By Pratik Jain

(Reuters) -Nestle Health Science will buy the rights to Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ:)’ Vowst, the companies said on Thursday, gaining full access to the first-ever pill alternative to fecal transplants for a deadly infection.

Nestle’s unit will pay an undisclosed payment to Massachusetts-based Seres, and the drug maker will also receive capital infusions, the companies said.

Vowst fits within Nestle Health Science’s expertise, Moreno Perugini, president of medical nutrition at the latter, said in a statement, as its pharma business focuses on gastrointestinal diseases.

The drug was greenlit by the U.S. health regulator in 2023 to prevent the recurrence of Clostridioides difficile infections (CDI) in adults, generally caused by the prolonged use of antibiotics, which can lead to potentially fatal diarrhea and inflammation of the colon.

Government data estimates that CDI causes nearly half a million infections in the United States annually.

The approval paved the way for an easier and standardized option for patients who often rely on individual donors for fecal transplants.

Seres reported first-quarter net sales of $10.1 million for Vowst, which Nestle’s unit has co-commercialized since its U.S. launch in June 2023. TD Cowen analyst Joseph Thome models peak U.S. sales of $850 million for the drug in 2033.

After lower-than-estimated Q1 sales, the change implemented by partner Nestle has seen early signs of success, with the highest single-month net sales since the launch of $4.6 million in March and similar results in April, Thome said.

Vowst consists of a certain kind of bacteria made by purifying fecal matter derived from healthy people.

The pill competes with Switzerland-based Ferring Pharmaceuticals’ fecal transplant-based therapy delivered through an enema.