina (Chalver Laboratories) [Columbia]
Eritrogen (Bioprofarma) [Argentina]
Eritromax (Blausiegel ) [Brazil],
Erykine (INTAS Pharmaceuticals) [India]
Espo (Kirin Brewery Company, Pharmaceutical Division) [Japan]
Espogen (Hoffman Health) [Pakistan]
Gerepo (North China Pharmaceutical Group Corporation) [Malaysia]
Hemapo (Innogene Kalbiotech) [Singapore]
Hemax (Seignior Pharma) [Pakistan]
Hypercrit (Biogalenic) [Venezuela]
PDpoetin (Pooyesh Darou Pharmaceuticals) [Iran]
Renoge (Biomedis) [Philippines]
Retacrit (Hospira/STADA) [Germany]
Shanpoietin (Shanta Biotechnics) [India]
Silapo (Bioceuticals Arzneimittel AG)
Vintor (Emcure) [India]
Wepox (Wockhardt) [India]
Zyrop (Zydus Biogenyc) [India]
I think the science director of WADA could be considered delusional in his claim that WADA is catching all users of recombinant EPO.
Dr Olivier Rabin is WADA’s science director. Is he happy that the test is catching all the drug cheats?
“I am reasonably confident, yes,” he told the BBC. “Now, it would be very presumptuous on my part to say that we are absolutely 100% sure we are going to get everyone. But I can assure you that if you were to take recombinant EPO and that would be in your urine – then, yes, we would detect it.“
Maybe the public will buy it, but the athletes already know better.
Hat tip to.