- What are oral digestive enzymes?
- What diseases and conditions are treated with oral digestive enzymes (PEPs)?
- Are oral digestive enzymes available by prescription and over-the-counter (OTC)?
- What are examples of prescription oral digestive enzymes available in the US?
- What are the side effects of oral digestive enzymes?
- What drugs interact with oral digestive enzymes?
- What formulations of oral digestive enzymes are available?
- Are taking oral digestive enzymes during pregnancy or while breastfeeding safe?
What are oral digestive enzymes?
Oral digestive enzymes are complex proteins naturally produced by the body to help digest and breakdown the foods we eat. The pancreas is the organ responsible for making and secreting digestive enzymes. Oral digestive enzymes are used when the pancreas is unable to produce enough digestive enzymes.
The main digestive enzymes are
- proteases for digesting proteins,
- lipases for digesting fats, and
- amylases for digesting carbohydrates.
These digestive enzymes are available in pancreatic enzyme products (PEPs).
What diseases and conditions are treated with oral digestive enzymes (PEPs)?
PEPs are used in people with pancreatic diseases such as
- cystic fibrosis,
- Shwachman-Diamond syndrome,
- chronic pancreatitis,
- pancreatic cancer or tumors, or
- removal of all or part of the pancreas.
Additionally, PEPs may be used in gastrointestinal disorders such as
- celiac disease,
- Crohn's disease, and
- in certain cases of poor digestion associated with deficiencies in pancreatic enzymes.
Are oral digestive enzymes available by prescription and over-the-counter (OTC)?
Digestive enzymes are available over-the-counter (OTC) or by prescription.
- OTC products are not approved by the FDA and should not be used with the intent to cure or treat any aliments.
- OTC digestive enzymes are mainly used as a dietary supplements to help with digestion.
- OTC dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA and may contain impurities and varying quantities of active ingredients.
A person should speak to their doctor or pharmacist if he/she is interested in starting an OTC regimen.
Prescription digestive enzymes come in various formulations and may contain different amounts of individual digestive enzymes. Therefore, prescription digestive enzymes are not clinically interchangeable and are not considered bioequivalent by the FDA.
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