Development-stage biotechnology company Discovery Laboratories Inc. said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter loss narrowed on lower general costs and development expenses for the drug candidate Surfaxin.

The company recorded a loss of $6.1 million, or 5 cents per share, compared with a loss of $8.5 million, or 8 cents per share, in the year-ago period. There was no reported revenue in either period.

Operating expenses fell 29 percent to $5.9 million

The Food and Drug Administration has been reviewing Surfaxin since 2006 as a potential respiratory stress syndrome treatment. The process has stalled over concerns about the test used to determine Surfaxin's shelf life, as well as manufacturing issues.

In February, the company said it won't have to run new clinical trials on the drug and will focus on testing the drug on prematurely born lambs instead of premature infants. The preclinical work is meant to address FDA concerns over chemistry and manufacturing issues. It said a complete response to the FDA is possible in the first quarter of 2011.

For the full year, the company lost $30.2 million, or 26 cents per share, compared with a loss of $39.1 million, or 40 cents per share, in 2008. The company reported no revenue in 2009, compared with $4.6 million in 2008 from partnerships and grants.

Discovery Labs shares fell 2 cents, or 3.6 percent, to 54 cents in afternoon trading.