Soil-transmitted helminths, or helminths, are intestinal worms leading to stomach pain, diarrhea, and rectal prolapse. Mebendazole, pyrantel pamoate, levamisole, and albendazole are the currently approved medicines for the treatment of helminths, but their efficacy is controversial. This study aims to evaluate the efficacy of these recommended drugs against helminths.

In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers included randomized trials from the datasets of ISI Web of Science, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Clinical Trials, WHO library database, ScienceDirect, and PubMed. The trials evaluating the efficacy of single-dose mebendazole, pyrantel pamoate, levamisole, and albendazole against helminths were recognized. The primary outcome of the study was the cur rate of helminths.

The research suggested that all the prescribed drugs were highly effective against soil-transmitted helminths. Of all drugs, albendazole exhibited the highest efficacy against helminths infection (cure rate 79.5%, egg reduction rate 89.6%). When different types of helminths were considered, all drugs showed promising efficacy against A. lumbricoides and the least efficacy against T. trichiura. Against T. trichiura, mebendazole demonstrated the highest cure rate (42.1%).

The research concluded that all four recommended medications for helminths were effective, but showed limitations against certain types of helminths. Besides, all drugs had low efficacy against T. trichiura.