“Curosurf treated premature babies in more than 80 countries – perhaps Curosurf saved life of 12 to 15% of prematurely born babies – you can calculate we saved lives of at least half a million babies.” Curosurf co-inventor, Dr. Tore Curstedt:
– How many babies did your drug help to save and to improve their outcomes to date? What is your estimate?
– It’s very difficult to say, but perhaps nearly four million babies we have treated.
– You treated nearly four million prematurely born babies —
– In 80 countries, in more than 80 countries premature babies have been treated with it. But you can’t calculate that in 30 – 40% of those babies we have saved a life. But perhaps Curosurf saved life of 12 to 15% of prematurely born babies. In that case, you can calculate we saved lives of at least half a million babies. Probably more than half a million.
– Half a million babies are alive because of the drug you invented, and the drug that was refused to be developed initially by your own alma mater hospital and home institution and pharmaceutical company in your own, the same, country — Yes, yes.
– This is an amazing story. Maybe the question becomes, how do you overcome skepticism in your life?
– I have overcome because we were very lucky in the case of Chiesi Farmaceutici. There have supported us all the time. The first agreement we had with Chiesi we signed in December 1987, and from that time we had an agreement both regarding making surfactant from pig lungs, the Curosurf. You perhaps know where Curosurf name is coming. The name is coming from my name CU, and Robertson, RO, Curosurf. And also it is synthetic surfactant. They supported us all the time. And I think it works much better, so I am very happy with what happened today.
– But personally, over decades, you worked on this drug so far. You saw the baby turn from blue and dying baby to the essentially healthy pink baby, and you’re encountering all this skepticism and resistance. How did you deal with that personally? What helped you?
– Because I thought we had a good product. We had done much research. Even at that time, what the components of the surfactant was not only the phospholipid and also this two proteins in the surfactant. We worked very hard with the components of the surfactant at that time. But I think the skepticism, that was in the 1980s, in the late 80s, but often, when we got in contact with Chiesi, and after a couple of years or so, that led to a success with Chiesi, I had no skeptics at that time. But in the beginning, of course. And we had many countries. In the first clinical trial, I think it was 11 sites for the first clinical trial. But in a couple of years that increased to 50, 60, 70 sites. It was no need in the beginning to have Karolinska at that time. We had so many sites in Europe.
– You could do it without, so that’s what–
– We could do it very big. We got results, we could do it without Karolinska.
– So what helped you to overcome, as I hear, is being sure that your data is very strong and seeing amazing results and a lot of collaborators coming on board.
– Yes, collaborators all the time were coming more and more and more.