GENERIC NAME: dornase alpha
BRAND NAME: Pulmozyme
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Dornase alpha is an inhaled drug for treating cystic fibrosis, a lung disease which is the most common fatal genetic disease in developed countries. The lungs continually secrete fluid into the airways to keep them moist. In cystic fibrosis, the fluid becomes thick because the amount of water it contains is reduced. The thickened fluid is difficult to cough up or spit out. It blocks the airways, making breathing difficult and promoting the growth of bacteria and infection. Infection destroys the tissues of the lungs, and it is the slowly progressive destruction of the lungs that is the major cause of disability and death in children with cystic fibrosis. The thick fluid contains high concentrations of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Dornase alpha is a genetically engineered form of the human enzyme, deoxyribonuclease or DNAse. Dornase alpha breaks down the DNA and thereby reduces the thickness of the fluids. Dornase alpha was approved by the FDA in 1993.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Dornase alpha is used in the long-term management of patients with cystic fibrosis. Patients who received dornase alpha have been shown to have improved function of the lung, improved quality of life, and a reduction in the need for antibiotics (because of fewer infections of the lungs).
SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects of dornase alpha include:
- voice alteration,
- sore throat,
- chest pain,
- red eyes,
- nasal congestion,
- shortness of breath,
- stomach upset,
- and fever.
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