Kaopectate is an orally taken medication from Chattem, Inc. for the treatment of mild diarrhea. It is also sometimes used to treat indigestion, nausea and stomach ulcers. The active ingredients have varied over time, and are different between the United States and Canada. The original active ingredients were kaolinite and pectin. In the U.S., the active ingredient is now bismuth subsalicylate, the same as in Pepto-Bismol. In Canada, attapulgite is used.
The active ingredient in kaopectate has changed since its original creation. Originally, kaolinite was used as the adsorbent and pectin as the emollient. Attapulgite (a type of absorbent clay) replaced the kaolinite in the 1980s, but was found to be unproven as to effectiveness by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in a ruling made in April 2003. As a consequence, since 2004, bismuth subsalicylate has been used as the active ingredient in U.S. marketed products. In Canada, McNeil Consumer Healthcare continues to market kaopectate using attapulgite as the active ingredient.
Use on animals
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have a clear stance on the administration of kaopectate products on animals such as dogs and cats that are suffering from diarrhea. However, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association Journal news article noted in 2003 that the new subsalicylate formulation might be harmful to cats, which do not tolerate salicylates well. Kaolin-pectate, the original compound, was approved by the OTA (Organic Trade Association) for use in animals being produced for food.