New drug-free vibrating pill may help relieve chronic constipation
Starting this week, doctors can prescribe Vibrant, an unprecedented alternative to traditional laxatives. The patient swallows a capsule, which enters the colon, where it vibrates to stimulate natural bowel movements.
A capsule the size of a typical vitamin pill has been approved in the United StatesThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Vibrant in August 2022 for the treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation (constipation with no known cause) in people who have not found relief from other laxatives for at least a month.
According to the UCLA Center for Stress and Resilience Neurology, symptoms of chronic constipation include fewer than three bowel movements per week, straining, hard stools, incomplete bowel movements, and an inability to defecate. Up to 63 million people in North America meet diagnostic criteria for chronic constipation.
“Vibrant should be considered as another tool available to help patients, but it is not a cure for constipation,” says Dr. Linda Nguyen, a gastroenterologist at Stanford Health Care in Redwood City, California, who is not affiliated with the company that creates vibrancy.”Diet, lifestyle and other factors that can influence constipation should always be part of every patient’s treatment plan.”
How does the vibratory pill work?
Vibrant contains a tiny microchip programmed to start vibrating when the pill reaches the colon, around 14 hours after ingestion. The capsule causes small vibrations in the colon for two periods of two hours each, six hours apart.
“The vibration lasts for a few seconds, then goes off and on again,” says Dr. Satish Rao, MD, director of the Clinical Research Center in Digestive Health at Augusta University Medical College of Georgia.“These vibrations trigger local muscle contractions, causing the stool to move.”
Once the pill has passed through the colon, it leaves the body with the stool.
dr Rao led the research that led to FDA approval. For eight weeks, he and his colleagues followed 312 chronic constipation patients at more than 90 clinical centers across the United States, who received either a Vibrant pill or a placebo (a dummy pill) five times a week each day.
The researchers found that about 39 percent of patients treated with Vibrant had one or more extra spontaneous bowel movements per week since starting treatment; 22 percent in the placebo group had a similar increase. The study found that nearly 23 percent of patients who received Vibrant had two or more extra bowel movements per week, compared with about 11 percent in the placebo group.
Rao says the capsule’s mechanism of action is based on a scientific understanding of the circadian rhythm, also known as the “biological clock,” which plays an important role in the digestive process.
“The vibrations stimulate the brain through neural connections between the gut and the brain, which improves gut-brain interaction and potentially restores gut biorhythms, which can be disrupted in many constipation sufferers,” he says.
Vibrant Capsules have fewer side effects than constipation medication.
studies have shown that Vibrant is safe and well tolerated.dr Nguyen noted that the Vibrant capsule does not appear to cause a side effect of diarrhea, which is one of the most common problems with laxatives and other constipation treatments on the market today.
The product is made of medical material, which is safe and inert to the human body.
The tablets were used successfully by all participants in the clinical study, but patients with certain medical conditions are at risk of the tablet getting stuck in the digestive tract.
“Pill retention [when the pill doesn’t leave the body] can occur when patients have a history of bowel obstruction, bowel surgery, and intestinal inflammation,” says Dr Washington in Seattle.”In these cases of pill retention, endoscopy [insertion of a long, flexible tube down the throat and esophagus] or surgery can be used to get the pill out.”
At this point, researchers don’t know how long-term the benefits are.
“Previous research suggests that after stopping treatment, patients tend to go back to where they were — not normal, but constipated,” says Dr. Eamonn Quigley, chief of gastroenterology at Houston Methodist Hospital and one of the authors of the Vibrant study.
How much do vibration capsules cost? The current cost price of the
is $89 per month, according to Ben Feldman, director of marketing at Vibrant. For patients who have commercial insurance, the company is offering an additional discount that would bring the price up to $69 per month. The company works with Medicare and commercial insurers to get you covered.
The vibration capsules must be prescribed by a doctor.If the doctor recommends taking Vibrant, the product will be sent directly to the patient.
Electronic tablets are not new. For example, doctors are already using vitamin-sized endoscopy capsules with tiny cameras inside to take pictures of the digestive tract.
“It’s amazing how they can make this technology so small,” says Dr. Quigley.”There’s a long history of this miniaturized capsule technology doing things without any significant problems.”