What is Zenpep Uses, warnings & interactions
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Zenpep (pancrelipase) is a type of pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy for people who cannot process food normally. It is manufactured by Nestlé HealthCare Nutrition, Inc. Zenpep was approved in 2009 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to replace digestive enzymes in patients with conditions such as cystic fibrosis.
If your doctor has prescribed Zenpep to you, you may want to know more about what it is and how it works. Here we’ll explain what Zenpep is used for, how it works, its side effects, and more.
What is Zenpep used for?
Zenpep is a combination of porcine (pig) derived lipases, proteases, and amylases used to treat exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) due to conditions such as cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, or gastrointestinal bypass.
How does Zenpep work?
Zenpep is typically used by people who have problems with digesting food because their pancreas doesn’t make enough digestive enzymes. Following activation in the small intestine, Zenpep releases high levels of lipase, amylase, and protease, which help your body break down and digest fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
What are the most commonly prescribed doses of Zenpep?
- 3,000 USP units of lipase; 10,000 USP units of protease; 14,000 USP units of amylase in a delayed-release capsule
- 5,000 USP units of lipase; 17,000 USP units of protease; 24,000 USP units of amylase in a delayed-release capsule
- 10,000 USP units of lipase; 32,000 USP units of protease; 42,000 USP units of amylase in a delayed-release capsule
- 15,000 USP units of lipase; 47,000 USP units of protease; 63,000 USP units of amylase in a delayed-release capsule
- 20,000 USP units of lipase; 63,000 USP units of protease; 84,000 USP units of amylase in a delayed-release capsule
- 25,000 USP units of lipase; 79,000 USP units of protease; 105,000 USP units of amylase in a delayed-release capsule
- 40,000 USP units of lipase; 126,000 USP units of protease; 168,000 USP units of amylase in a delayed-release capsule
Before taking Zenpep
Before beginning Zenpep, tell your doctor about your medical conditions, including:
- Allergy to pork products
- History of intestinal blockage
- Fibrosing colonopathy (thickening of your bowel wall)
- Kidney disease
- Hyperuricemia (high blood uric acid levels)
- Are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding
How to take Zenpep
- Read the Full Prescribing Information, Instructions for Use, and Medication Guide that comes with Zenpep.
- Take this medication exactly as your doctor prescribes it to you. Do not change your dose or stop taking Zenpep without discussing it with them first.
- Always take Zenpep capsules with a meal or snack.
- Do not crush or chew Zenpep capsules or their contents. You should also not hold the capsule or contents of Zenpep in your mouth. This may irritate your mouth or change how well Zenpep works.
- Store Zenpep in a tightly closed container at room temperature between 68º to 77ºF (20° to 25°C) away from excessive heat and moisture. Always keep Zenpep and any other medications out of the reach of children.
For adults and children:
- Swallow Zenpep capsules whole. If you have trouble swallowing Zenpep capsules, open them and sprinkle the contents on soft foods such as applesauce, pureed bananas, or pears. Swallow the mixture right away followed by water or juice.
- If you miss a dose of Zenpep, wait until your next meal or snack and take your usual dose. Do not take extra Zenpep capsules to make up for missed doses.
For infants (up to 12 months):
- Give Zenpep before each feeding with formula or breast milk. Open the Zenpep capsule and sprinkle it on some soft foods such as applesauce or pureed fruit. You should give them the mixture immediately and then give them enough liquid to ensure they completely swallowed it. Do not mix the contents of the capsule into their formula or breast milk. You can also sprinkle the contents directly into your infant’s mouth, followed by enough liquid to make sure they swallowed it. Check your infant’s mouth to make sure all of the contents of the capsule were swallowed.
Currently, there are no contraindications for this medication per the manufacturer.
- High doses of pancreatic enzymes can cause a rare bowel disorder called fibrosing colonopathy. You should use caution if your Zenpep dose is higher than 2,500 lipase units/kg of body weight per meal or if it is higher than 10,000 lipase units/kg of body weight per day.
- Do not chew or hold Zenpep capsules or their contents in your mouth as it can cause mouth irritation.
- You should use Zenpep with caution if you have an allergy to gout, kidney impairment or high levels of uric acid, or an allergy to pork products.
Zenpep drug interactions
When Zenpep is taken with other medications, it may change the way they work or increase the frequency and severity of side effects. You should discuss with your doctor whether any of the prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements you take may interact with this medication. No formal drug interaction studies have been performed with pancreatic enzyme products such as Zenpep.
Zenpep side effects
Some common side effects of Zenpep include:
- Stomach pain
- Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Mouth irritation
- Changes in bowel movements (constipation or diarrhea)
- Sore throat
Zenpep can sometimes cause more serious side effects, including:
- Serious allergic reactions (hives, swelling of the face or throat, and shortness of breath)
- Worsening joint pain
- Colon damage
- Increased uric acid levels
Contact your healthcare professional for medical advice about any possible side effects you experience while taking Zenpep. You can report your adverse reactions to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.
Your doctor can prescribe other medications if Zenpep is not right for you. They will vary by factors such as side effects and cost. Some FDA-approved alternatives to Zenpep include:
Can you take Zenpep while you are pregnant or breastfeeding?
There is no drug-related risk of major birth defects, miscarriage, or other adverse effects of Zenpep on the mother or unborn baby. There are no formal studies on the use of Zenpep during lactation. Because Zenpep is not absorbed very well into the bloodstream, it is not expected to affect breastfed infants. You should always discuss the risks and benefits of any medication with your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
Does Zenpep cause weight gain?
No, Zenpep does not cause weight gain. In fact, during clinical trials, 6% of patients taking Zenpep lost weight.
How long does it take Zenpep to work?
After taking Zenpep by mouth, it can take as little as 30 minutes for the enzymes to get delivered to the intestines and start digesting fats, carbs, and proteins.
How long can you take Zenpep?
Pancreatic enzyme replacement is typically a long-term therapy. It will depend on the condition causing your pancreas to not make enough digestive enzymes. People who have had their pancreas removed will have to take Zenpep for the rest of their lives.
How long does Zenpep stay in your system?
Zenpep is minimally absorbed into your bloodstream and works in your intestines to help break down your food. It only works for a short period of time so you must take a dose of Zenpep with every meal or snack.
Is there a generic for Zenpep?
Currently, there is no generic Zenpep available on the market. The average cost of Zenpep 40KU/126KU/168KU is almost $4,000 for #240 capsules. However, you can save on brand-name drugs like Zenpep through NiceRx if eligible for assistance.
The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.