Pancrelipase for pancreatic disorders: An update

Drugs Today (Barc). 2010 Nov;46(11):855-66. doi: 10.1358/dot.2010.46.11.1541553.


Pancrelipase is a porcine pancreatic extract which contains the digestive enzymes lipases, proteases and amylases. In patients with pancreatic exocrine insufficiency (PEI) from conditions such as chronic pancreatitis, pancreatectomy and cystic fibrosis, pancrelipase can be used as pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT). Pancrelipase can reverse steatorrhea, prevent weight loss, control pain and correct other nutritional deficiencies resulting from exocrine insufficiency. Various forms of pancreatic enzymes were being marketed as over-the-counter medications prior to the recent FDA declaration that all pancreatic enzyme products had to obtain approval as new drugs before marketing. On the basis of evidence from recent randomized controlled trials, three pancrelipase formulations (Creon®, Zenpep® and Pancreaze®) have been approved by the FDA as effective treatments for PEI. Although several tests exist for the detection of PEI, early diagnosis still remains a challenge. Individualization of the timing of treatment initiation and dosage requirements is needed to achieve optimal effectiveness. When used at recommended doses, pancrelipase is a safe medication. Appropriate use of pancrelipase in patients with pancreatic exocrine insufficiency can achieve symptomatic relief, prevent morbidity/mortality and also improve quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Approval
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / administration & dosage
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / adverse effects
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Diseases / physiopathology
  • Pancrelipase / administration & dosage
  • Pancrelipase / adverse effects
  • Pancrelipase / therapeutic use*
  • Quality of Life
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Pancrelipase