Pancrelipase contains a blend of digestive enzymes designed to facilitate the breakdown and absorption of fats, starches, and proteins present in ingested food. Its therapeutic applications are targeted towards individuals experiencing pancreatic insufficiency. Such conditions may include chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, pancreatic cancer, post-pancreatectomy, or post-gastrointestinal bypass surgery.
Pancrelipase is in a class of medications called enzymes. It acts in place of the enzymes normally made by the pancreas. It works to decrease fatty bowel movements and to improve nutrition.
Uses and Dosage
Pancrelipase is available in tablet and delayed-release capsule forms for oral administration, and is typically taken with ample water during meals or snacks, approximately 5 to 6 times per day. Pancrelipase should be taken exactly as prescribed; do not exceed or decrease the recommended dosage or take it more frequently than directed.
Pancrelipase is marketed under various brand names, and there may be distinctions among these products. Do not switch to a different brand of pancrelipase without consulting your physician.
The tablets and delayed-release capsules should be swallowed whole with a generous amount of water, and must not be crushed, chewed, sucked or held in the mouth. Ensure that no part of the tablet remains in your mouth after ingestion.
In the event that you are unable to swallow the delayed-release capsules whole, open them and blend the contents with a small quantity of a soft, acidic food such as applesauce. You can also sprinkle the contents of the capsule directly into the mouth of the patient. After taking the mixture, it is vital to drink a full glass of water or juice to facilitate medication absorption.
In the case of administering the capsules to a baby, it is best to sprinkle the contents onto a soft, acidic food such as jarred baby applesauce, bananas, or pears, or directly into the baby’s mouth. Ensure that the baby has swallowed all of the medication and to give them enough liquid to wash down the medication.
Initially, your doctor will likely prescribe a low dose of pancrelipase, which will gradually be increased based on your response to treatment and the amount of fat in your diet. Be sure to inform your doctor about any changes in your bowel symptoms during treatment. Do not adjust your medication dosage without consulting your physician.
Your physician will indicate the maximum daily dose of pancrelipase you should consume. Even if you consume more meals and snacks than usual, do not exceed this dose. If you are eating more than usual, discuss this with your doctor.
Pancrelipase is effective only when taken consistently. Continue taking it even if you feel well. Do not discontinue pancrelipase without consulting your doctor.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention:
- sore throat
- neck pain
- feeling full after eating a small amount
- irritation around the anus
- sore mouth or tongue
Inform your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any serious side effects:
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- stomach pain or bloating
- difficulty having bowel movements
- pain or swelling in joints, especially the big toe
Prior to taking pancrelipase, inform your physician or pharmacist of any allergies you may have, including allergies to pork protein or any inactive ingredients that may be present in the product. Inactive ingredients can lead to allergic reactions or other complications.
Before using this medication, discuss your medical history with your physician or pharmacist, particularly if you have a sudden and severe pancreas inflammation (acute pancreatitis), an abrupt worsening of long-term pancreatic disease, gout, kidney disease, elevated levels of uric acid in your blood (hyperuricemia), or intestinal issues.
If you have diabetes, pancrelipase may impact your blood sugar. Regularly monitor your blood sugar levels as directed by your doctor and share the results with them. Your doctor may need to modify your diabetes medication, exercise routine, or diet.
When pregnant, use this medication only if it is clearly required. Consult with your doctor regarding the potential benefits and hazards.
It is not clear whether this drug enters breast milk. Consult with your doctor prior to breast-feeding.
Form and Strength
Zenpep is available in the following forms and strengths:
- Zenpep (form)
- pancrelipase (form)
What happens if you take too much Zenpep?
Any pancreatic enzymes that your body doesn’t need will pass through you. If you take one or two more capsules than you need, this won’t be a problem.
How long does Zenpep help you digest?
Enzymes work for about 45 to 60 minutes after taking them.