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Drugs. 1997 May;53(5):769-88.

Anthelmintics. A comparative review of their clinical pharmacology.

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  • 1Wellcome Trust Centre for the Epidemiology of Infectious Disease, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK.


Virtually all the important helminth infections in humans can be treated with one of 5 anthelmintics currently in use: albendazole, mebendazole, diethylcarbamazine, ivermectin and praziquantel. These drugs are vital not only for the treatment of individual infections, but also useful in controlling transmission of the more common infections. This article reviews briefly the pharmacology of these 5 drugs, and then discusses current issues in the use of anthelmintics in the treatment and/or control of soil-transmitted nematode infections, filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis (and other trematode infections), neurocysticercosis and hydatidosis. Mebendazole and albendazole are most effective against intestinal nematodes, but are contraindicated during the first trimester of pregnancy. The efficacy of prolonged therapy with these 2 drugs for treatment of larval cestode infections has not yet been established. Diethylcarbamazine is widely used to treat and control lymphatic filariasis, but adverse effects related to death of microfilariae or damage to adult worms may be marked. While ivermectin has been used in the treatment of patients with onchocerciasis, it is also undergoing investigation against lymphatic filariae. Praziquantel, used to treat schistosome infections, is also effective in other trematode infections and adult cestode infections.

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