Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

There is a new battle brewing among doctors, patient advocates and pharma companies over — believe it or not — human excrement.

Driving the news: The fight is over fecal microbiota transplants, a remarkably effective treatment for the bacterial infection Clostridioides difficile, the New York Times reports. The battle is over whether the treatment — which involves transplanting healthy fecal matter into the bowels of patients suffering from the infection — should be classified as a drug or as a procedure akin to organ, tissue and blood transplants.

The FDA is expected to make a final decision soon, although in 2013 it made a draft decision to regulate the procedure as a drug.

  • The market for drug-based treatments for C. diff is expected to hit $1.7 billion by 2026, according to GlobalData.
  • Following the success of the procedure, scientists are currently trying to come up with similar treatments for disorders like obesity, autism, ulcerative colitis, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
  • Investors are pouring money into such endeavors.

One major concern for critics: Treating the therapy as a drug will give it a 12-year monopoly period upon approval.

  • They say this could slow innovation and cause patients who can't afford the procedure to attempt to replicate it at home.
  • And, of course, there's fear that this would lead to high prices for stool transplants.
  • Drug companies say that regulating the procedure as a drug will help ensure its safety and efficacy.

Go deeper

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 19,193,661 — Total deaths: 716,735 — Total recoveries — 11,611,029Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 4,918,927 — Total deaths: 160,737 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: White House recommends Trump issue executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus — Massachusetts pauses reopening after uptick in coronavirus cases
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

Trump: "We are going a different way" on coronavirus aid

President Trump. Photo: Jim Watsonn/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Friday that his administration is "going a different way" with coronavirus aid after negotiations with congressional Democrats stalled again, suggesting he will use an executive order to address stimulus spending.

What he's saying: "Pelosi and Schumer only interested in Bailout Money for poorly run Democrat cities and states. Nothing to do with China Virus! Want one trillion dollars. No interest. We are going a different way!" Trump tweeted.

Trump's swift, sweeping China offensive

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's rhetoric on China has tended to run hotter than his actions — until now.

Why it matters: Even at the height of Trump's trade war, his administration never hit China as hard, as fast, and on as many fronts as it is right now.