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Neurology. 2001 Apr 24;56(8):1075-9.

A randomized efficacy and safety trial of oxandrolone in the treatment of Duchenne dystrophy.

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Department of Neurology, Ohio State University College of Medicine, USA.



A pilot study suggested that oxandrolone, an anabolic steroid, improved strength in boys with Duchenne dystrophy (DD) and indicated the need for a more definitive study.


A 6-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of oxandrolone in boys with an established diagnosis of DD, using the change from baseline to 6 months in the average muscle strength score (MMT) as the primary efficacy measure.


The mean change from baseline for the oxandrolone group was +0.035 and that for the placebo group was -0.140. Although the oxandrolone group did not get worse and the placebo patients showed some deterioration in strength, the difference was not significant (p = 0.13). The average of the four quantitative muscle tests (QMT) showed a significant improvement in the oxandrolone-treated boys as compared with placebo. No adverse reactions attributable to oxandrolone were recorded.


Although oxandrolone did not produce a significant change in the average manual muscle strength score as compared with placebo, the mean change in QMT was significant. Because oxandrolone is safe, accelerates linear growth, and may have some beneficial effect in slowing the progress of weakness, it may be useful before initiating corticosteroid therapy.

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