Frequently asked questions about EPI and its underlying conditions and surgical procedures
EPI is a condition that affects your pancreas. Your pancreas makes enzymes, which help break down food so that your body can absorb nutrients. If you have EPI, your pancreas does not make enough enzymes to properly break down food.
Underlying conditions and surgical procedures that may cause EPI include cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, pancreatectomy, and pancreatic cancer. Other conditions and surgical procedures in which EPI has been reported include acute pancreatitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, and gastrointestinal surgery.
The signs and symptoms of EPI include diarrhea, gas, bloating, stomach pain, unexplained weight loss, and oily, foul-smelling stools (steatorrhea). If you have EPI, you may experience one, some, or all of these symptoms. It’s important to tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms and let them know about your medical history because EPI is due to an underlying condition or surgical procedure. Only your doctor can determine if EPI is the cause of your symptoms.
Learn more about EPI symptoms.
Because EPI affects your body’s ability to break down food, it may prevent you from absorbing enough nutrients, resulting in serious complications, such as malnutrition. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor if you think you might have EPI. If your doctor diagnoses you with EPI and prescribes a treatment, it’s important to continue taking it exactly as your doctor tells you.
Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapies (PERTs) are the standard of care for EPI. PERTs replace digestive enzymes that your body may be missing. Because PERTs help you digest food, they need to be taken every time you eat—with every meal and snack.
Pancreatectomy is a general term for the surgical removal of the pancreas; a pancreatectomy may be total or partial, depending on the condition. If you have had a partial pancreatectomy, you may develop EPI. If you have had a complete pancreatectomy, you will very likely develop EPI.
CP is inflammation of the pancreas that does not heal or improve; instead, it gets worse over time and may lead to permanent damage. Many patients with CP also have EPI because the pancreas becomes so damaged that it can no longer make enough enzymes for normal digestion. CP is the most common cause of EPI.
CF is a genetic disease that causes the body to produce thick, sticky mucus. This mucus clogs the lungs and leads to lung infections. The mucus also affects the digestive system by clogging the pancreas. Most people with CF also have EPI.
Frequently asked questions about CREON
CREON is a prescription medicine used to treat EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency), a condition that prevents people from digesting food normally because their pancreas does not make enough enzymes due to cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas that lasts a long time), pancreatectomy (removal of some or all of the pancreas), or other conditions.
CREON does not cure EPI, but it can help replace the digestive enzymes that your pancreas no longer makes. These enzymes help break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in food.
CREON contains 3 digestive enzymes:
- Lipase — breaks down fats
- Protease — breaks down proteins
- Amylase — breaks down carbohydrates (sugars)
Your doctor will prescribe a specific CREON dose based on things like your body weight and diet. CREON comes in 5 different dosing strengths: 3,000, 6,000, 12,000, 24,000, and 36,000. Don't be alarmed by these high dosing strength numbers. A healthy pancreas actually releases on average 720,000 lipase units during every meal. Your doctor will determine the dosing strength that best fits your needs. The CREON dose your doctor prescribes should always be taken with food. When eating snacks, you typically need half the dose used for meals.
Take CREON exactly as your doctor tells you to take it. Always take CREON with a meal or snack and enough liquid to swallow CREON completely. Do not crush or chew CREON capsules or their contents, and do not hold the capsule or capsule contents in your mouth. Crushing, chewing, or holding the CREON capsules in your mouth may cause irritation in your mouth or change the way CREON works in your body.
If you have trouble swallowing capsules, open the capsules and sprinkle the contents on a small amount of room-temperature acidic food, such as applesauce. Drink enough liquid to make sure the medicine is swallowed completely. Ask your doctor about other foods you can mix with CREON. Do not store CREON that has been mixed with food.
Your doctor will provide you with instructions on how much CREON to take for both meals and snacks. When eating snacks, you typically need half the dose used for meals. If you have questions, it's important to ask your doctor.
If you miss a dose, call your doctor or wait until your next meal or snack to take your usual number of capsules. Take your next dose at your usual time and do not make up for missed doses. Your dose should not be doubled.
CREON needs to be taken with every meal and snack to work as expected. The digestive enzymes in CREON need to mix with food and enter the stomach and the small intestine at the same time.
Take CREON exactly as your doctor tells you.
- You should not switch CREON with any other pancreatic enzyme product without first talking to your doctor.
- Do not take more capsules in a day than the number your doctor tells you to take (total daily dose).
- Your doctor may change your dose based on the amount of fatty foods you eat or based on your weight.
The most common side effects include increased blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) or decreased blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), pain in your stomach area, frequent or abnormal bowel movements, gas, vomiting, dizziness, or sore throat and cough. Always carefully discuss the risks and benefits of CREON with your doctor.
CREON may increase your chance of fibrosing colonopathy, a rare bowel disorder. Tell your doctor if you have a history of intestinal blockage or scarring or thickening of your bowel wall; if you are allergic to pork; or if you have gout, kidney problems, or worsening of painful, swollen joints. Call your doctor if you have any unusual or severe gastrointestinal symptoms or allergic reactions. Take CREON as directed by your doctor and always with food. Do not chew capsules as this may cause mouth irritation. Other side effects may include blood sugar changes, gas, dizziness, sore throat, and cough. These are not all the side effects of CREON. Please see the CREON
for more information. Always check with your healthcare professional and carefully discuss the risks and benefits before taking CREON.
- Store CREON at room temperature, 59°F to 77°F (15°C to 25°C). Avoid heat.
- You may store CREON at a temperature between 77°F and 104°F (25°C to 40°C) for up to 30 days. Throw away any CREON that has been stored at these temperatures for more than 30 days.
- Keep CREON in a dry place and in the original container.
- After you open the bottle, keep it closed tightly between uses to protect against moisture.
- Keep CREON out of the reach of children.
CREON is often covered by insurance. Contact your insurance provider to find out if CREON is covered under your particular insurance policy. You may also be eligible to save money on your CREON prescription through the CREON
CREON is often covered by Medicare Part D. Contact your Medicare Part D insurance provider to find out if CREON is covered under your particular insurance policy.
provides AbbVie medicines at no cost to qualified patients who are experiencing financial difficulties. Your doctor may apply for myAbbVieAssist on your behalf. Talk to your doctor to see if you qualify.
As a caregiver of someone with EPI, you can help your loved one or patient access financial support, multivitamin and nutritional products, CREON refill reminders, and educational resources by enrolling them in a CREON