Enzyme Therapy for Pancreatic Insufficiency: Present Status and Future Needs

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Pancreatic enzyme extracts have been used for several decades to decrease maldigestion of macro-and micronutrients due to pancreatic insufficiency and to alleviate various abdominal symptoms, including the pain of alcohol-induced chronic pancreatitis and distal intestinal obstruction. Decreasing nutrient maldigestion and malabsorption in pancreatic insufficiency is of additional critical importance because improvement in nutritional status reduces morbidity and mortality. For example, pancreatic sufficient patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) demonstrate a slower decline in pulmonary function. In spite of the recognized importance of pancreatic enzymes, several problems exist with current preparations, and as newer enzyme preparations are marketed, proper evaluation becomes critical. There is a clear need to optimize the constituents of enzyme preparations, improve manufacturing processes, and find better sources of enzymes. Other issues that need addressing include standardization of the ratios of enzymes (lipase, amylase, protease) in these products; the stability of the enzymes at room temperature; the shelf life of the finished product; whether there are significant batch-to-batch differences; and the need for a USP reference standard.

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