Medical conditions that deplete the body of certain enzymes can lead to secondary issues that may be harmful and life-threatening. Medications like Zenpep can help restore enzymes like these.
Common Conditions Treated with Zenpep
Zenpep, a brand name version of pancrelipase, combines three versions of these naturally occurring enzymes: amylase, lipase and protease. When functioning normally, the pancreas produces these enzymes so that the body can digest fats, sugars and proteins properly.
Conditions that can disrupt the body’s ability to produce these enzymes, also known as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), include:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Pancreatic inflammation
- Blocked pancreatic ducts
- Celiac disease
- Pancreatic tumor
- Crohn’s disease
Certain surgeries can also cause EPI, such as removal of the pancreas itself or gastric bypass and other GI-related surgeries. Lifestyle factors like smoking are also linked to chronic pancreatitis, which can lead to EPI.
Diagnosis of EPI can sometimes be difficult since its gastrointestinal symptoms are shared by other digestive issues. The condition develops slowly and physicians may not be able to assess it properly until EPI has been present for an extended period of time. Stool samples are analyzed in addition to blood tests to examine fat deposits or look for vitamin deficiencies. A CT scan may be necessary to help understand any underlying issues that may be causing EPI.
When a doctor prescribes a pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) like Zenpep, they will base the dosage on both a person’s dietary fat intake and their body weight. The medication must be taken with every meal, including snacks.
Side Effects and Risks Associated with Zenpep
Zenpep is considered an effective medication with relatively few side effects. In rare cases, a person may have an allergic reaction to Zenpep that manifests as hives or a rash. Other uncommon side effects may include abnormal gastrointestinal activity or inflammation and pain in the joints due to an increase of blood uric acid levels.
The most commonly reported side effects involve stomach pain, headaches or gas. Zenpep sources its enzymes from the pancreas of pigs, which may conflict with certain ethical, religious or personal values for some patients. Disclosure of these needs between a patient and their physician can help a physician assess their patient’s needs appropriately.
Medicare Coverage for Zenpep
Zenpep is a medication that is taken orally with every meal, so Medicare recipients will need a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan that includes Zenpep in its formulary in order to have costs associated with this medication covered. Part D prescription drug coverage can be sold as stand-alone plans or as part of a Medicare Advantage plan package. Both stand-alone and Medicare Advantage plans are provided by third-party insurers who determine which medications are included in their formularies and the cost-sharing obligations expected of enrolled Medicare recipients.
Low-income Medicare recipients can sometimes qualify for Part D Extra Help or other Medicaid-related savings programs that can reduce out-of-pocket expenses associated with prescription medications like Zenpep. Eligibility requirements can vary from state to state, so recipients interested in applying for these programs should consult with a representative in their local Medicaid office.