Hunter-backed medical device AirPhysio draws global attention as it plans national launch

Medical aid: Steve Owen holding AirPhysio, a device designed to aid lung capacity and fight asthma. Picture: Simone de Peak.
Medical aid: Steve Owen holding AirPhysio, a device designed to aid lung capacity and fight asthma. Picture: Simone de Peak.

A medical device with Hunter backing that has been designed to improve lung capacity and fight asthma is on the cusp of national distribution and winning global attention. 

Maitland-based Steve Owen and mates Paul O’Brien and Wayne Dayley are business partners in AirPhysio, a handheld device based on Oscillating Positive Airway Pressure (OPEP) that when used caused the lungs to vibrate and shake out mucus and contaminants through natural coughing.

Mr Owen said the trio had been asked to display AirPhysio at short notice at the 2017 Yiwu International Commodities Fair held in China recently. Airphysio beat 3500 entries to win the best product category and Mr Owen said the company was now weeks from securing a national distribution deal in pharmacies. 

“In Australia, the interest in the product is based on the respiratory side however in India and China, it’s all about the smog and pollution,” he said. 

Mr Owen and his business partners found a product similar to AirPhysio in China in 2014 and were keen to distribute it in Australia before they hit logistic hurdles then decided to try and make a better product locally. 

Every breath you take: AirPhysio is a supplement to asthma or respiratory medication rather than a replacement for it.

Every breath you take: AirPhysio is a supplement to asthma or respiratory medication rather than a replacement for it.

“We all know people with respiratory conditions so we thought we wanted to get it out there,” he said. 

Though there are other similar products on the market, Mr Owen said there was not a great deal of awareness of the benefits of the device, which he underlines is a supplement to asthma or respiratory medication rather than a replacement for it.

“These devices are not readily available in pharmacies and it’s usually only physicians recommending them,” he said.

The business trio began product development in early 2015, with Tweed Heads-based engineer Mr O’Brien finalising the design before AirPhysio gained approval from the Therapeutic Goods Authority in Australia and was shown to Asthma Australia meetings nation-wide.

“The response was great; we’ve had many referrals to many hospitals and we are now liaising with them and  negotiating a distribution deal with pharmacies across Australia,” said Mr Owen 

AirPhysio has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help it produce enough stock to sate the demand from China, and also has a community program to donate the device to the needy. It comes in three sizes and retails between $79 and $99  (concessions may be available via some health funds). 

 Mr Owen said the product could assist those with asthma but could also benefit those with flu congestion or an athlete seeking to enhance their lung capacity before competing.