This is one Aussie-made product you’ll hope you never use

Penthrox is administered in one in every five ambulance journeys in Australia.

The green whistle. You may’ve used it yourself or seen someone else using it, or perhaps you’ve just watched one of the funny YouTube videos featuring injured people a little out of their heads after sucking on it.

But did you know that it’s Australian-made, and our very own CSIRO had a big hand in it? 

The real name for the green pain whistle – the name’s a misnomer because you suck it in, not out like a regular whistle, for those who haven’t had the misfortune to use one – is Penthrox. It’s administered during one in every five ambulance trips in Australia, as well as being a staple treatment on Bondi Rescue, for a couple of reasons: it’s non-addictive, works fast, isn’t a narcotic, and it allows the injured person to control how much pain relief they need. 

CSIRO, Australia’s storied scientific research agency, worked with an Australian company called Medical Developments International to successfully find a new way to make methoxyflurane, which is the main ingredient in Penthrox, that’s quicker and cheaper than previous methods. MDI is the only company in the world making Penthrox and global sales are rapidly rising, which has allowed it to open a bigger factory in Victoria, as well as sign a long-term deal with CSIRO to work on other research.

The increasing use of the green whistle will also most likely contribute to many more entertaining YouTube videos. We won’t paste any into this story as they’re usually NSFW but you can search ‘green whistle’ on to see what we mean! In the meantime, here’s a cool explanation from CSIRO on how it’s helping take an Aussie product to the world.

Have you used the green whistle? Are you proud of Australian companies and agencies making big scientific leaps?

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