July 30, 2016
Recommended Topic Related To:


"Holiday celebrations are brimming with food and fun, but they also create special health and dietary challenges for the more than 2 million people in the United States with celiac disease, an intolerance of the protein gluten found in wheat, rye,"...





Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


Fibrosing Colonopathy

Fibrosing colonopathy has been reported following treatment with different pancreatic enzyme products.5,6 Fibrosing colonopathy is a rare, serious adverse reaction initially described in association with high-dose pancreatic enzyme use, usually over a prolonged period of time and most commonly reported in pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis. The underlying mechanism of fibrosing colonopathy remains unknown. Doses of pancreatic enzyme products exceeding 6,000 lipase units/kg of body weight per meal have been associated with colonic stricture in children less than 12 years of age.1 Patients with fibrosing colonopathy should be closely monitored because some patients may be at risk of progressing to stricture formation. It is uncertain whether regression of fibrosing colonopathy occurs.1 It is generally recommended, unless clinically indicated, that enzyme doses should be less than 2,500 lipase units/kg of body weight per meal (or less than 10,000 lipase units/kg of body weight per day) or less than 4,000 lipase units/g fat ingested per day [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

Doses greater than 2,500 lipase units/kg of body weight per meal (or greater than 10,000 lipase units/kg of body weight per day) should be used with caution and only if they are documented to be effective by 3-day fecal fat measures that indicate a significantly improved coefficient of fat absorption. Patients receiving higher doses than 6,000 lipase units/kg of body weight per meal should be examined and the dosage either immediately decreased or titrated downward to a lower range.

Potential for Irritation to Oral Mucosa

Care should be taken to ensure that no drug is retained in the mouth to avoid irritation of oral mucosa, and/or loss of enzyme activity. VIOKACE should not be crushed or chewed [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and PATIENT INFORMATION].

Potential for Risk of Hyperuricemia

Caution should be exercised when prescribing VIOKACE to patients with gout, renal impairment, or hyperuricemia. Porcine-derived pancreatic enzyme products contain purines that may increase blood uric acid levels.

Potential for Viral Exposure from the Product Source

VIOKACE is sourced from pancreatic tissue from pigs used for food consumption. Although the risk that VIOKACE will transmit an infectious agent to humans has been reduced by testing for certain viruses during manufacturing and by inactivating certain viruses during manufacturing, there is a theoretical risk for transmission of viral disease, including diseases caused by novel or unidentified viruses. Thus, the presence of porcine viruses that might infect humans cannot be definitely excluded. However, no cases of transmission of an infectious illness associated with the use of porcine pancreatic extracts have been reported.

Allergic Reactions

Caution should be exercised when administering pancrelipase to a patient with a known allergy to proteins of porcine origin. Rarely, severe allergic reactions including anaphylaxis, asthma, hives, and pruritus, have been reported with other pancreatic enzyme products with different formulations of the same active ingredient (pancrelipase). The risks and benefits of continued VIOKACE treatment in patients with severe allergy should be taken into consideration with the overall clinical needs of the patient.

Potential for Exacerbation of Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

VIOKACE tablets contain lactose monohydrate. Patients who have lactose intolerance may not be able to tolerate VIOKACE.

Patient Counseling Information

"See FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide)"

Dosing and Administration

  • Instruct patients and caregivers that VIOKACE should only be taken as directed by their doctor. Patients should be advised that the total daily dose should not exceed 10,000 lipase units/kg body weight/day unless clinically indicated. This needs to be especially emphasized for patients eating multiple snacks and meals per day. Patients should be informed that if a dose is missed, the next dose should be taken with the next meal or snack as directed. Doses should not be doubled [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
  • Instruct patients and caregivers that VIOKACE should always be taken with food. Patients should swallow the intact tablets with adequate amounts of liquid at mealtimes [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

Fibrosing Colonopathy

Advise patients and caregivers to follow dosing instructions carefully, as doses of pancreatic enzyme products exceeding 6,000 lipase units/kg of body weight per meal have been associated with colonic strictures in children below the age of 12 years [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Allergic Reactions

Advise patients and caregivers to contact their healthcare professional immediately if allergic reactions to VIOKACE develop [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Pregnancy and Breast Feeding

  • Instruct patients to notify their healthcare professional if they are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant during treatment with VIOKACE [see Use in Specific Populations].
  • Instruct patients to notify their healthcare professional if they are breast feeding or are thinking of breast feeding during treatment with VIOKACE [see Use In Specific Populations].

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Carcinogenicity, genetic toxicology, and animal fertility studies have not been performed with pancrelipase.

Use In Specific Populations


Teratogenic effects

Pregnancy Category C. Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with pancrelipase. It is also not known whether pancrelipase can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproduction capacity. VIOKACE should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed. The risk and benefit of pancrelipase should be considered in the context of the need to provide adequate nutritional support to a pregnant woman with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Adequate caloric intake during pregnancy is important for normal maternal weight gain and fetal growth. Reduced maternal weight gain and malnutrition can be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when VIOKACE is administered to a nursing woman. The risk and benefit of pancrelipase should be considered in the context of the need to provide adequate nutritional support to a nursing mother with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

Pediatric Use

The safety and effectiveness of VIOKACE in pediatric patients have not been established. In general, delayed-release (enteric-coated) capsules should be used for pediatric patients. Due to greater degradation in the gastric environment, VIOKACE, a non-enteric-coated, pancreatic enzyme replacement product, may have decreased bioavailability and therefore may be less efficacious than enteric-coated formulations.7, 8 Thus, use of VIOKACE in pediatric patients may increase the risk of inadequate treatment of pancreatic insufficiency and result in suboptimal weight gain, malnutrition and/or need for larger doses of pancreatic enzyme replacement [See WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS] The efficacy of VIOKACE was established in adult patients with concomitant proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy. The long-term safety of PPI use in pediatric patients has not been established.

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of VIOKACE did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.


1. Borowitz DS, Grand RJ, Durie PR, et al. Use of pancreatic enzyme supplements for patients with cystic fibrosis in the context of fibrosing colonopathy. Journal of Pediatrics. 1995; 127: 681-684.

5. Smyth RL, Ashby D, O'Hea U, et al. Fibrosing colonopathy in cystic fibrosis: results of a case-control study. Lancet. 1995; 346: 12471251.

6. FitzSimmons SC, Burkhart GA, Borowitz DS, et al. High-dose pancreatic-enzyme supplements and fibrosing colonopathy in children with cystic fibrosis. New England Journal of Medicine. 1997; 336: 1283-1289.

7. Gow R, Francis P, Bradbear R, et al. Comparative study of varying regimens to improve steatorrhoea and creatorrhoea in cystic fibrosis: effectiveness of an enteric-coated preparation with and without antacids and cimetidine. Lancet. November 14, 1981: 1071-1074.

8. Ansaldi-Balocco N, Santini B, Sarchi C. Efficacy of pancreatic enzyme supplementation in children with cystic fibrosis: comparison of two preparations by random crossover study and a retrospective study of the same patients at two different ages. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1988;7 Suppl 1:S40-5.

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 3/12/2012


Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration


You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

GI Disorders

Get the latest treatment options.