Bentiromide (Oral)

Bentiromide is a diagnostic agent administered by mouth to screen for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or how well the pancreas is working.


Bentiromide is used to examine whether the pancreas is working as it should. It is used as a screening test for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and monitoring the inadequacy of supplemental pancreatic therapy. It is administered orally as a noninvasive test. The amount of 4-aminobenzoic acid and metabolites released through urine is taken as a measure of the chymotrypsin secreting activity of the pancreas.

How it works

A healthy pancreas should produce the right chemicals in proper proportions, to digest the produced food.

Exocrine function

The pancreas contains exocrine glands that are responsible for secreting enzymes essential for digestion. These enzymes include chymotrypsin and trypsin that digests proteins, amylase that digests carbohydrates, and lipase that breaks down fats and lipids. As food enters the stomach, these pancreatic juices are secreted into the pancreatic duct. The pancreatic duct joins with the bile duct to form the ampulla of Vater, which is located in the duodenum, the first portion of the small intestine. The common bile duct originates in the gallbladder and the liver and secretes another important digestive juice called bile. The bile and the pancreatic juices are then released into the duodenum to help the body digest proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

Endocrine function

The endocrine component of the pancreas is made up of islet cells (islet of Langerhans) that produce and release essential hormones directly into the bloodstream. Two of the key pancreatic hormones are insulin, which is responsible for lowering the body's sugar level, and glucagon, which is responsible for raising the blood's sugar levels. Maintaining the right blood sugar levels is critical to the functioning of key organs such as the liver, brain, and kidneys.

How bentiromide test is done

As already mentioned, bentiromide is administered orally as a single dose. After taking the medication, all of your urine is collected for up to six hours. The total amount is measured and a sample saved for further examination of the concentration of 4-aminobenzoic acid and other metabolites. Your healthcare provider may repeat this test after every seven days.

What to know before using bentiromide

Whether bentiromide needs to be prescribed is a decision for your healthcare provider to make. It is important that the benefits of this test outweigh its potential risks. Here are some of the factors that should influence the decision to perform this test:

  • Allergies - inform your healthcare provider of any allergic reactions you might have to this drug or any of its ingredients. Also, inform your healthcare provider about allergic reactions to any specific medication, food, dyes and fabric.
  • Pediatric - studies have confirmed the benefits of this medication to children of six years and older; however, there are no studies that indicate whether the use of bentiromide has any effect on younger children.
  • Geriatric - there are no studies on the effect of this medication on older people, as well as any risks posed by the medication to older people. That said, it is known that this bentiromide might cause an increase in sensitivity within older people.
  • Pregnancy - inform your doctor if you are pregnant or are planning to conceive while on this medication. There are no studies indicating whether this medicine is safe for use during pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding - inform your doctor if you are breastfeeding. While there are no studies confirming whether this medication can be passed through breast milk, its safety for infants cannot be guaranteed. Thus, it should only be used by nursing mothers when potential benefits far outweigh potential risks.
  • Drug interactions - inform your healthcare provider about any medications you are currently taking, including prescribed and non-prescribed, supplements, vitamins as well as herbal medications. This is important because certain medications should never be used together.

Conditions treated

  • Screening test for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • Screening test to monitor the adequacy of supplemental pancreatic therapy

Type of medication

  • Diagnostic Agent, Pancreatic Function

Side effects

Along with the intended effects, a medicine may also cause some undesired effects. While not all these side effects may occur, it is important that you seek direction from your healthcare provider if their severity becomes life-threatening.

Rare bentiromide side effects

  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulty

Some bentiromide may not need medical attention. These side effects usually go away as the body adjusts to medication. Also, your healthcare provider may be able to advise you on ways to manage these side effects. However, if the side effect, like shortness of breath or breathing difficulty, intensifies, make sure that you seek emergency help as soon as you can.

More common bentiromide side effects

  • Diarrhea
  • Headache and lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • General body weakness
  • Gas

Other side effects not mentioned here may occur in some patients. Call your doctor for help or questions on these side effects. You may also report the side effects to the FDA through 1-800-FDA-1088.

Bentiromide dosage

Bentiromide dosage does vary from patient to patient. Make sure you follow your doctor's prescription or read the directions on the label for proper use. The following information is only the average bentiromide dosage. If your dose is different, do not change it without the approval of your healthcare provider.

The amount of bentiromide administered also depends on the following factors:

  • The strength of the medicine
  • The number of doses administered per day
  • The time recommended between doses
  • The length of time you take the test
  • The medical problem for which you are using the medication
  • Age and body weight


Bentiromide overdose is unlikely. However, if you suspect overdose, be sure to seek direction from your healthcare provider. You may also report bentiromide overdose to the local Drug and Poisons Center in your area.

Missed dose

Seek direction from your healthcare with respect to a missed dosage. Do not double dose to make up for a missed bentiromide dosage.

Bentiromide interactions

Although certain medications should never be used together, in some cases two different medications may be used even if an interaction might occur. In such cases, your doctor may propose a change of dose or suggest other precautions necessary to counter interactions.

When you are taking bentiromide, it is specifically important that your healthcare provider know if you are using any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen like Tylenol
  • Pancreatic supplements like pancrelipase - Use of pancreatic supplements together with bentiromide may give false test results
  • Procainamide like Pronestyl
  • Local anesthetics like benzocaine and lidocaine
  • Methotrexate
  • Chloramphenicol like Chloromycetin
  • Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)-containing preparations like sunscreens and some multivitamins
  • Sulfonamides (sulfa medicines)
  • Thiazide diuretics (water pills) - Use of these medicines during the test period will affect the test results

Other Interactions

Eating certain types of food while on some medications may cause interactions to occur. Use of alcohol and tobacco too may cause interactions. Discuss with your healthcare provider the use of bentiromide with food, alcohol and tobacco.

Other medication problems

The existence of the following medical conditions may affect the use of bentiromide. Be sure to inform your doctor if you have any of the following medical conditions as they may cause false test results:

  • Kidney disease
  • Infections in the stomach and intestines
  • Liver disease

Bentiromide warnings

  • It is important that you keep your scheduled appointments so that your healthcare provider can closely monitor your condition and make necessary changes regarding dosage or even discontinue the test in an event of serious side effects.
  • Inform your doctor of any side effects you have had to any medications. This is important because this medication may contain ingredients that may cause interactions to occur.
  • Inform your doctor if you are pregnant before taking this test

Bentiromide storage

Store the medication in a cool dry place away from moisture and direct sunlight. All drugs should be stored in the containers they were bought in. Keep all medicines out of children's reach. All unused and expired medication should be disposed of appropriately.


Bentiromide is a diagnostic agent used for testing exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. The screening test can also be done to monitor the efficiency of supplemental pancreatic therapy among other conditions. Administered orally, the pancreas breaks down bentiromide just the same way it breaks down food. After breakdown, part of the agent is passed out of the body with urine. By measuring the levels of bentiromide in the urine, your healthcare provider can tell how well your pancreas is working. Urine samples are taken six hours after taking the medication. This test is repeated after every seven days.

Like other medications, bentiromide does have side effects. Some of these side effects are mild and usually go away as the body adjusts to medication. However, other side effects, like shortness of breath, may require medical attention depending on severity. Consult your healthcare provider about bentiromide side effects and how you can manage them.

Bentiromide is no longer available in the U.S market as it was withdrawn in October 1996.

Last Reviewed:
December 24, 2017
Last Updated:
April 26, 2018