Understanding Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) is a condition that occurs when the pancreas is unable to provide the enzymes needed to digest food, particularly an enzyme called pancreatic lipase that is needed to digest fats. This happens because of damage to cells in the pancreas. Because people with EPI lack these important enzymes, they cannot properly digest and absorb fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.2

Without digestive enzymes, patients with EPI suffer from:

  • Maldigestion: Impaired breakdown of food into nutrients for the body
  • Malabsorption: Inability to absorb these nutrients

The two most common conditions that lead to EPI are Cystic Fibrosis and Chronic Pancreatitis — however, other conditions can also lead to EPI.3

Digestive system diagram

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease that affects approximately 30,000 people in the United States.4

Approximately 66% of CF patients develop exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) shortly after birth. This number jumps to 85% by one year of age.5

Discuss with your doctor if you have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain
  • Oily stools
  • Unexplained weight loss