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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 needed a smarter, more efficient and cost-effective way to manufacture Methoxyflurane.

Our response

Reducing costs and upscaling production

We have been working with MDI for more than 18 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 Methoxyflurane while providing a more consistent result.

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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The results

Reaching new markets

MDI's market value has risen from less than $10 million dollars in March 2010 to around $517 million today.

Collaboration with CSIRO has given MDI the capacity to enter new export markets and confidence their supply can match demand.

Penthrox has now been approved for sale in 27 European countries plus the UAE, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Taiwan and Mexico. MDI has regulatory approval in Canada. The product approval process is also underway in the USA Iran, Iraq, South Korea and Russia.

New production facility

[Music plays and CSIRO logo appears and then images flash through of empty bottles moving, a female in a lab and bottles moving through a machine on a conveyer belt]


Narrator: CSIRO have been a fantastic resource for MDI. 


[Image shows the bottles being removed from the conveyer belt and then the camera zooms out to show the bottles moving around in a filling machine and then the image changes to show a female looking at a computer screen]


Being a small company we don’t often have the ability to invest in a lot of research and development. 


[Image changes to show the bottles being picked up off the conveyer belt and stacked in a plastic container and then the image changes to show the capped bottles moving over a rolling conveyer belt and then being labelled]


There’s a lot of resources, a lot of equipment that would have to be brought into the four walls here at MDI to be able to support such a large research programme. 


[Image changes to show the labelled bottles being inspected and then the image changes to show the narrator talking to the camera in front of Penthrox boxes stacked on shelves]


Penthrox is an analgesic.  It’s a fast onsetting pain reliver.  It’s been used significantly in the ambulance services in Australia for many years for treating traumatic pain. 


[Image changes to show a Penthrox bottle being opened and poured into an inhaler, the inhaler being rubbed between the hands and then the Penthrox being inhaled]


It’s not administered through IV.  It’s a non-opiate, so it’s a non-narcotic.  It doesn’t have any side effects with regards to ability to be abused.  


[Music plays and images move through of Penthrox bottles on a rolling conveyer belt]


We’ve recently sold into the UK


[Camera zooms out to show the machine the bottles are moving through and then the camera zooms in on the bottles dropping off the rolling conveyer belt]


and we’ve also… looking at selling into parts of Europe, particular two countries are France and Belgium. 


[Camera zooms out to show the Penthrox bottles moving along a rolling conveyer belt, down a chute and into a plastic box and the camera zooms in on the bottles in the box]


They’re recent markets.  We’re looking to open up into 22 other countries in the next 12 months.


[Image changes to show empty bottles being funnelled into a conveyer belt and then the camera zooms in on the empty bottles]


With the international markets coming on board we had to look at options to be able to support that increased capacity


[Image changes to show the outside of a building and then the camera zooms in on a sign: Medical Developments International]


and Scoresby was a site that we looked at very quickly. 


[Music plays and image changes to show the narrator talking to the camera]


Scoresby allows us to design a purpose built facility for not only the current process but also for the new manufacturing process which we’ve designed with collaboration with the CSIRO


[Image changes to show a sign “Caribbean Park” outside a building and then the image changes to show the inside of the building and the camera pans around the room]


and it also… I guess the footprint is a huge bonus for us as well.  


[Camera zooms in on a piece of stainless steel machinery in the room and the camera pans up the machinery]


So, this new facility has been built to not only house the current requirements but then the projected requirements for five or ten years going forward. 


[Music plays and the image changes to show the Penthrox manufacturing process and then the camera zooms in on the bottles being filled and capped]


The new process allows us to do it a lot safer. 


[Camera zooms out to show the whole process again and then the camera zooms in on bottles being filled one after the other]


It reduces the risk and provides, I think, a quick turnaround. 


[Music plays and the camera zooms out to show the bottles moving through the process and then the image changes to show two packaged Penthrox bottles]


We have seen significant increases in product yield. 


[Camera zooms out to show a range of Penthrox products]


Also, the product can be scaled quite simply and easily


[Image changes to show a female opening a Penthrox inhaler package and filling the inhaler from a Penthrox bottle, and then rubbing the inhaler between her hands]


without the investment in large equipment. 


[Image changes to show a laboratory worker placing a Penthrox bottle in a vice like machine on a bench and then placing a cap on the bottle]


The CSIRO has been in the story of Penthrox since 1999. 


[Image changes to show the female removing the bottle and making notes and then the image changes to show the narrator talking to the camera]


During that time they’ve assisted us with many other requirements from an R and D perspective.  The support is always there and also, I think having the CSIRO from the early stages of the development of the original process here in Australia,


[Image changes to show a bottle being filled with a syringe and then the camera zooms out to show the male holding the bottle]


they have that familiarity.  They know where we are going. 


[Image changes to show the narrator talking to the camera]


They are an extension to our own R and D Department.  They really do feel like they’re part of the family.


[CSIRO logo and text appears: Australia’s innovation catalyst]


We’re helping Australian healthcare company Medical Developments International (MDI) meet global demand for their Penthrox green whistle.

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MDI built a new Melbourne facility to cope with global demand for Penthrox.

It's specifically designed around the CSIRO manufacturing process and allows MDI to increase production as exports grow.

Twenty-six new jobs have already been created and MDI's workforce is expected to double in coming years.

The new facility takes in more than 1000 square metres of processing machinery, bottling, labelling and assembly, as well as research and development labs.

There's also plenty of room left to grow as MDI does.

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