Dornase Alpha

Brand names of dornase alpha

  • Pulmozyme

Dornase alpha is used to treat cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition of the lungs with the dubious distinction of being the most common genetic disease in the western world that can prove fatal. It is a drug for inhalation, not for oral administration or injection.

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For our breathing process to go on smoothly, it is important to keep the air passages moist. Our lungs continually release a fluid for the purpose. However, in cystic fibrosis, water content of this fluid is reduced and it turns into thick mucous. Consequently, it becomes difficult to cough it up or spit it out. Thus, it blocks the air passages leading to difficult breathing and ultimately becomes the site for growth of bacteria causing various types of infections. Due to these infections, the lung tissues are slowly destroyed ultimately leading to death.

The thickened fluid contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in high concentration. Dornase alpha, which is a genetically prepared form of the enzyme deoxyribonuclease or DNAse, breaks down this DNA and makes the mucous more fluid facilitating its easy removal from the air passages and preventing the complications noted above.

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Dornase alpha received FDA's approval in 1993.

Prior to taking dornase alpha let your health care provider know

  • About your drug allergies, including allergy to dornase alpha.
  • About your medical history - all ailments you suffer from or have suffered from in the past.
  • About your pregnancy state - whether you are pregnant now, or will be pregnant shortly. If pregnancy occurs while you are using it, inform your doctor.

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We don't know for certain whether dornase alpha reaches breast milk or not. If you are breast feeding babies, tell your doctor about it and let him decide whether you should continue breast feeding or not.


Dornase alpha is used to ease breathing and prevent lung infections in patients suffering from cystic fibrosis. It is often combined with other medicines, including antibiotics, anti inflammatory medication, bronchodilators and corticosteroids, for proper management of cystic fibrosis.

Dornase alpha does not cure cystic fibrosis. However, used regularly, it makes breathing easier and decreases the possibility of serious infections of the lung. It is a prescription medicine, available only on the advice of your doctor.

How to use dornase alpha

Dornase alpha is inhaled directly into the lungs with a specially designed breathing equipment. Your doctor or the pharmacist will tell you about the proper way of preparing the medication and using the breathing equipment. If anything is unclear, ask them.

Dosage will be based on the severity of your condition and your body's response to the treatment. Don't increase the dose or the frequency decided by your doctor. It will not improve your condition any faster, and will increase the risk of side effects. For optimum benefits, use regularly at about the same time every day.

How dornase alpha works

The main reason for the fluid or mucous in the air passages being so thick in cystic fibrosis affected people, is the large number of DNA present in it. Dornase alpha is a genetically prepared form of the enzyme deoxyribonuclease, or DNAse, that breaks down this DNA and makes the mucous more fluid and less sticky, which is then easily coughed up.

Side effects

Less common

Possible interactions

Other medicaments
Dornase alpha goes well with other medicines that are used in the treatment of cystic fibrosis. No specific medication interactions are documented.
Herbal medicines or minerals
Some herbal products are known to dilute catarrh and help in difficulties of upper respiratory tract. Anise seeds and fennel oil have received German Commission E monograph indication in this regard. However, no studies have been performed to see their interactions with dornase alpha and therefore, they can't be recommended.
Ask your doctor about the use of alcohol during treatment with dornase alpha, and follow his advice.


Dornase alpha's is effective only when used regularly; once use is stopped, benefits too stop. Therefore, its use must go on indefinitely.

Storage instructions

Store dornase alpha ampules that you are using at 36-46° F and protect it from light. Keep the ampules that are not being used in their protective pouches, and store them in the refrigerator above freezing temperature. Don't leave it without refrigeration for more than 24 hours. If an ampule is accidently left out for more than that, don't use it and throw it away. Also throw away the medicine that is outdated or is no longer required.


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