Zila Professional Pharmaceuticals, a division of Zila, Inc., international provider of healthcare and biotechnology products for dental/medical professionals and consumers, announced acceptance by professionals and patients of its ViziLite(TM) oral examination product. The ViziLite product is used in combination with a conventional visual oral mucosal examination to improve the identification, evaluation and monitoring of oral mucosal abnormalities in those at increased risk for oral cancer.
The FDA-cleared kit is being distributed in the United States by Patterson Dental Supply (with the largest direct sales force in the dentalindustry, totaling over 1,100 sales representatives and equipment software specialists serving dentists, dental laboratories, institutions and other healthcare providers throughout the U.S. and Canada), and in Asia by World Medical Trade Organization (WMTO, a subsidiary of the California investment banking firm Pacific Republic Capital Group, whose owners include Taiwan's billion-dollar Uni-President Enterprises Corporation).
Philip Ramsland, Patterson Dental Supply Marketing Manager - Sundries, said, "We are very excited with the ViziLite product. It creates a win-win-win situation, for the patient, dentist and Patterson. It offers the chance to improve patient care, and provides a new revenue source for practitioners. The ViziLite Test Kit has captured the interest and attention of our sales force and our customers -- no small task in dentistry today. Patterson is delighted to be the exclusive distributor of such a promising, important new product."
Ramsland said that since the start of U.S. ViziLite marketing in late February 2002, nearly 1,000 dental offices have purchased the product and integrated ViziLite exams into their practices. "At this pace," he said, "we hope to have some 3,000 U.S. dentists routinely using the ViziLite product by the end of year one. Research indicates that some 25 percent of patients are in the high oral cancer risk category (tobacco users or heavy drinkers), making them appropriate subjects for ViziLite exams; this translates to roughly 600 patients per practice, on average."
Dr. Ralph Green, Vice President and General Manager of Zila Professional Pharmaceuticals, observed, "Even if only a small percentage of these candidates are examined with our product, this represents a very significant potential new revenue stream for the Company." In the U.S., ViziLite Test Kits are currently priced at $99 for six units.
Dr. Phillip Cooke, a Glendale, Ariz., practitioner, conducted ViziLite examinations of more than 150 players, executives and staff of a Major League Baseball team during spring training in March 2002. "Using the ViziLite product was so easy," he said. "We had everybody who used tobacco rinse with the ViziLite solution; then we shined the light in their mouth to see what was there. I was very surprised -- within the first minutes of starting the examinations we found a lesion that was barely visible clinically. We did a brush biopsy and it came up positive. That was probably the best day of my career, because I felt like I had really done something significant to help another human being. I explained to my patient what the situation was, and said it needs further investigation. He went to the oral surgeon and is being treated now. The whole experience, though, was enough to make me really, really glad again that I'm a dentist."
Registered Dental Hygienist Lorraine Adams says that in Dr. Joshua A. Fried's practice in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., "Patients get a sense of confidence from the ViziLite test." Ms. Adams reported that Dr. Fried charges $40 for the ViziLite-head-and-neck exam, and, "Patient acceptance has been quite good."
The single-use ViziLite kit includes a 2 1/4-inch plastic capsule which, when flexed, activates a non-toxic chemical light source. The ViziLite device produces a diffuse light for approximately 10 minutes -- long enough to do a thorough visual oral examination. Prior to the examination, the patient rinses with a 1% raspberry-flavored acetic solution (included in the kit); this disrupts the glycoprotein barrier of mucosal surfaces, improving visualization of abnormal tissue.
The specific ViziLite wavelengths are absorbed by normal cells and reflected by abnormal cells (due to their higher nucleus-to-cytoplasm ratio). As a result, atypical or dysplastic mucosal abnormalities appear bright white, focusing the health professional's attention on lesions which might not be seen otherwise and which may be revealed upon biopsy to include cancer and pre-cancer.
The American Cancer Society publication "Cancer Facts & Figures 2002" advises that the risk factors for oral cancer are cigarette, cigar or pipe smoking (habits adopted by 47 million U.S. adults, according to the Society); use of smokeless tobacco; and excessive consumption of alcohol.
Dr. Green noted that in addition to the ViziLite product, Patterson Dental Supply now carries nearly all Zila Professional products. "Working with the good people at Patterson on the ViziLite Test Kit has expanded the marketing program for a wide range of Zila products," Dr. Green said