Pancrelipase for Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement

A Closer Look at Pancrelipase and What This Enzyme Does

Prescription pill bottles
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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.

Is There Generic Pancrelipase?

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 Many were still being regulated by outdated standards dating back to 1938.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.

What Is Pancrelipase?

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 with cystic fibrosis do not make them. Pancrelipase products are made from enzymes taken from pigs.

Who Is Pancrelipase for?

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

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.

    How Should Pancrelipase Be Stored?

    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.

    What Are the Adverse Effects of Pancrelipase?

    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.

    Are There Safety Warnings for Pancrelipase?

    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

    How Much Does Pancrelipase Cost?

    A 30-day supply of pancrelipase costs between $50 and $250, depending on the brand and strength. Financial assistance is available directly from some of the manufacturers.

    Source:
    Carroll, R., and Hendeles, L. “Pancreatic Enzyme Supplementation in Cystic Fibrosis Patients”.2001. U.S. Pharmacist. 27:01.

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