pancreatin (pan cree ah TIN)
Creon (Creon 5, Creon 10, Creon 20 ) This drug is available in a generic form.
What is pancreatin?
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. Pancreatin 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 pancreatin may come from pork, beef or vegetables. If you have allergies or religious restrictions to any of these items, you should know this.
What is it used for?
Pancreatin 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. Enzymes work best when taken just before, during and immediately after a meal. When possible, swallow the pills whole. Do not crush or chew. If you have difficulty in swallowing the capsule, open it and sprinkle the contents on soft foods such as applesauce or gelatin. Do not chew the mixture. Swallow immediately after mixing and follow with a glass of water. 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 medicine at the next meal.
Are there interactions with food or beverages?
There are no known adverse 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 can raise the blood uric acid so that those people who are predisposed may develop 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 pancreatin if there has been a previous reaction to this drug, to pork protein or enzymes, 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. Pancreatin 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 inhale powder dosage forms or powder from capsules because it may irritate the membranes in the nose and windpipe and cause asthma. Products within this class are not interchangeable. Do not change brands without checking with your physician.
How long is it safe to take pancreatin?
This medicine is indicated for a chronic condition and it is considered safe for long-term use for many years. As with all medical conditions, periodic check-ups 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 pancreatin, the following are the observed side effects:
- stomach cramps
- skin rash
A physician’s comment…
These medications usually cause few problems. Some preparations are damaged by stomach acid and rendered useless. In this situation, medications to reduce stomach acid are needed. With other products, the pellets within the capsule are coated so they do not break down until the alkaline fluid of the small intestine is reached. These products are generally more expensive. Remember that these medications must be taken with meals because that is when they are needed to break down the food.