Pancreatin (Creon, Nutrizym, Pancrease, Pancrex)

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Pancreatin will help you to digest fat, starch and protein from your diet.

Take pancreatin with every meal or snack.

Drink plenty of water.

Type of medicinePancreatic enzyme
Used forCystic fibrosis
After surgery on the pancreas or stomach
Problems such as pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer
Also calledCreon®; Nutrizym®; Pancrease®; Pancrex®
Available asTablets, capsules, granules and powder

The pancreas normally makes digestive juices which contain chemicals (enzymes). These enzymes are greatly reduced in people with cystic fibrosis, pancreatic problems, or those who have had their pancreas removed. This can result in food not being digested or absorbed properly - in particular, fatty foods and fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K).

Pancreatin replaces the enzymes which normally come from the pancreas, and will help your body digest fats, starch and protein. You need to take it every time you eat, which can mean taking many doses each day.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking pancreatin it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are allergic to pork protein.
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding (although pancreatin is not known to be harmful).
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the specific brand of pancreatin you have been given, and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take pancreatin exactly as your doctor tells you to. Your doctor will tell you how much to take, and may adjust your dose from time to time to make sure it continues to be the right dose for you.
  • You will need to take pancreatin every time you eat a meal or a snack. It is also important that you have plenty to drink with pancreatin.
  • Take your doses either immediately before, or at the same time as, or immediately after eating your food. This is because acid in your stomach can stop pancreatin from working. The food you are eating will help protect the enzymes from the acid.
  • Pancreatin is available in a variety of different strengths and formulations. Carefully follow the directions for how to take the preparation you have been given.
  • Some preparations can be mixed with food; others need to be swallowed whole and must not be chewed.
  • Some capsules and granules are specially coated to protect them from stomach acid - these need to be taken with slightly acidic fruit juices such as apple or orange.
  • Do not mix pancreatin with very hot food or liquids. Heat will stop pancreatin from working properly.
  • Do not store mixtures of pancreatin; take your dose as soon as possible after mixing with food or drink.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. If you have cystic fibrosis, there will be many aspects to your treatment and you may need to go to a number of different clinics.
  • Children with cystic fibrosis need a high fat and carbohydrate diet. Your doctor will ask a dietician to give you detailed advice. High-energy drink supplements and vitamin supplements may also be needed.
  • Treatment with pancreatin is usually long-term. Continue to take it unless you are advised otherwise.
  • Each time you collect a prescription, check to make sure you have been given the same brand as before. If you are unsure, ask your pharmacist to check for you.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common pancreatin side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicineWhat can I do if I experience this?
Feeling or being sick, loose stools (diarrhoea), tummy (abdominal) painDiscuss this with your doctor, as the dose you are taking may need adjusting. Let your doctor know straightaway if, after taking pancreatin for some time, you develop any new or severe pain or sickness
ConstipationRemember to drink plenty of water/fluids
Mouth irritationSwallow pancreatin quickly so that it doesn't stay in your mouth for long. Let your doctor know about this
Sore or itchy bottom (often when taking high doses)Let your doctor know about this

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

If you are having an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • British National Formulary; 70th Edition (Sep 2015) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
3836 (v25)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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