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Pancrelipase (Viokase®, Pancrezyme®)

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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Overview

  • The pancreas is an organ found next to the stomach and upper small intestine (duodenum). This organ serves as both an endocrine (hormonal) organ and an exocrine organ that produces enzymes needed for the normal digestion of food.
  • The most common pancreatic disorder resulting in inability to normally digest food is pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. This may occur from repeated bouts of pancreatic inflammation (pancreatitis), or it can occur as a consequence of atrophy or abnormal development of the organ.
  • Pancrelipase is a product made from the pancreas of pigs. It is primarily composed of pancreatic enzymes, particularly the enzymes lipase and amylase. These enzymes are crucial for normal digestion.
  • In the absence of these crucial pancreatic enzymes, animals may eat voraciously but cannot digest their food. In time, the animal will lose weight and literally starve.
  • It has been found that by applying pancreatic enzyme directly to food prior to eating helps affected pets digest their food more normally and can drastically improve their health.
  • Pancrelipase is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans and animals.
  • Human formulations: Pancrelipase is supplied by numerous drug companies with a variety of trade names and various generic formulations.
  • Veterinary formulations: Viokase® (Fort Dodge), Pancrezyme® (Daniels)

    Uses of Pancrelipase

  • Pancrelipase is used to help digest food in animals affected with deficiencies in pancreatic-derived enzymes (pancreatic exocrine insufficiency), whether of juvenile or acquired (adult) onset.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, pancrelipase can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Pancrelipase should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to pork products.
  • Excessive doses of pancrelipase can result in abdominal cramping, diarrhea or nausea.

    How Pancrelipase Is Supplied

  • Pancrelipase is available in many different forms that include tablets, capsules and powders.
  • For animals, the powder form has been found the most effective and therefore is most commonly used.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • For dogs, 1 to 2 teaspoons of the powder is mixed in the food and allowed to stand for 15 to 20 minutes prior to eating.
  • For cats, 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of the powder is mixed in the food and allowed to stand for 15 to 20 minutes prior to eating.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse. Pancrelipase is often prescribed for the life of the animal.




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