Racecadotril versus loperamide: antidiarrheal research revisited

Dig Dis Sci. 2003 Feb;48(2):239-50. doi: 10.1023/a:1021989606317.


Racecadotril is an enkephalinase inhibitor, presented as a purely antisecretory agent with advantages over the opiate-receptor agonist loperamide in the treatment of diarrhea. A critical review of the literature and the models used was performed. Although pretreatment with high doses of racecadotril reduced cholera toxin-induced secretion and although clinical efficacy was demonstrated in young infants--a population characterized by 10-fold higher plasma enkephalin concentrations compared with adults, the analysis calls into question the peripheral antisecretory selectivity and relative clinical efficacy. Conversely, loperamide can be proposed as an antisecretory agent at therapeutic concentrations. Its efficacy is well established in acute and chronic diarrhea. Current experimental and clinical comparative studies of both drugs have problems with regard to the selection of the doses, the validity of models, and/or the trial design. The conclusion is that more research is needed before reliable conclusions can be drawn on the place of racecadotril in diarrhea treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antidiarrheals / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diarrhea / diagnosis
  • Diarrhea / drug therapy*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Loperamide / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thiorphan / administration & dosage*
  • Thiorphan / analogs & derivatives*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidiarrheals
  • Loperamide
  • racecadotril
  • Thiorphan