Ego Pharmaceuticals has developed a head lice treatment, using Australian essential oils, to combat the frustrating problem of resistance to conventional synthetic products.
An AusIndustry innovation grant of $1,420,349 was awarded to Ego to develop new pharmaceutical product ranges based on active compounds derived from Australian plant oils.
Ego used the funds to develop the MOOV head lice range, as well as a range of insect repellants.
The MOOV head lice project involved extensive university-based clinical trials and in vitro testing to an international standard.
The final product gained full registration with the Australian Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Scientific Director, Dr Jane Oppenheim, says gaining TGA registration means MOOV Head Lice Solution should be the brand of choice for the medical profession, school nurses and pharmacists.
"International standard clinical trials conducted on the solution have shown that it is more than twice as effective as two other leading treatments registered with the TGA.
"The clinical trials, conducted with the University of Queensland, involved more than 200 children, but in the course of MOOV’s development we’ve tested it on approximately 500."
Jane says conventional head lice treatments commonly contain malathion and the pyrethroids family of chemicals. But, over time, head lice have developed resistance to these chemicals.
Head lice is the third most commonly reported outbreak in day-care centres. Infestation rates of up to 35 per cent have been reported in schools.
"For many years, parents have been frustrated by using ineffective, toxic-smelling treatments," Jane said.
"A lot of the time, many have resorted to combing out head lice, which can be painful, time consuming and at best 50 per cent effective, according to published literature."
MOOV Head Lice Solution contains eucalyptus oil as the active ingredient. The solution works by intoxicating head lice. It is applied three times over a fortnight to ensure all head lice and eggs in the life cycle are killed.
Due to the inherently volatile nature of eucalyptus oil, it doesn’t remain for long in the hair once the treatment is rinsed out. This means lice are less likely to be able to develop a resistance to the product.
"MOOV Head Lice Solution is now about equal to two market leaders, in a market worth $10 million a year," Jane said.
From associated research, Ego has also launched a range of insect repellents based on Australian essential oils. The patented range contains the active ingredient melaleuca oil.
Jane says research and development is a fundamental aspect of Ego, ensuring it is able to stay ahead of its competition.
"We are constantly looking at new ideas to ensure our products are state-of-the-art, and we are also looking at existing products and how they can be improved."
About 10 per cent of Ego’s staff members are dedicated to research and development.
Research at Ego is also suported by the Australian Government’s R&D Tax Concession.
Commercial Ready is an innovation grant program delivered by AusIndustry that provides up to
$200 million to Australian businesses each year.
The program provides grants ranging from $50,000 to $5 million to small and medium-sized businesses planning to do research and development, proof-of-concept and early-stage commercialisation activities.
Companies can apply for up to 50 per cent of project costs to develop their new product, process or service. Funds are limited, and successful projects are selected on their overall merit.
AusIndustry is the business program delivery
division of the Department of Industry, Tourism
and Resources. It delivers a range of more than
30 products, worth nearly $2 billion a year, to
about 10,000 large and small businesses.
AusIndustry products include innovation grants, tax and duty concessions, small business services, support for industry competitiveness, venture capital and tourism grants.
Visit www.ausindustry.gov.au, call 13 28 46 or email email@example.com, for more information.
At a glance
Ego Pharmaceutical’s average annual compound growth since the 1980s is 16.5 per cent, driven by innovative products like MOOV.
The company is also investing heavily to increase its production capacity. It spent $13 million between 2005-07 to expand its Braeside premises in Victoria. The included adding new laboratories, doubling the size of its cleanroom packing hall, and installing $3 million of production equipment.
The company was formed more than 50 years ago by the parents of current managing director, Alan Oppenheim. Alan’s wife, Jane, is the company’s scientific director.
Ego products include QV, Pinetarsol, DermAid and SUNSENSE, all market leaders in Australian pharmacies.
2005 — Australian Self-Medication Industry award for Excellent Service to the Industry.
2006 — Southern Region Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for retail, consumer and industrial products (to Alan Oppenheim).
2006 — Commendee for the Large Advanced Manufacturer Award in the Governor of Victoria Export Awards. Exports grew 41 per cent in 2005-06.