A New Vibrating Pill Available To Help Chronic Constipation, And It Is Drug-Free
There’s good news for those who have trouble with bowel movements. There are small electronic capsules that are now available by prescription. Each capsule can be activated when these are placed in a specialized pod.
Yes, something is about to shake things up when it comes to chronic constipation relief, and this comes through a special product that doctors can prescribe – it’s called Vibrant. This is a first-of-its-kind alternative to the traditional laxatives that we have become so accustomed to. All you need to do is swallow the capsule. When it makes its way to the colon, this is where it vibrates to stimulate the gut’s natural movement.
Vibrant is around the size of a typical vitamin pill. The capsule was given the marketing authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last August 2022. Vibrant is a drug that’s been given the stamp of approval for treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation (constipation without a known cause) for those who were not able to find help from other laxative therapies for at least one month.
Symptoms of chronic constipation are as follows: less than three bowel movements per week, straining, hard stools, incomplete evacuation, and inability to pass stool. The list was according to the UCLA Center for Neurology of Stress and Resilience. In reality, as many as Up to 63 million people in North America meet the diagnostic criteria when it comes to chronic constipation.
“Vibrant should be viewed as another tool that is available to help patients, but it is not a cure for constipation,” said Linda Nguyen, MD. She is a gastroenterologist with Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, California. It must be noted that she is not affiliated with the company that makes the product. “Dietary, lifestyle, and other factors that can impact constipation should always be a part of every patient’s treatment plan,” she added.
How Effective is the Vibrant Pill
Vibrant was made with a tiny microchip programmed to start vibrating when once it reaches the large intestine, which is around 14 hours after ingestion. The capsule induces small vibrations when it’s in the colon for two periods of two hours each, spaced six hours apart.
“The vibrations come on for a few seconds, and then off and then on,” said Satish Rao, MD, PhD. He is the director of the digestive health clinical research center at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. “These vibrations locally induce muscle contractions, causing stools to move,” he said. Once the pill goes through the colon, it leaves the body in the form of a stool.
Dr. Rao was head of research that led to the FDA approval. In more than eight weeks, he and colleagues monitored 312 chronic constipation patients from more than 90 clinical centers all across the U.S. These people got either one Vibrant pill or a placebo (a sham pill) every day use, five times weekly.
Scientists saw that around 39 percent of those who got Vibrant had one or more additional complete spontaneous bowel movements each week. This was definitely more than when they began the treatment; 22 percent in the placebo group also reported similar increases. The study also took note that almost 23 percent of patients who received Vibrant had two or more additional bowel movements per week when compared to around the 11 percent who belonged to the placebo group.
Rao explained how the capsule’s mechanism of action was based on the scientific understanding of the body’s circadian rhythm, which is otherwise called “the biological clock.” This played a vital role in the digestive process.
“The vibrations excite the brain through the nerve connections between the gut and brain, and this improves gut and brain interactions, and possibly restores intestinal circadian biorhythm that may be disturbed in many constipated patients,” he said.
Vibrant Capsules with Less Significant Side Effects Compared to Medication Therapies
The research showed how Vibrant was actually safe and well-tolerated by the body. Dr. Nguyen noted that the Vibrant capsule does not seem to bring about diarrhea as a side effect. This was worth noting because it was one of the most common issues with laxatives and other constipation therapies that are available in the market.
As for the product itself, it is made of a medical grade material that is considered safe and inert for human consumption. The pills passed successfully through everyone’s digestive tracks in the clinical trials. As for those who suffered from certain conditions, there could be risks when the pill gets stuck in the gastrointestinal tract.
“Pill retention [where the pill does not leave the body] could occur if patients have a history of bowel obstructions, bowel surgeries, and inflammation in the bowel,” said Margaret Eugenio, MD. She is a gastroenterologist with the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. “In these cases of pill retention, endoscopy [inserting a long, flexible tube down the throat and into the esophagus] or surgery may be used to retrieve the pill.”
Right now, the researchers have yet to know how long-term benefits. “The studies so far suggest that after stopping the treatment, patients tend to go back to where they were — not to normal but back to being constipated,” said Eamonn Quigley, MD, who is the chief of gastroenterology at Houston Methodist Hospital. He is also one of the authors of the Vibrant research.
Cost of the Vibrant Capsules
Right now, the out-of-pocket cost is $89 monthly, as per Ben Feldman, the chief marketing officer for Vibrant. For those who are covered by commercial insurance, the company also offers an additional discount for a discounted total of $69 monthly. The company is also now working with Medicare and commercial insurers to look into coverage.
Vibrant capsules can only be available through a physician’s prescription. With doctor’s orders, the pill can be shipped directly to the patient.
Electronic pills are not new in the market. In fact, doctors already use vitamin-size endoscopy capsules built with tiny cameras inside in order to take pictures of the person’s digestive tract.
“It’s amazing how they can make this technology so minute,” said Dr. Quigley. “There is a long history with this miniaturized capsule technology doing a variety of things without any significant problems.”