HealthDay News — A new treatment for chronic constipation may bring relief without having to use drugs. It is a vibrating pill called Vibrant that stimulates the colon as it passes through the body. Although the pill was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration last August, doctors can start prescribing Vibrant this week.
“We are working right now with insurance companies to obtain coverage in commercial plans,” Cathy Collis, chief commercial officer for Vibrant Gastro Inc., told CNN. “But until we get that coverage, our goal and commitment is to make sure that this is accessible and affordable to patients.”
The company had to show the pills contained no toxic materials, could withstand an accidental bite, and did not carry risk for infections, becoming stuck, irritating tissues, or interfering with other medical devices, CNN reported.
A person prescribed the pill would take it at bedtime daily. The pill would then travel through the stomach and small intestine before reaching the large intestine about 14 hours later and stimulating nerve cells. In doing this, it causes muscle contractions that move food out. The pill then leaves the body with the feces. The pills are made of medical-grade material similar to what gastroenterologists use for pill cameras, CNN reported.
Vibrant is intended for the 10 to 20% of people who live with chronic constipation, having fewer than 3 bowel movements each week for unknown reasons and typically experiencing hard, painful stools.
To study the pill, 200 people with chronic constipation took Vibrant for 8 weeks, while another 149 took a placebo. In the group that took the actual Vibrant pills, 40% had at least one additional bowel movement each week, softer stools, and less bloating. About 23% had 2 or more additional bowel movements weekly. The placebo group also reported more bowel movements, with about 23% experiencing at least one more and 12% at least 2 or more additional bowel movements. Side effects appeared to be minimal and reported by more of those in the placebo group than in the vibrating pill group. The pill does not cause diarrhea, which is not true of most prescription laxatives.
The pills are authorized to treat adults who have not been helped by other constipation medication or cannot tolerate it. They are not meant for people who have trouble swallowing, have paralysis of the stomach, or have a history of bowel obstructions, CNN reported.
While Vibrant is not covered by insurance, the company is capping out-of-pocket costs at $69 by offering a coupon.