Background: Modern pancreatin preparations consist of enteric-coated microspheres to protect the enzymes from gastric acid. There are, however, no clinical trials comparing different sizes of pancreatin microspheres with regard to fat excretion and fat intake.
Aim: To prove both equivalent efficacy and safety of conventional pancreatin microspheres and smaller pancreatin minimicrospheres in patients with exocrine insufficiency due to chronic pancreatitis.
Methods: In this prospective, randomized, double-blind, multicentre, crossover trial, patients with a stool fat excretion of > 7.5 g/day during a placebo period were randomly assigned either to the minimicrosphere/microsphere treatment sequence or vice versa. The primary end-point was the coefficient of fat absorption, which was calculated from fat excretion and fat intake during the course of a standardized diet. Stool weight, clinical symptoms and the safety of the preparations were also evaluated.
Results: Thirty-seven patients entered the study, of whom 23 fulfilled the criteria for the crossover period. In the per protocol analysis (n=18), the 90% confidence intervals for the coefficient of fat absorption of both crossover periods lay entirely within the equivalence range (P=0.02). The intention-to-treat analysis revealed similar results, but the equivalence range was slightly missed (P=0.07). Similar results were obtained for the secondary parameters and the reported adverse events.
Conclusions: Pancreatin minimicrospheres have been shown to be equally effective as microspheres in improving the coefficient of fat absorption in patients with exocrine insufficiency due to chronic pancreatitis.