Racecadotril in the treatment of acute watery diarrhea in children

N Engl J Med. 2000 Aug 17;343(7):463-7. doi: 10.1056/NEJM200008173430703.


Background: Racecadotril (acetorphan), an enkephalinase inhibitor with antisecretory and antidiarrheal actions, is an effective and safe treatment for acute diarrhea in adults and children. Whether treatment with racecadotril and oral rehydration therapy is more effective than treatment with oral rehydration alone in hospitalized children with acute watery diarrhea is not known.

Methods: We treated 135 boys 3 to 35 months of age who had watery diarrhea of five days' duration or less with racecadotril (1.5 mg per kilogram of body weight orally every eight hours) or placebo, in addition to oral rehydration solution. The primary end point was the 48-hour stool output (measured in grams); the total stool output, duration of diarrhea, and total intake of oral rehydration solution were also measured.

Results: The mean (+/-SE) 48-hour stool output was 92+/-12 g per kilogram in the racecadotril group and 170+/-15 g per kilogram in the placebo group (P<0.001), a 46 percent reduction with racecadotril. The results were similar among the 73 boys with rotavirus infections. The total stool output was 157+/-27 g per kilogram in the racecadotril group and 331+/-39 g per kilogram in the placebo group (P<0.001). The median duration of diarrhea was significantly less (P<0.001) in the racecadotril group (28 hours regardless of rotavirus status) than in the placebo group (72 and 52 hours, respectively, for rotavirus-positive and rotavirus-negative patients). The intake of oral rehydration solution was significantly lower in the racecadotril group than in the placebo group (P<0.001). Racecadotril was well tolerated; only seven patients taking racecadotril had adverse effects, which were all mild and transient.

Conclusions: In young boys with acute watery diarrhea, racecadotril is an effective and safe treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Antidiarrheals / therapeutic use*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Developing Countries
  • Diarrhea / drug therapy*
  • Diarrhea / therapy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Feces / virology
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neprilysin / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Rotavirus / isolation & purification
  • Thiorphan / analogs & derivatives
  • Thiorphan / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors


  • Antidiarrheals
  • racecadotril
  • Thiorphan
  • Neprilysin