Excerpt from NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard-March 23, 2005
Matter of Public Importance
Mr DAVID CAMPBELL (Keira—Minister for Regional Development, Minister for the Illawarra, and Minister for Small Business) [4.31 p.m.]: I ask the House to note as a matter of public importance the outstanding innovation of New South Wales small businesses that work so hard to develop new products and services. Not only do these innovative businesses work hard on new developments, they are also committed to improving existing products and services. Not content to rest on their laurels, these businesses strive to ensure they respond to changing customer demand. I am delighted to inform the House that last night I launched such a product, a revolutionary piece of equipment set to make medical history. In what is believed to be a world first two New South Wales men have worked together to transform a medical device used in Australia more than a million times each year. I am delighted that the New South Wales Government has assisted in the development of what is thought to be the world’s first disposable laryngoscope.
The Yeescope, as it is known, is designed to reduce the risk of diseases being spread between patients. It is the result of more than three years development work by Sydney anaesthetist Dr Kevin Yee and precision toolmaker Mark Bennett. The Yeescope, which is used once before being thrown out, minimises the risk of cross-infection that occurs with multiple use medical equipment, and thus enhances patient safety. Laryngoscopes are used by medical staff to open the airwaves of patients to allow them to breathe during emergency procedures or when under anaesthetic. Traditional laryngoscopes are not fully disposable. They have to be cleaned after each use, which is a difficult and expensive process that, if not done properly, can pose a risk of disease spreading. The potential for infection due to the reuse of medical instruments has grown with the emergence of micro-organisms, including multi-resistant bacteria, HIV, hepatitis and viruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.
Traditional laryngoscopes cost about $250 each, but have to be cleaned thoroughly and sterilised after each use at a cost of between $15 and $25 each time. The Yeescope, which will market for about $30, will mean health care professionals will no longer have to worry about sterilisation processes, laryngoscope maintenance costs or the threat of cross-contamination. Dr Yee and Mr Bennett’s company, Anaesthesia Airways, has signed a joint venture agreement with Sydney company TUTA Healthcare Pty Ltd to manufacture and market the Yeescope worldwide from a production facility at Lane Cove. The Yeescope will be available to the Australian medical community within a month, with export markets in Europe and the United States to be targeted later.
The international market potential for the Yeescope is thought to be hundreds of millions of dollars. This is a great new export for New South Wales, and I am sure honourable members will join me in congratulating Dr Yee, Mr Bennett and TUTA Healthcare Pty Ltd on this exciting new venture. As I said, the Carr Labor Government has helped the development of this exciting product. Our BioBusiness Program has offered support in a number of areas, including legal and financial advice touching on distribution, intellectual property protection, risk management, licensing and accounting.
In 2003-04 more than 80 New South Wales companies received business development advice worth more than $1.4 million from the BioBusiness Program. That advice and guidance included assistance with regulatory approvals, intellectual property protection and business planning. Of the companies receiving this assistance, 98 per cent credited the BioBusiness Program for much of their subsequent success. They believed the program played a significant role in average increases of 22 per cent in employment, 20 per cent in sales and 58 per cent in exports. Medical device manufacture is a multibillion-dollar industry worldwide. In 2003-04 the export of Australian medical equipment totalled $846 billion, with New South Wales’ contribution totalling more than half of that at $450 million, or 53 per cent.
The disposable laryngoscope is the latest in a long line of exciting New South Wales innovations that have come from the small business sector.