If you’ve ever had a colonoscopy, you’ve endured the misery of drinking that oddly-colored slimy liquid that’s required to clean out your system the day before the procedure. Soon, that unpalatable drink may be replaced by chocolate-flavored food bars and fruit smoothies.
For most people, fasting and drinking the colon preparation, or “prep” as it’s known, is the worst part of going through a colonoscopy—a routine procedure used to screen for cancer and other problems with the colon and rectum. In fact, some people avoid the procedure altogether rather than suffer through drinking that dreadful gallon of prep (it’s supposed to be fruit-flavored, but usually just tastes like salty slime). Of course, skipping the procedure is a bad idea, because, according to the American Cancer Society, nearly half of colon cancer deaths in the U.S. could be prevented if everyone over 50 got a preventive screening.
But now, there’s been an exciting development in the colonoscopy world. A company called ColonaryConcepts is testing flavored bars and fruit smoothies that they say may be able to replace the 64 ounces of liquid that patients normally drink before the procedure. They recently completed a phase two FDA trial with products containing the same purgative active ingredient, called polyethylene glycol (PEG) 3350, as the commonly used prep product.
The bars come in three flavors—lemon cooler, coconut, and white chocolate. Smoothies come in strawberry-banana and vanilla shake, and there are beverages in mixed berry and orange flavor.
“I’m really proud that we’ve invented something different that makes the experience so much easier,” said Dr. Corey Siegel
, a gastroenterologist at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, and a co-founder of ColonaryConcepts.
“Colon cancer is very treatable when caught early, and the best way to catch it early or prevent it entirely is colonoscopy,” he said. “We really have a public health problem on hand with people not wanting to do it because of the preparation.”
The bars and drinks were tested on 51 patients before their colonoscopies and test results were compared with 14 patients who used two other pre-colonoscopy drinks, Moviprep and Nulytely, which are both approved by the FDA.
Next page: Find out how the bars and drinks performed in the trials.
Doctors said bowel cleansing for 90% of the patients who used ColonaryConcepts’ top three bars and drinks was “excellent” or “good” in terms of effectiveness. That’s slightly better than the patients who used Moviprep and Nulytely—85% were of those were rated “excellent” or “good” in terms of cleansing.
Patients rated their satisfaction with the bars and drinks at 64%, compared to only 33% of those who used Moviprep and Nulytely.
“Patients participating in this clinical study reported high satisfaction,” said Joshua Korzenik, M.D.
, ColonaryConcepts co-founder, co-inventor of the investigational prep kit, faculty member at Harvard Medical School and the Director of Brigham and Women’s Hospital Crohn’s and Colitis Center. “That’s good news because we are determined to help make it easier for all patients to undergo regular colorectal screening – still recognized as the best way to catch this cancer at an early stage.”
“The results showed that a formulation of three food bars and two shakes containing PEG plus three glasses of electrolyte drink provided the best cleansing,” said Dr. Douglas Rex, a professor of medicine at Indiana University.
That means instead of 24 hours of fasting while drinking 64 ounces of slimy, grayish gruel, patients could instead receive a meal kit that includes a bar and a fruit drink to consume for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with two smoothies.
The phase three trial is scheduled for early in 2017. If everything goes well and results are favorable, these kits, which would be available by prescription, could hit the market sometime in 2018.