The U.S. government has given its approval to a new kind of pill that is made from human poop. It is the first pill of its kind and the second treatment that uses human poop to help people who have a serious infection in their gut.
Human Poop Pills: A Breakthrough Treatment for C. diff Infections
The infection is caused by a germ called “C. diff” that can grow out of control when people take antibiotics for other illnesses. Antibiotics can kill the good bacteria that live in the gut and keep C. diff under control. When C. diff grows too much, it can cause diarrhea, stomach pain, fever and sometimes even death.
The new pill, called Vowst, contains live bacteria from the poop of healthy people who donate their stool. The bacteria can help restore the balance of the gut and stop C. diff from coming back. The pill is for people who are 18 years or older and who have had C. diff more than once.
The pill is easier to take than the other treatment that uses human poop, which is a liquid that has to be put into the rectum with a tube. That treatment, called “Rebyota”, was approved in December 2022 and is also for people who have had C. diff more than once.
Both treatments are made from human poop that is carefully screened and tested to make sure it is safe and effective. The treatments are called “fecal microbiota products” because they use the microbes that live in the feces.
The government official who approved the pill said that it is a big step forward for people who have this dangerous infection and that it will make it easier for them to get the treatment they need.
C. diff and fecal microbiota products
- C. diff causes about 15,000 to 30,000 deaths a year in the U.S., according to the government.
- C. diff can be spread by contact with contaminated surfaces or hands, so good hygiene is important to prevent it.
- Fecal microbiota products are not the same as fecal transplants, which are procedures that transfer donor stool into the patient’s gut through different methods, such as colonoscopy or pill.
- Fecal transplants are still considered experimental by the government and are not approved for any condition.
- Fecal microbiota products and fecal transplants are different from probiotics, which are supplements that contain live bacteria or yeast that may help with some health problems.