Four hundred and ten patients with severe watery diarrhea, including 316 patients with cholera, were studied in a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial to determine if chlorpromazine (1 mg/kg) would be useful in the management of such patients. All patients were at least 7.5% dehydrated on admission into the study; all received intravenous fluids followed by oral rehydration solution and all received tetracycline. In addition, one-half of the patients received chlorpromazine, 1 mg/kg, orally as a single dose 2 h after admission. Effectiveness of the chlorpromazine was determined by comparing oral therapy failure rates, purging rates, vomiting rates, i.v. fluid requirements and hospitalization time in groups of the patients receiving and not receiving the drug. In children with severe cholera, e.g., with shock on admission or with very high purging rates, chlorpromazine lowered the oral therapy failure rate by about 50%. However, children with less severe cholera, adults with cholera, and patients of all ages with noncholera diarrhea could not be demonstrated to benefit significantly from the drug. In these groups of patients, oral therapy failures were rare irrespective of whether or not chlorpromazine had been given. We, therefore, do not recommend chlorpromazine in the routine management of patients with watery diarrhea; however, it may be useful in treatment of children with severe cholera when added to standard treatment of hydration and tetracycline.
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