We helped Medical Development International move into the European market by creating a new, scalable and reliable manufacturing process for their Penthrox 'green whistle' pain-relieving drug.

The challenge

Delivering pain relief

Medical Developments International (MDI) is an Australian company that manufactures Penthrox, commonly known as the ‘green whistle’.

The pain-relieving drug Penthrox™ (commonly known as the green whistle).

Penthrox is an analgesic used by medical practitioners, the defence forces, ambulance paramedics, sports clubs and surf lifesavers to administer emergency pain relief. It’s non-addictive and simple to administer, making it an excellent choice for situations where fast-acting and uncomplicated relief is needed.

With plans to export overseas, MDI set out to develop a smarter, more cost-effective way to manufacture Penthrox’s pain-relieving ingredient - the drug methoxyflurane.

Our response

Reducing costs and upscaling production

We have been working with MDI for more than 15 years. Having developed the initial production process for Penthrox together, we’ve now vastly improved it.

In a technology deal, we invested $750,000 in order to significantly reduce the cost of producing Penthrox and facilitate large-scale production.

Together, we came up with a smart, efficient manufacturing process that significantly reduces the cost of producing Penthrox's underlying drug, methoxyflurane, and provides more consistent results.

Taking Penthrox to Europe 

[Music plays, CSIRO logo and text appears: ‘Taking Australia’s iconic Penthrox ‘green whistle’ to Europe’]

[Text appears: Medical Developments International]

[Image appears of John Sharman CEO, Medical Developments International]

John Sharman: Medical Developments is a listed public company.  We’ve been listed since 2003. 

[Image changes to show a Penthrox inhaler]

We make and distribute a drug called Penthrox which is our flagship product. 

[Image changes to show John Sharman]

[Images flash through of an ambulance on a busy street, a sports ground, a surf life saving beach and a woman using the Penthrox inhaler]

It is an inhaled analgesic which takes the pain away from people in trauma and we are frontline in ambulance.  We’re used in sports medicine.  We’re used in the surf life saving arena.  We’re used in dental surgeries.

[Image changes to show John Sharman and then zooms in on the Penthrox Inhalers on the shelf behind him]

If someone presents with trauma to a G.P. they’ll be able to use Penthrox. 

[Image changes to show John Sharman]

Approval in Europe for Penthrox really opens up the first global market for us in our history.

[Camera zooms in on the Penthrox Inhaler packs on the shelf behind John Sharman and then zooms out to show John Sharman]

The reality of an approval in Europe and elsewhere in the world means that Penthrox can fit a very significant market need in terms of getting people out of pain, getting them the proper treatment that they need without them having to take a narcotic on board. 

[Image changes to show a worker in the laboratory where Penthrox is made and then the camera zooms in on the worker’s hands]

[Image changes to show John Sharman]

We’ve been making it here for the last 15 years and together with the CSIRO over the last two and half three years we’ve invested almost $2 million on inventing a new way to manufacture Penthrox which will make us competitive on the world stage.

[Image changes to show John Tsanaktsidis CSIRO project leader]

John Tsanaktsidis: So the objective with this new interaction with M.D.I. has been to develop a better process, a process that can deliver a better quality product at a lower cost and a process that can deal with the needs of their growing market opportunity.

[Image changes to show John Sharman]

[Image changes to show the Springvale manufacturing outfit and then the camera zooms in on the machinery and then on two of the workers]

John Sharman: The advantages of the new process that we’ve invented together with the CSIRO are that we, as a manufacturing outfit here in Springvale, can upscale our output by a factor of ten and have very significant cost reductions at the same time. 

[Camera zooms in on the worker’s hands filling plastic tubes]

[Image changes to show John Sharman]

In terms of the size of M.D.I. and our capacity to really improve our entire company we need to partner with the world’s best.

[Image changes to show John Tsanakatsidis walking past shelves full of Penthrox and then the camera zooms in on John Tsanakatsidis]

John Tsanaktsidis: To develop new processes to do R&D is costly and time consuming and small companies typically don’t have that resource, don’t have that flexibility.  CSIRO, with all its’ capability with all its’ resource and expertise, can work closely with small companies to devise specific solutions for problems that are important for those companies business models.

[Image changes to show John Sharman]

John Sharman: And without the CSIRO we wouldn’t be in the position today where we can have this really groundbreaking manufacturing process which allows us to go global.  We have had some of the world’s best minds brought to us by the CSIRO all participating in the development of this new programme and we hope that that partnership will continue into the future.

[Image changes to show a Penthrox Inhaler Pack]

 [CSIRO Australia Logo appears on the screen with text: ‘Big ideas start here, www.csiro.au’]

Taking Australia's iconic Penthrox 'green whistle' to Europe

The results

Reaching new markets

Penthrox has now been approved for sale in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, France and Belgium. It’s expected to enter other European markets such as Germany, Spain and Italy over the next year.

Collaboration with CSIRO has strengthened MDI’s position as the only global manufacturer of methoxyflurane and their plans to take the product to the rest of the world.

A new manufacturing facility employing CSIRO’s process is expected to begin operation next year and will be capable of producing up to 25 million units a year.

Do business with us to help your organisation thrive

We partner with small and large companies, government and industry in Australia and around the world.

Contact us

Have a question? Contact us using the form below, or call 1300 363 400 during business hours, .

Your contact details

First name must be filled in

Your enquiry*

We'll need to know what you want to contact us about so we can give you an answer.

Please tell us how you heard about CSIRO