Victoria’s Medical Development International and CSIRO collaboration – green whistle upscaling

Smart partnerships are ensuring that innovative Victorian medtech now extends to over 39 international markets.

Victorian innovation and a strategic partnership between Melbourne-based Medical Development International (MDI) and CSIRO mean that a leading, world-recognised medical product is now more accessible and competitive on a global scale.

Smarter manufacturing

Medical Development International (MDI) is a Victorian company which manufactures Penthrox, commonly referred to as ‘Green Whistle’. CSIRO have worked closely with MDI to create a cheaper, more reliable manufacturing process for the pain-relieving drug.

Penthrox is a fast-acting, non-addictive analgesic widely administered to provide short-term, relief for trauma injuries. It can be self-administered by patients through the green, whistle-shaped inhaler that gives it its nickname.

In Australia, Penthrox has been widely used for over 20 years and is administered to children and adults by sports clubs, surf lifesavers, paramedics or hospital staff for trauma, dentistry, cosmetic procedures, biopsies or even wound dressing.

Its non-addictive nature coupled with ease of administration makes Penthrox an excellent choice in emergency situations where immediate pain relief is required.

With plans to expand into international markets, MDI needed to find a cheaper, scalable and reliable way of manufacturing methoxyflurane, the expensive active ingredient in Penthrox. That is where another example of a smart, Victorian based partnership comes in.

High quality, low-cost product

John Sharman has been CEO of MDI since 2010 and over this time has been working with the CSIRO to meet those manufacturing needs.

“It will make us competitive with every other analgesic on the planet. We’re still being used even though we were perceived as expensive; moving forward we’ll be able to make the world market and compete on price,” Dr Sharman explains.

“We are the highest quality, lowest cost manufacturer and will enjoy that position for many years to come as a result of this technology.”

Expanding international markets

Penthrox is already used in many international markets. Although it has far-reaching applications, such as the ones used extensively in Australia, many of these have yet to be fully explored in other markets.

With improved manufacturing processes, production can be up-scaled and the product fully realised in these international markets.

Following on from their strategic partnership with CSIRO to improved the manufacturing project, MDIhas formed new strategic partnerships in order to reach these markets. In the UK and Ireland, Galen Pharma received approval for the sale of Penthrox and Mundipharma and has an exclusive product rights for Penthrox in 39 European markets, including France, Germany, Spain and Italy initially.

Penthrox has received regulatory approval in the United Arab Emirates and will be used in many of the major public and private hospitals as well as the ambulance service, while an exclusive distribution and licensing agreement has also just been reached with Purdue Pharma, Canada.

Poised to compete in these global markets, John Sharman reflects on the innovation that all started many years ago in Melbourne:

“It is quite unbelievable that a little company whose origins are out of Springvale (a suburb of Melbourne half and hour from the city centre) can develop a regulatory dossier capable of getting a product approved globally, and then to develop such cutting edge technology that it now has global applications.”