Self-administered pain-killer saves patient time and NHS resources in accident and emergency departments

| Galen | News

Inhaled analgesic can save average patient 71 minutes for some common injuries compared to traditional therapies

Craigavon, N.I., Tuesday 31 March 2020 - An inhaled analgesic recently introduced to the UK can save more than one hour per appropriate procedure in hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments on average – allowing more patients to be seen and potentially saving money for the NHS, a new study reveals.1

The drug, Penthrox▼ (methoxyflurane), has been widely used in Australia and New Zealand for many years, where it has been nicknamed “the Green Whistle” based on its appearance. However, it is used in fewer than half of UK A&E departments mainly due to staff unfamiliarity with the treatment.

Now, researchers from St Mary’s Hospital in London, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, have found the drug, which is self-administered under the supervision of a trained professional, can save 71 minutes on average in treating some A&E patients, compared to usual pain-killing techniques, with the added benefit of saving up to 50% on the cost of treatment per patient depending on the type of trauma injury.1

The results come at a time when the NHS is facing exceptional pressure. They demonstrate how the use of Penthrox as a first-line analgesic for appropriate patients may free up resources including staff and equipment required to treat patients compared with standard treatments.

Over the course of six months, the researchers, supported by A&E Consultant Dr George Bailey, looked at length of stay in A&E for patients with moderate or severe trauma pain who received methoxyflurane compared with those who received standard care.1

There were particular gains for patients suffering from a dislocated shoulder, where methoxyflurane patients saved around three hours in treatment time.1

The study, published today in the journal Advances in Therapy, also looked at costs between the different treatments and concluded that methoxyflurane may save up to 50% on the cost of treatment per patient depending on the type of trauma injury.1 The researchers explained that Penthrox can negate the need for procedural sedation, which requires an intravenous line into the arm, a resus bed, which are often not immediately available, and also requires the time of three staff to carry out the procedure. By contrast, Penthrox could be administered in a chair or on a trolley and only required one or, sometimes two, staff members depending on the procedure, as Penthrox is self-administered by the patient.

The researchers commented “Long waiting times, slow discharge times and overcrowding are affecting almost every emergency department in the UK, and the situation does not show any signs of significant improvement at present.”

They concluded “This evaluation demonstrated that the early use of methoxyflurane can positively impact length of stay within emergency departments and provide effective pain relief for patients.”

Commenting on the findings, Dr George Bailey said: “During our evaluation the use of Penthrox was well received by our staff and patients. Being able to offer early fast acting pain relief is essential and we were pleased to find the additional benefit of reducing time patients spent in A&E compared to standard care.”

Penthrox consists of a green-coloured tube containing a fixed measure of methoxyflurane and can be self-administered by patients. It can provide up to 60 minutes of pain relief per treatment.2 As a single-use product that requires no canisters, additional breathing masks or tubes and is disposed of after patient use via a sealable plastic bag, it greatly minimises the potential of inadvertently spreading infection across a department or between buildings. It is marketed in the UK by the pharmaceutical company Galen.


Notes to editors

About Penthrox▼ (methoxyflurane)
Penthrox (methoxyflurane) is a rapidly-acting inhaled analgesic agent which is self-administered under the supervision of a person trained in its administration.2 It has been proven to rapidly provide effective analgesia3,4 and potentially reduce patient length of stay in hospital settings.1

Methoxyflurane has been used extensively in Australia and New Zealand as emergency analgesia for more than 40 years and is licensed in a number of European countries for the emergency relief of moderate-to-severe pain associated with trauma in conscious adult patients.2

About Galen
Established in 1968, Galen is a privately owned pharmaceutical sales and marketing company, headquartered in Craigavon (Northern Ireland), with products in therapy areas including gastroenterology, pain management and dermatology.

The company plans to continue expanding its portfolio with selected specialty products on an international basis. By combining innovation in product development with competitive pricing, Galen aims to work in partnership with healthcare professionals and patients to create real, long-term value. Visit:

About Almac Group
Galen is a member of the Almac Group. The Almac Group is an established contract development and manufacturing organisation providing an extensive range of integrated services across, and beyond, the drug development lifecycle to the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors globally.

Almac’s innovative services range from R&D, biomarker discovery development and commercialisation, API manufacture, formulation development, clinical trial supply, IRT (IVRS/IWRS) through to commercial-scale manufacture, product development and marketing.

The international company is a privately owned organisation that has grown organically over the past five decades and now employs over 5,600 highly skilled personnel across 18 facilities including Europe, the US and Asia.

Almac has a global reputation for excellence built over 50 years of client service, delivering expertise right across the drug development lifecycle and offering a tailored solution to each of our clients.

For further information please visit


1. Young L, Bailey G, McKinley J. Service evaluation of methoxyflurane versus standard care for overall management of patients with pain due to injury. Adv Ther 2020.
2. Penthrox (methoxyflurane) Inhalation Product Information. December 2018
3. Coffey F, Wright J, Hartshorn S et al. STOP!: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the efficacy and safety of methoxyflurane for the treatment of acute pain. Emerg Med J 2014; 31(8):613–618.
4. Mercadante S, Voza A, Serra S, et al. Analgesic Efficacy, Practicality and Safety of Inhaled Methoxyflurane Versus Standard Analgesic Treatment for Acute Trauma Pain in the Emergency Setting: A Randomised, Open-Label, Active-Controlled, Multicentre Trial in Italy (MEDITA). Adv Ther 2019; 36(11):3030-3046.

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