PancreasPre, Pro, Synbiotics

Bad results with probiotics reported during treatment of pancreatitis

Researchers at the University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands, reported more deaths when patients suffering from severe acute pancreatitis were treated with probiotics compared to placebo.

The study is called Probiotic Prophylaxis in Patients with Predicted Severe Acute Pancreatitis (PROPATRIA). It randomly assigned patients to a multispecies probiotic preparation (Ecologic 641) or placebo. Treatment was given twice daily through a tube in the nose for 28 days or until release from the hospital.

The primary objective was to determine any difference in infectious complications. The study was also designed to compare the rate of death between groups.

The results have not been published yet, but an article in PancreasWeb reports the findings.

  • “A total of 296 patients with acute pancreatitis were entered, of which 24 (16%) died in the probiotics group, and 9 (6%) in the control group.”
  • The expected death rate is 10%.

The bottom line?
The response from the voice of the nutraceuticals industry, “The fact remains that probiotics have displayed significant benefits for a range of health conditions, and the safety record is exemplary when used by the average health consumer at recommended intakes.”

There’s more.

“As undesirable as the situation is, it may serve as an interesting example of expecting too much from nutritional supplements. Whether it’s a probiotic, a pomegranate extract, an omega-3, or whatever, the bigger issue from these data may be that the benefit of nutrients is in the prevention, not cure of disease.”

Ecologic 64 is produced by Winclove Bio Industries, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It contains 6 strains of viable and freeze-dried bacteria, namely 4 lactobacilli: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactococcus lactis, and 2 bifidobacteria: Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium lactis.

2/3/08 13:08 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.