In Cuba, the drug Surfacen reduced infant mortality due to respiratory distress syndrome in newborns to 0.2 per thousand live births in 2012.
In 1994, the mortality was 0.8 per thousand live births, according to a Cuban newspaper article, Prensa Latina reported.
Developed by specialists of the National Centre for Agricultural Health, the drug addresses the deficiency of pulmonary endogenous surfactant that is critical to maintaining lung inflation and promotes respiration, said Elaine Diaz, head of the research team.
Respiratory distress syndrome often occurs in premature infants and is usually a major cause of their deaths.
Using Surfacen decreases the requirement of artificial ventilation and encourages rapid improvement of the oxygen level in the blood, the doctor said.
The product obtained sanitary registration in 1995 and used in all neonatal intensive care units of the country as a part of maternal and child care programme of the ministry of public health.
In addition to saving the lives of many Cuban children, this drug also has a significant economic impact as it reduced imports of such medicines.
The product received a gold medal from the World Intellectual Property Organisation in 2007. It also won the annual health prize for technological innovation in 2006.