Victorian medical emergency company Medical Developments International emerges as global leader

A Victorian emergency medicine company has risen to become a global leader, thanks to its range of respiratory medications. Offering new devices for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Medical Developments International (MDI), is turning its attention to next-level medical emergency products through its innovated ‘green whistle’ for non-opioid pain relief.

Medical Developments International (MDI) has already entered most major global markets with its respiratory medical devices.

Now it is on the same track with its Penthrox pain relief device, which is currently seeking FDA approval in the United States of America.

MDI chief executive John Sharman said the company had doubled in size in the last 18 months, and is expected to do so again in the near future.

“We’re expecting great things in terms of sales growth from out respiratory devices globally, but in particular in the next 12-18 months out of the US,” he said. “We’re targeting A$20 million in sales by 2020.”

Selling the ‘green whistle’ to the world

Penthrox is a revolutionary Australian invention, treating acute pain without the need for dangerous opioids like morphine.

It is delivered through an inhaler—the highly recognisable ‘Green Whistle’. AFL league fans famously saw the device in action earlier this year when Gold Coast Suns’ midfielder Michael Barlow was wheeled off the field using Penthrox after breaking his leg for the second time in his career.

“It’s a fast-acting, powerful, non-narcotic inhaled analgesic that will take you from your worst pain imaginable to a pain-free state,” Sharman said.

“It will last two hours, it doesn’t affect vital signs and you don’t suffer respiratory depression.”

“So it is an exceptional alternative to prescribing morphine (which is essentially Heroin), or Fentanyl … which are all dangerous narcotics,” Sharman said.

Other benefits include it’s non-addictive qualities, and it doesn’t have drug-to-drug interactions. Penthrox has minimal waiting time of 3 minutes before a painful procedure can be performed. It can be self-administered, is portable and easy to use.

“We’ve put about A$15 million into a regulatory dossier, which is essentially the regulatory piece that you need to get other countries to support the sale of your product in pharmaceuticals,” Sharman said.

“We expect to have approval to sell the Green Whistle in another 25 countries over the next 12 months.”

That includes cracking the important US market, where Sharman said early indications were looking positive.

“We’re using the regulatory dossier to convince the FDA that Penthrox has a safety profile that is second to none, and that has a significant benefit to the patient population in the US…it’s going very well,” he said.

Global leaders in respiratory devices

MDI has been marketing these devices since 2011, using its patented Cross Valve Technology to deliver the medication with low resistance on inhale and exhale, maximising the benefits.

This has culminated in FDA approval in the US for the Anti Static Space Chamber range of devices to be sold in 10,000 major outlets across America.

“We have deals with Walmart, Kmart, Costco, Independent Pharmacy Cooperative, Shoppers Drug Mart (in Canada),” Sharman said.

Already, MDI has an established distribution network for the devices in 20 countries including: the US, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the UAE, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia.

The future of MDI

The success of the respiratory devices and Penthrox has allowed MDI to invest heavily back into its research and development division.

The company is currently working on developing a raft of new products, including; anti-static spacers, a world first anti-static mask and a collapsible spacer—with two new products expected to be launched this year.

“We’re continuously searching for new ideas in the delivery of asthma and COPD medication,” Sharman said. “We have a collapsible spacer which is to be launched in the next couple of weeks, so that is very exciting for us.

And Sharman said the Victorian Government had been helpful in assisting MDI reach the summit of emergency medical devices.

“We did get some assistance from a grant from the Victorian Government to build our new manufacturing site, which really future proofs the business going forward, in terms of the manufacture of Penthrox,” he said.