|Systematic (IUPAC) name|
|Trade names||Generic (formerly Vermox)|
|Excretion||Faeces, urine (5-10%)|
|ATC code||P02 QP52|
|Mol. mass||295.293 g/mol|
|Melt. point||288.5 °C (551 °F)|
|(what is this?)|
Mebendazole or MBZ is a medicine used to treat infections by worms. This includes pinworms, roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. It is taken by mouth and acts to paralyze and kill worms infecting the digestive tract. This reduces the parasite burden to a low level, and since these worms are unable to complete their reproductive cycle within a single human host, the parasite burden remains low unless the person is reinfected. Mebendazole's low toxicity arises in part because very little of this drug is absorbed into the bloodstream. It is in the benzimidazole drug class.
It was introduced by Janssen Pharmaceutica in the early 1970s as an analog of an earlier drug, thiabendazole, relative to which it has the advantage of significantly reduced toxicity. It is included in the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medication needed in a basic health system.
Mebendazole is a highly effective, broad-spectrum antihelmintic indicated for the treatment of nematode infestations, including roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, threadworm, pinworm, and the intestinal form of trichinosis prior to its spread into the tissues beyond the digestive tract. Other drugs are used to treat worm infections outside the digestive tract, as mebendazole is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. Mebendazole is used alone in those with mild to moderate infestations. Mebendazole kills parasites relatively slowly, and in those with very heavy infestations, it can cause some parasites to migrate out of the digestive system, leading to appendicitis, bile duct problems, or intestinal perforation. To avoid this, heavily infested patients may be treated with piperazine, either before or instead of mebendazole. Piperazine paralyses the parasites, causing them to pass in the feces.
Mebendazole and other benzimidazole antithelmetics are active against both larval and adult stages of nematodes, and in the cases of roundworm and whipworm, kill the eggs, as well. Paralysis and death of the parasites occurs slowly, and elimination in the feces may require several days.
Mebendazole is pregnancy category C, which means it has been shown to cause ill effects in pregnancy in animal models, and no adequate studies of its effects in human pregnancy have been conducted. It is unknown whether it can be passed by breastfeeding.
Mebendazole sometimes causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, and elevated liver enzymes. In rare cases, it has been associated with a dangerously low white blood cell count, low platelet count, and hair loss, with a risk of agranulocytosis in rare cases
Carbamazepine and phenytoin lower serum levels of mebendazole. Cimetidine does not appreciably raise serum mebendazole (in contrast to the similar drug albendazole), consistent with its poor systemic absorption.
Mebendazole is thought to work by selectively inhibiting the synthesis of microtubules in parasitic worms, and by destroying extant cytoplasmic microtubes in their intestinal cells, thereby blocking the uptake of glucose and other nutrients, resulting in the gradual immobilization and eventual death of the helminths.
Discontinuation in United States
The last manufacturer of mebendazole in the United States, Teva Pharmaceuticals, announced on October 7, 2011, they have ceased manufacture of this product. As of December, 2011, it is no longer available from any manufacturer in the USA. No reason was given publicly for this discontinuation. Mebendazole formulations can be made by a compounding pharmacy at the request of a doctor. Mebendazole is still distributed in international markets by Johnson and Johnson and a number of generic manufacturers.
Several studies show mebendazole exhibits potent antitumor properties. MBZ significantly inhibited cancer cell growth, migration and metastatic formation of adrenocortical carcinoma, both in vitro and in vivo. Treatment of lung cancer cell lines with MBZ caused mitotic arrest, followed by apoptotic cell death with the feature of caspase activation and cytochrome c release. MBZ induced a dose- and time-dependent apoptotic response in human lung cancer cell lines, and apoptosis via Bcl-2 inactivation in chemoresistant melanoma cells.
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