This section is from the "A Handbook of Useful Drugs" book, by State Medical Examining and Licensing Boards.
A mixture of the enzymes naturally existing in the pancreas of warm-blooded animals, usually obtained from the fresh pancreas of the hog, Sus scrofa, or the ox, Bos taurus Samples on the market contain much extraneous matter.
Properties : Pancreatin occurs as a cream-colored, amorphous powder, having a faint, peculiar, not unpleasant odor, and a somewhat meat-like taste. It is partially soluble in water and should contain not more than 10 per cent, of insoluble matter. It is practically insoluble in alcohol. Commercial samples commonly contain no steapsin, and other ferments may be present in traces only.
Action and Uses: Pancreatin is used chiefly for the pre-digestion of protein and starchy foods. Since it is destroyed by the action of the gastric juice, its use for the digestion of food in the stomach is illogical, if the stomach contains any acid. In cases of achylia gastrica in which no hydrochloric acid is secreted, it may be given to secure the digestion of the food in the stomach. In such cases it is well to administer a small amount of an alkali, such as sodium bicarbonate, in order to neutralize any acidity that may be present. In view of the poor quality of pancreatin on the market its use is not to be recommended.
The attempt is sometimes made to further the digestion of protein in the intestines by the administration of pancreatin in pills or capsules coated so as to prevent the action of the gastric juice. The drug may be used in this manner in cases in which it is believed that the secretion of the pancreas is lacking or deficient, but this method is not usually very successful.
Dosage: 0.5 gm. or 7½ grains.
Pancreatin may be administered internally in the form of salol-coated pills or in gelatin capsules that have been treated with formaldehyd.