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Generic Name

pancrelipase (pan cree LI pace)


Trade Name

Ku-Zyme HP
Pancrease (Pancrease , MT 4, MT 10, MT 16, MT 20 )
This drug is available in a generic form.


What is pancrelipase?

The pancreas is a gland that resides behind the stomach. It secretes insulin into the blood to regulate blood sugar. It also makes digestive enzymes which flow into the intestinal tract. These enzymes are necessary to break down protein, carbohydrates and fat so they can be digested. Pancrelipase is a mixture of the fat dissolving enzyme, lipase, the protein enzymes such as protease, and those that break down carbohydrates, like amylase. The enzymes in pancrelipase come from pork. If you have allergies or religious restrictions to pork, you should know this.


What is it used for?

Pancrelipase is used to treat a deficiency of pancreas secretion. This may occur in chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, or in any condition such as surgery or cancer where the pancreas duct is blocked and enzymes cannot reach the intestine.


How do I take it?

Follow your physician’s instructions carefully. Pancrelipase works best when taken just before, during or immediately after meals. You may open the capsules and sprinkle the contents over food but avoid chewing or crushing the microspheres inside the capsules. Keep all medications away from children. Never share your medications with anyone else.


What do I do for a missed dose?

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. Since it is only effective when taken with food, it doesn’t help to take it more than an hour after eating. Do not double up on this medication at the next meal.


Are there interactions with food or beverages?

There are no known interactions with food or beverages.


Are there interactions with other drugs?

An interaction generally means that one drug may increase or decrease the effect of another drug. Also, the more medications a person takes, the more likely there will be a drug interaction.

Interactions with this drug may occur with the following:

  • antacids containing calcium or magnesium (Tums, Maalox, Mylanta)
  • iron supplements


Is there a problem if I have another disorder or disease?

At times, a drug may have a different or enhanced effect when other diseases are present. At other times, the drug may worsen or effect another disease. Pancreas enzymes may be a problem with patients who have asthma or pork sensitivity. High doses of the enzymes may raise the blood uric acid and, in those who are predisposed, lead to a gout attack.


What about allergies?

People who have known allergies or asthma may be at an increased risk for a reaction from any new medication. The physician should always know a patient’s allergy history. Signs of an allergic reaction are skin rash, hives or itching. Of course, a person should not take pancrelipase if allergic to pork proteins or enzymes or if there has been a previous reaction to this or a similar drug.


What if I’m pregnant, considering pregnancy or breast-feeding?

Most females now know that, if possible, no drug, including alcohol, should be taken during pregnancy or lactation. The potential danger, of course, is an injury to the baby. However, some drugs are much safer than others in this regard. So, the FDA has a grading system for each drug which reflects what is known medically. It ranks drugs from A, where medical studies show no evidence for danger to the fetus or mother, to B, C, D and X, where the medical evidence indicates that the risk to the fetus outweighs any benefit to the mother. Pancrelipase is ranked C. Always consult your physician before taking any drug during or when planning pregnancy.


What are the effects on sexual function?

There are no known adverse effects on sexual function.


Are there other precautions?

Do not spill the powder on your hands and do not inhale the powder as it may irritate the skin and membranes in the nose and windpipe, causing cough or even an asthma attack. Drugs in this class are not interchangeable. Do not change brands without checking with your doctor.


How long is it safe to take pancrelipase?

This medicine is indicated for a chronic condition and is safe for long-term use. As with all medical conditions, periodic check-ups and reevaluations are recommended.


How about side effects?

Adverse reactions can occur with any drug, even over-the-counter medications. Some of these are mild such as a stomach upset, which may be avoided by taking the medication with food. Minor reactions may go away on their own but if they persist, contact the physician. For major reactions, the patient should contact the physician immediately.

For pancrelipase, the following are the observed side effects:


  • stomach cramps
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • rash
  • hives


A physician’s comment…

These preparations usually cause few problems. It needs to be remembered that proteins, which is what pancreas enzymes are, are broken down by stomach acid and rendered useless. Because of this, medications to reduce stomach acid are needed with many pancreas enzyme preparations. Other manufacturers coat the pellets within the capsule so they do not break down until the alkaline environment of the small intestine is reached. These are generally more expensive but stomach acid reduction medications are not needed. Remember that these medications must be taken with meals because that is when they are needed to break down the food.