FDA Approves New Drug For Premature Babies

Surfaxin to prevent breathing disorder in premature infants

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Natasha Levin

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Surfaxin (lucinactant) for the prevention of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), a breathing disorder that affects premature infants.

The lungs of premature infants are not able to make enough surfactant, a liquid that coats the inside of the lungs and helps to keep them open. Without enough surfactant, the lungs collapse and the infant has difficulty breathing. Most babies who develop RDS show signs of breathing problems and a lack of oxygen at birth or within the first few hours after birth.

Surfaxin is the fifth drug approved in the United States to treat RDS in premature infants. The other FDA-approved surfactants include Survanta (beractant), Curosurf (poractant alpha), Infasurf (calfactant), and Exosurf (colfosceril palmitate), which is no longer marketed.

A single randomized, active-controlled, multi-dose study involving 1,294 premature infants demonstrated the safety and efficacy of Surfaxin. Within 30 minutes of birth, infants in the study received either Surfaxin, Exosurf or Survanta. Surfaxin and Exosurf served as the primary comparison for this study;

Survanta served as another comparison. Surfaxin demonstrated significant improvement in both RDS at 24 hours after birth and RDS-related mortality through two weeks, when compared with Exosurf. The most common side effects of Surfaxin are related to its administration down a premature infant’s breathing tube (endotracheal tube) and include endotracheal tube reflux, skin paleness, endotracheal tube obstruction, and need for dose interruption.

Surfaxin is manufactured by Discovery Laboratories Inc. of Warrington, Pa.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 22, 2012
Last Updated:
August 13, 2012