In 1952, Dr. Robert Schattner invented a mouthwash called Chloraseptic that drew rave reviews from dentists and dental surgeons.
Not only was it a powerful antiseptic but it had anesthetic properties that helped ease the pain of strep throat. Schattner went on to turn his product into a million-dollar-a-year business and in 1964 sold Chloraseptic to Norwich Pharmacal Co. for about $4 million.
Now, 30 years later, that success story seems about to be repeated. Schattner, who gave up his dental practice in Bayside, N.Y. to devote full time to research, is marketing a new product that he said last week "has a greater potential today than Chloraseptic had when Norwich started to market it."
It's called Sporicidin, a cold sterilizing agent that is less expensive and works a third faster than anything else on the market.Cold sterilization is an alternative to the methods Schattner once described as cumbersome: boiling water, pressurized heat, gas treatment and long-term chemosterilizers.
Sporicidin, so named because it kills all microorganisms including spores, was patented in 1978 after seven years of research. Recently the American Dental Association's Council on Dental Therapeutics classified it as an "accepted chemical disinfecting and sterilizing solution for use on dental instruments and equipment." The council also accepted the company's claim that its chemosterilizer would produce acceptable results when diluted.
Schattner's main competition comes from Johnson & Johnson whose product Cidex has been the standard cold sterilizing solution for 16 years. Its share of the hospital market is about $18 million a year, Schattner said.
Cidex has its drawbacks. One of the ingredients is a tanning agent called glutaraldehyde. Since it must be used full strength, gloves must be worn to prevent skin discoloration. It takes 10 hours to sterilize instruments and 10 minutes to disinfect.
Sterilization using sporicidin takes six hours and 45 minutes, and disinfection is completed in only two minutes. With a one-to-30 dilution, Sporicidin is equal in strength to undiluted Cidex and "you can keep your hands in it all day" without them turning yellow, Schattner said.
Because it is diluted, Sporicidin usage can dramatically reduce costs for hospitals and dental clinics. Cidex goes for about $7 a quart while Sporicidin sells for less than $4 a quart.
"We became the most effective disinfectant the Environmental Protection Agency ever registered," Schattner said.
After some initial distribution difficulties, Schattner is now marketing the product himself using a network of hospital distributors and dental dealers nationwide.
He is employing a marketing approach that was used to sell Chloraseptic. The plan involves heavy advertising in professional journals and sending samples of Sporicidin to institutions and individuals. "We felt if the man had the product to try, he would make a quick determination to buy it," Schattner said.
The R. Schattner Co. office on Massachusetts NW sends out literature and samples, and the orders are forwarded to the distribtors. Sporicidin is manaufactured in Baltimore and San Francisco and plans are being made to open a facility in Mexico.
The company is just beginning to tap the international market. Sporicidin is currently in use in Thailand, Korea, Equador, Mexico, Venezuela, Switzerland, Austria, and negotiations are under way for an exclusive license with the largest chemical company in France to market Sporicidin there.
Since his arrival in Washington in 1956, Schattner has been identified not only with his work in anti-microbial research but with baseball as well. He has been involved in a number of efforts to bring a professional team to baseball-starved Washington. In 1976, along with developer Theodore Theodore N. Lerner and his brother, Lawrence, Schattner made an unsuccessful bid to buy a National League expansion baseball team. Three years earlier, he teamed up with Joseph Danzansky and Marvin Willig in an attempt to purchase the San Diego Padres and bring them to the RFK stadium.