CSIRO partnered with Medical Developments International to help it meet the growing demand for Penthrox in domestic and international markets.

The challenge

Meeting a growing demand for the 'green whistle'

After its public listing in 2004, Medical Developments International (MDI) grew steadily and so did its production of Penthrox®, commonly known as the 'green whistle'. Penthrox is used by medical practitioners, the defence forces, ambulance and surf lifesaving services to administer emergency pain relief.

Image of the Penthrox 'green whistle' being held by two hands.

By 2010 the company was operating at close to its maximum manufacturing capacity. Penthrox improved the wellbeing of many thousands of people with trauma injuries every year. Further expanding MDI's existing manufacturing process was not a cost-effective option. A new approach to manufacturing the product was required. However, MDI did not have the financial resources or technical capability to undertake such a risky research & development (R&D) project on its own.

Our response

A scalable, reliable and low-cost solution

CSIRO possesses world-leading expertise in advanced manufacturing processes. In 2012, MDI engaged CSIRO to develop a manufacturing solution for the production of the drug methoxyflurane, the pain-relieving ingredient in Penthrox.

The broad experience of CSIRO researchers in delivering results for industrial clients allowed them to quickly understand MDI's needs, to offer solutions that were implementable within time and budget constraints, and to understand the importance of working with MDI on-site.

In partnership with MDI, CSIRO developed a concept for an improved processing technology. CSIRO developed the processing technology in-house over a 12 month period and engaged MDI, via an Australian Growth Partnership (AGP) program. The goal of this collaborative technology transfer project was to commission a scalable, reliable, and low-cost manufacturing solution for the production of methoxyflurane. The technology transfer was successfully completed in 2015.

The results

Poised for export success

The impact

CSIRO was able to provide critical assistance to support MDI's growth ambitions. The long standing collaboration between CSIRO and MDI has helped the firm to develop and expand its own production of an important treatment for patients suffering from painful injuries.

As a result MDI has increased its sales in the Australian market and is now poised to become a major exporter. The growth in MDI's sales of Penthrox will generate considerable additional revenue for MDI and royalty payments to CSIRO. A recent economic assessment estimates that the net present value (NPV) of CSIRO's impact to 2030 will range from $168.8 million to $270.6 million1.

Download Printable version: Accelerating Australia's healthcare into competitive global markets

Download the impact evaluation report:

  1. ACIL Allen Consulting, 2016. Medical Developments Australia – An Independent Assessment. ACIL Allen Consulting, Canberra.

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