Researchers from Florida have stated on Tuesday that a short course of a drug could relieve severe diarrhea in children infected with rotavirus, which kills half a million youngsters in mainly poor countries each year.
Nitazoxanide, which is sold by the privately owned U.S. Company, Romark Laboratories under the brand name Alinia, had been found to clear up the problem in just over 30 hours in young children with a severe form of the illness. Jean-Francois Rossignol of The Romark Institute for Medical Research in Tampa, Florida said that these results were very encouraging, and it could even lead them to think about new approaches for the management of rotavirus disease in children.
Rotavirus is the most common cause of serious diarrhea in children. It can be spread by water, food or contact with contaminated surfaces. It also causes gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, which is an inflammation of the stomach and small intestines.
Nitazoxanide, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002, is the first new drug for treating gastrointestinal infections in children for more than 40 years. Rossignol made a study comparing the effects of nitazoxanide twice a day for three days, with a placebo given to 50 children with severe diarrhea who had all been admitted last summer at the Cairo University Children's Hospital.
The results that were published in the online edition of The Lancet medical journal are also being presented at the 7th International Rotavirus Workshop in Lisbon, Portugal. The report stated that the drug had cleared the illness in an average of 31 hours, less than half the time of the placebo group, without producing any side effects. Rossignol also stated that larger trials of the drug are being conducted to confirm the results.