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8 May 2015 News Release

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,’]

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Australian healthcare company Medical Developments International (MDI) will use a new low-cost manufacturing process developed with CSIRO to increase their production of Penthrox's underlying drug methoxyflurane by ten-fold in order to meet this large-scale demand.  

Penthrox is made in Melbourne and has significant advantages over other analgesics such as nitrous oxide and morphine in that it is rapid, self-administered, non-addictive, non-narcotic, safe to use and provides strong pain relief.

MDI's CEO John Sharman believes that regulatory approval to sell the product in England, France, Ireland and Belgium is a company-making achievement that has opened the door to supplying it globally.

"Hospitals, ambulances, defence forces, national sporting leagues, life savers and other emergency services have been using 'the green whistle' in Australia for more than 30 years," Mr Sharman said.

"We believe that Penthrox offers an effective alternative to established products already used in Europe and expanding into this market has substantially increased our business overnight.

"Our partnership with CSIRO has been integral to up-scaling our production capacity ahead of this opportunity. Together, we've come up with a new, smarter process to manufacture Penthrox." 

CSIRO and MDI have been working together for more than 15 years, having developed the initial production process together, to now vastly improving it. The technology will secure their market position as the only global manufacturer of methoxyflurane.

"It's through long-term research collaborations that we can help forward-thinking businesses like MDI jump on new opportunities and remain globally competitive," CSIRO's biomedical research program director Dr Paul Savage said.

"Our goal is to develop new or improved high value products and smarter, more efficient processes that establish local companies as world leaders in their respective markets."

CSIRO invested $750,000 in MDI’s technology development through its Australian Growth Partnership (AGP) program, which awards innovative Australian small and medium businesses with access to the organisation’s world-class research and facilities to significantly grow their business.

Penthrox is sold in 11 countries around the world with regulatory applications pending approval in another 13 countries.

Every year, CSIRO works with more than 1000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and over 100 biomedical companies.


Penthrox has been approved for sale in Europe, meeting a significant market need for a non-narcotic emergency analgesic.
The new manufacturing process substantially reduces the cost to produce Penthrox’s key ingredient, the drug methoxyflurane.
CSIRO’s John Tsanaktsidis worked with MDI to help them upscale production of Penthrox and enter new export markets.

Background information

About Penthrox

Penthrox is a fast onset, non-opioid analgesic indicated for pain relief by self-administration in patients with trauma and those requiring analgesia for surgical procedures. Penthrox has been used safely and effectively for more than 30 years in Australia with excess of five million units sold. There is growing interest in Penthrox being used in patients undergoing investigatory procedures, as well as operational procedures such as colonoscopy.

About Medical Developments International

MDI is an Australian company delivering emergency medical solutions dedicated to improving patient outcomes. MDI is a leader in emergency pain relief and respiratory products. The Company manufactures Penthrox, a fast acting minor trauma and emergency pain relief product. It is used in Australian hospitals including emergency departments, Australian ambulance services, the Australian Defence Forces, sports medicine and for analgesia during short surgical procedures such as dental and cosmetic surgery as well as in other medical applications. MDI is expanding internationally and manufactures a range of world-leading asthma respiratory devices.

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