Zila Professional Pharmaceuticals, a division of Zila, Inc. (Nasdaq: ZILA), international provider of healthcare and biotechnology products for dental/medical professionals and consumers, announced it has appointed World Medical Trade Organization, Inc. (WMTO) as distributor of ViziLite(TM) disposable chemiluminescent oral examination kits and of Zila's OraTest(R) oral cancer detection products in major Asian markets. WMTO will market and distribute the products through its existing distributors in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Peoples Republic of China, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Viet Nam. While WMTO will also distribute the ViziLite product in Japan, a license to market OraTest products in Japan is held by Azwell,
Inc., a $3 billion pharmaceutical and medical device company. WMTO will be responsible for obtaining any regulatory clearances that may be required in its designated markets.
Representatives of WMTO and their Asian distribution subsidiary President Medical Technologies Corporation will be on hand for the official United States marketing launch of the ViziLite product at the Chicago Mid-Winter Dental Meeting, February 22-24. Zila expects to begin shipping ViziLite Kits to WMTO in the second quarter of calendar 2002.
With an aging population, growing personal income and an increasing focus on preventive medicine, Asia represents a major market opportunity for medical technology products.
Pacific Republic Capital Group is a major investor in The Trylon
Corporation, a privately-held California company that perfected the medical use of the chemiluminescent light technology. Trylon licensed Zila to use the technology for oral examination, in exchange for Zila common stock and royalties on sales of the ViziLite product. Through that arrangement, Pacific Republic Capital Group also became a holder of Zila common stock.
In Asia, oropharyngeal cancer is the leading cancer in men, and the third most frequent cancer site in women. With more smokers than any other region of the globe, Asia has an obvious need to detect and treat oral cancer. The World Health Organization reports that China alone has over 300 million
smokers (one-third of the world's smoking population, and more smokers than the entire U.S. population); nearly 73 percent of men in Viet Nam and 60 percent of Japanese men smoke; and, according to the New York Times, tobacco consumption is growing in Asia at the fastest rate in the world.
Olivia Ho Cheng, WMTO President , said, "Joint marketing of the two Zila products should be productive -- they are complementary. The ViziLite device is less expensive; it is quicker, involving only one, clear rinse; and it causes lesions to appear vivid white. In contrast, OraTest Swabs and the OraTest rinse product are slightly more expensive; they involve three rinses, including one that selectively stains tissue vivid blue; and countries such as
the UK have approved the OraTest product for screening, detection of second primary lesions, and defining margins of lesions for biopsy and surgery."
Ho Cheng continued, "In countries where both the ViziLite and OraTest products are marketed, we believe many clinicians will screen patients at risk for oral cancer first with the ViziLite device, and then either follow-up suspicious cases with an OraTest exam or refer those patients to specialists who will use the OraTest product."
Dr. Ralph Green, Vice President and General Manager of Zila Professional Pharmaceuticals, said Zila's patented single-use ViziLite Test Kit is being distributed to U.S. and Canadian dentists exclusively by Patterson Dental Supply, Inc.
Using the ViziLite Test Kit in combination with a conventional visual oral mucosal examination, healthcare providers can improve the identification, evaluation and monitoring of oral mucosal abnormalities in those at increased risk for oral cancer. The American Cancer Society advises that the risk factors for oral cancer are cigarette, cigar or pipe smoking; use of smokeless
tobacco; and excessive consumption of alcohol. Incidence rates are more than twice as high in men as in women and are greatest in men who are over age 40.
Dr. Green noted that while the ViziLite device has been cleared for marketing by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the OraTest product has not yet been cleared in the U.S. and is the subject of an on-going Phase III clinical trial, being conducted for Zila by ILEX(TM) Oncology Services.