If you’ve ever had a painful injury, you’re probably familiar with Penthrox – that sweet green whistle the medics gave you which, after a few tokes, turned your agonising pain into a mild tickle. Now this little Aussie invention is about to go global.
Penthrox is currently sold in 11 countries, but has recently been granted initial regulatory approval to be sold in the UK and Europe, in a huge boost for Medical Developments International (MDI), the Melbourne-based company that manufactures and markets the fruity-flavoured pain reliever.
“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,” said MDI CEO John Sharman.
“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.
Penthrox has been available in Australia for over 30 years now, with over 5 million units sold. As demand increased, MDI needed to ramp up production, so they formed a partnership with the CSIRO around 15 years ago to assist in improving their processes.
The CSIRO rolled $750,000 into the production of Penthrox, and the result has been a ten-fold increase in the production of methoxyflurane.
“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,” said Sharman.
The Penthrox inhaler uses methoxyflurane as the primary pain-relieving ingredient. The main advantage of using methoxyflurane as an analgesic is that it in low doses it is safe enough for patients to self-administer, but still effective in solving pain issues – MDI say “Pain relief should start after 6-10 breaths.”
Furthermore, methoxyflurane is non-addictive and non-narcotic, the latter meaning that rather than going to work on the central nervous system to battle pain (as a narcotic would), methoxyflurane affects the chemical changes taking place at the site of injury.
However, whereas a swift dose of morphine tends to sort out any pain issues for a fairly extended period of time, Penthrox is very much a stop-gap until you can get to hospital. One green whistle should tide you over for 20 to 25 minutes being used continuously (intermittent inhaling will extend its use). A second whistle can then be administered, providing an estimated 50 to 55 minutes relief total, but that’s where the line needs to be drawn.
A single whistle contains 3mL, and 6 mL is the daily dosage limit. Furthermore, it is not recommended to take more than 15mL per week, nor to get on the whistles on consecutive days (although you’d have to be having a pretty bad week to require five Penthrox bottles in a week, or even one the day after your accident).