Curosurf (Poractant alfa)

How does it work?

Curosurf suspension contains the active ingredient poractant alfa, which is a natural lung (pulmonary) surfactant that is obtained from the lungs of pigs. Surfactants are wetting agents that coat the surface of the air sacs (alveoli) and reduce surface tension in the lungs. This helps the air sacs to inflate and expand during breathing and stops them sticking together.

Surfactants are normally produced naturally in the lungs. However, some babies, particularly premature babies, don't have enough surfactant in their lungs when they are born. This can result in a life-threatening disorder known as respiratory distress syndrome, where the lungs become stiff and uninflatable and breathing is extremely difficult. This commonly occurs in premature babies, because their under-developed lungs are not yet able to produce surfactants.

Poractant alfa is given directly into the lungs through a tube (endotracheal administration) to temporarily replace the natural surfactant. This helps premature babies to breath while their lungs are developing enough to produce their own surfactant.

What is it used for?

  • Prevention and treatment of a condition called respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) in newborn or premature babies. In this condition the lungs are unable to expand sufficiently and become stiff, resulting in rapid, shallow and laboured breathing.

How is this treatment given?

  • Curosurf will only be administered by specialists in neonatal medicine.
  • The doctor or nurse will give the medicine to the baby in the incubator. The medicine is stored in the fridge so they will first warm it to room temperature. They then draw the liquid into a syringe and adminster this through the tube that goes into the baby's windpipe. This takes it into the lungs. They may disconnect the baby from the ventilator while they do this.
  • Your baby may be given a second dose after 12 hours and if necessary, a third dose after a further 12 hours.
  • The staff in the neonatal unit will continuously monitor the baby's heart rate and oxygen levels while they are being treated.

Side effects

Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all babies having this medicine will experience that or any side effect.

Some of these are also potential problems for all premature babies. The staff in the neonatal intensive care unit are specially trained to help recognise and treat these problems as best as they can.

Uncommon (affect between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000 babies)

  • Infection of the blood (sepsis).
  • Bleeding in the brain.
  • Air becoming trapped between the lungs and the chest wall (pneumothorax).

Rare (affect between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 10,000 babies)

  • Low blood pressure.
  • Slow heart rate.
  • Decreased level of oxygen in the body.
  • Bleeding in the lungs.

Unknown frequency

  • Increased level of oxygen in the body.
  • Stopping of breathing.
  • Blue colour of skin due to low oxygen levels (cyanosis).
  • Abnormal reading of brain activity (electroencephalogram or EEG).

The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.

For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.

How can this medicine affect other medicines?

This medicine is not known to affect other medicines.

Other medicines containing the same active ingredient

There are currently no other medicines available in the UK that contain poractant alfa as the active ingredient.