Opioids are the most widely prescribed medications to treat moderate to severe chronic pain. These analgesics are used to manage pain in cancer patients and also to treat severe constant pain in patients suffering from terminal illnesses. These are generally administered via subcutaneous, oral and intramuscular routes; other routes of administration include nasal insufflations, patient controlled analgesia, transdermal and oral mucosa routes via lozenges. Opioids can be classified into three major classes namely, strong agonists (fentanyl, oxymorphone, and morphine), mild to moderate agonists (codeine and hydroxycodone), and opioids with mixed receptor reactions (buprenophrine and pentazocine). Although they form one of the most widely used analgesic classes, they cause certain adverse effects such as constipation, nausea, vomiting, sedation, respiratory depression and others. However, the major concern with this drug class is the high level of drug abuse observed worldwide, leading to illegal trade of these drugs worth hundreds of billions of dollars. According to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association in April 2011, the rate of deaths occurring due to the overdose of prescription opioids has increased substantially in the last decade in the U.S. alone. This study also indicated that high doses of opioid drugs prescribed for pain management possessed increased risk of overdose mortality in the patients.
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The leading molecules in this segment that constituted about 65% of the total opioids market include OxyContin (oxycodone), Nucynta (tapentadol), Rybix and Ultram (tramadol), Exalgo (hydromorphone), Ultiva (remifentanil) and fentanyl.The remaining 35% market revenue was contributed by other generic opioids as well as combination formulations of NSAIDs with opioids.The actual market scenario for this drug class, however, could be different due to the strong product pipeline, with two major entries MoxDuo IR (morphine/oxycodone) and Remoxy (oxycodone) set to hit the market in 2016. The market entry of these two drugs is expected to boost growth of the overall opioids market during the forecast period. The number of patients suffering from chronic pain is on a constant rise globally. Thus, increasing incidence of chronic pain conditions will continue to encourage the use of pain management drugs, thereby driving the opioids market. Doctors usually prescribe medicines in the initial stages of pain, followed by other treatment options. Prescription drugs are easy to use and economical and are expected to support the growth of the opioids market globally. Prescription drug abuse is the major factor which will limit the growth of the global opioids market.
The global opioids market has been segmented by type, geography, and distribution channel. The market by type includes endogenous (enkephalins, endorphins), opium alkaloids, and synthetic and semisynthetic opioids. The market for semisynthetic and synthetic opioids like fentanyl and oxycodone are expected to grow during the forecast period due to their fast and potent analgesic activity. Based on distribution channels, the global opioids market has been divided into retail pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, and online pharmacies. The hospital pharmacy segment is expected to support the growth of the global opioids market due to high demand for pain killers in hospitals globally.
Based on geographic segmentation, the global opioids market is segmented into five key regions: Asia Pacific, North America, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. According to the U.S. Institute of Medicine, approximately 100 million adults suffered from common chronic conditions such as low back pain followed by migraine and neck pain. North America is expected to be a major contributor to the global opioids market since it has the maximum percentage of population suffering from pain. Europe follows closely due to high prevalence rate of various diseases such as orthopedic and cancer. India, China, and Japan are the most developing countries in Asia Pacific and hence fuel the growth of the global opioids market.
The major players active in the global opioids market includes Purdue Pharma, Pfizer, Inc., QRxpharma limited, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., Mylan N.V., and AbbVie Inc.
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