Meeting the profession’s needs once again

Meeting the profession’s needs once again

26 Jan 2011

On October 22 2010, Dentsply held a press conference on the re-release of its local dental anaesthetic, Citanest 3% with Octapressin dental. 

The Citanest story began in 2000 when Dentsply acquired the licence to produce it from the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Gerry said, “We bought the Citanest and Xylocaine dental anaesthetic business from AstraZeneca back in January 2001. Prior to this, we weren’t in the anaesthetic market. Once we acquired the licence, we then went through the various stages of switching the supply from AstraZeneca to Dentsply. 

“AstraZeneca already had an existing business in the UK selling dental anaesthetics and, at that time, about 50 per cent of the market was supplied by them, so, as a result, we took on that part of the market.”

Supply outpaced by demand

Gerry explained, “The UK anaesthetics market is almost unique in that 2.2ml cartridges are sold as opposed to the 1.8ml cartridges supplied to most of the rest of the world, – except from Australia and some of the other ex-commonwealth countries.”

Dentsply was said to quickly establish the product as a market leader, but when manufacturing was moved to a new site, supply was rapidly outpaced by demand. 

“Dentsply set up a manufacturing plant in the US, Chicago, but we had to close that plant in 2006 because of issues with getting the plant up and running. We then moved production to a European facility, but we then had some problems with supply,” Gerry told The Probe.

“In late 2005, we could no longer supply the market with 2.2ml cartridges because most of the equipment for manufacturing dental anaesthetics was set up for 1.8ml.

“We had to go back to selling 1.8ml Citanest sporadically for nearly five years. We even obtained permission to import Swedish packaged Citanest to assist in the demand for the product. 

“The customers were very loyal, they liked Citanest, but they couldn’t get it in the cartridge size they wanted and availability was sporadic, so we can understand why customers were upset by this.

 “So, we’ve been working since February 2006 to get supplies back up and running for 2.2ml cartridges, this meant that we had to validate a new manufacturing process, which takes a long time to do. We finally got this sorted out in January 2010, but, we kept quite quiet about it because we didn’t want to over promise, but then under deliver, so we’ve slowly and very quietly launched the product back in to the market. It was initially available through a select number of dealers so that we could control the supply chain, but now it’s available through most UK dealers.”

Safe for every patient

Containing felypressin instead of adrenaline, Citanest is more suitable for patients that have significant cardiovascular disease, and as it does not contain latex, it also eliminates the risk of allergic reaction. Citanest is said to be just as effective as lidocaine-based anaesthetics, but 40 per cent less toxic, and with excellent tolerance level.

“The thing about Citanest is that it’s unique. The drug behind Citanest is Prilocaine, which is not available through any other manufacturer in the UK so customers who were using it prior to our supply problems couldn’t get it, or they could only get 1.8ml.”

Gerry continued, “The reason why Citanest is important is because it is different to the standard anaesthetics available. Citanest contains a vasoconstrictor that is more suitable than adrenaline when used for patients with a significant cardiac condition or sensitivity to adrenaline. This is why we think dentists like Citanest – because of the reduced risk. With an aging population, people are living longer and keeping their teeth longer so they’re going to the dentist later in life – this is when they potentially become more at risk of the adverse effects from some of these other drugs. For this reason, arguably, Citanest is more important now than maybe 20 or 30 years ago and there is strong reason for this drug to be available for the benefit of patients.”

When asked, is there any risk of Dentsply experiencing the same manufacturing problems, Gerry answered, “At the moment, we have 3.3 million cartridges in our warehouse. We have built up a capacity where we could supply the whole market if needed. We’re one year down the line now and have had no problems.

“Prior to this happening, we had the largest market share in the UK (48 per cent SDM Q4 2004), and although we are not currently number one, our intention is to be number one again. 

“We think that every dental practice should have Citanest on the shelf so that when a patient comes in, the clinician has the choice to use a product that does not contain adrenaline but has the benefit of effective vasoconstriction.” 

Citanest is back for good

To end, Gerry reiterated, “Citanest has not been discontinued. It’s available, we have plenty in stock. We have a regular supply coming in and we are confident we can meet everybody’s need for Citanest.

“It offers the opportunity to reduce the potential adverse reactions from adrenaline while producing the benefits of vasoconstriction. It’s reported to be 40 per cent less toxic than lidocaine, and, with the change in demographics, it’s got a place in dental treatments. 

“It’s also priced very competitively in the market because, as we know, it’s a tough economy and there’s been a lot of general price inflation. We’ve been out of the market for a while so we knew we had to be competitive to reward customers who remembered us and have been loyal to Citanest. Our prices will remain competitive.”  

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