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Methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta is the active ingredient of a drug marketed by Hoffmann-La Roche under the brand name Mircera. Mircera is a continuous erythropoietin receptor activator (CERA) indicated for the treatment of patients with anaemia associated with chronic kidney disease. It is the first approved, chemically synthesised erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA). Mircera is supplied as a solution in pre-filled syringes for intravenous or subcutaneous administration. Mircera was approved for use in Europe in July 2007 by the European Commission, in September 2007 by the Swissmedic, and in November 2007 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States.

Methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta differs from traditional erythropoietin through the formation of a chemical bond between either the N-terminal amino group or the Єamino group of any lysine present in erythropoietin and methoxy polyethylene glycol butanoic acid.1 The average molecular weight is approximately 60kDa.[1] The drug stimulates erythropoiesis by interacting with the erythropoietin receptor on progenitor cells in the bone marrow.[1]

Mircera can reportedly replace traditional EPO drugs as blood doping agent in endurance sports. The drug appears to fall under section S2 of the list of substances officially prohibited - in competition and out of competition - in France and by the World Anti-Doping Agency.[2]

On April 19, 2009, the IAAF confirmed that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) discovered that three track and field athletes returned positive tests to the Mircera following re-analysis of samples taken by the IOC in Beijing at the 2008 Summer Olympics. The IAAF understands that the relevant National Olympic Committees have been notified.[3]

On July 17, 2008, Italian bicycle racer Riccardo Riccò was kicked out of the Tour de France after reports that a urine sample tested positive for Mircera.[4][5] There had not previously been any public acknowledgment that a test for the new drug was being administered, or had even been developed yet. The Tour de France testing was done under the auspices of the French Cycling Federation and the French Anti-Doping Agency.[6][7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Macdougall IC, Eckardt K-U. (2006), "Novel strategies for stimulating erythropoiesis and potential treatments for anaemia", Lancet, 368, p. 947–953.
  2. Substances et méthodes interdites en permanence (en et hors compétition) (Décret no 2008-35 du 10 janvier 2008 portant publication de l’amendement à l’annexe de la convention contre le dopage, adopté par le groupe de suivi lors de sa 26e réunion le 12 novembre 2007 à Madrid.)
  3. http://www.iaaf.org/antidoping/news/newsid=50372.html Retrieved 2009-07-07.
  4. VeloNews | Riccardo Riccò tests positive; Saunier Duval team withdraws from Tour de France
  5. Wyatt, Edward. "Tour de France team out after test", The New York Times, 2008-07-18.
  6. The 2008 Tour de France under the control of the French Cycling Federation. Amaury Sport Organisation (2008-03-06). Retrieved on 2008-07-17.
  7. L’Agence française de lutte contre le dopage (in French) Accessed 2008-07-17
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