Pancrelipase for Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement

Prescription Pills
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There are many brands of pancrelipase. Some of the more common brands are:

Each brand of pancrelipase has a slightly different formulation, thus the brands are not interchangeable.

Overview

It technically is not a drug but a combination of lipase, amylase, and protease, which are enzymes needed for digestion of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Normally, the enzymes are produced in the pancreas, but people who have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis do not make them. Pancrelipase products are made from enzymes taken from pigs.

About 90% of all people with cystic fibrosis take pancreatic enzyme replacements.

Generic versions of pancrelipase may be available but are not recommended because their contents are unreliable and may not be effective. Until recently, pancrelipase replacement products contained unreliable and inconsistent amounts of enzymes. Many were still being regulated by outdated standards dating back to 1938. In 2004, the FDA decided that pancreatic enzyme products must undergo clinical testing and receive FDA approval in order to remain on the market.

Who Should Not Take Pancrelipase?

  • People who are allergic to pigs or pork
  • People who have had an allergic reaction to pancrelipase products.

How Is Pancrelipase Taken?

Pancrelipase comes in powder, capsule, or tablet form depending on the brand. It should be taken before meals and snacks, and should not be chewed or crushed. For infants, young children, and others who have difficulty swallowing pills, the capsules can be opened up and the contents mixed with food such as applesauce.

Storage

Pancrelipase should be kept at room temperature between 59 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit away from extreme heat or cold, moisture and light. Pancrelipase should never be stored in the refrigerator.

Adverse Effects

Some common adverse effects of pancrelipase include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Most of these symptoms can also be caused by the digestive problems experienced by people with cystic fibrosis, and so it may be difficult to identify the true source of the problem. If any of these symptoms occur, or continue to occur while taking the enzymes, they should be discussed with your prescribing physician.

Safety Warnings

Serious adverse effects are rare but have been reported. Immediately notify your physician if you have:

  • Bloody or severe diarrhea
  • Black, tarry stools
  • Pain or swelling in the big toe or other joints

Before taking pancrelipase, tell your physician if you:

  • Take other medications
  • Are allergic to pancrelipase or pork products
  • Are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding​
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