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By: Keena Roberts

    Expanding on global trends in analgesics, Euromonitor International’s new report, “Analgesics Part 2: The Future of Pain Management”, takes a deeper dive into the issues surrounding global analgesics sales, including how manufacturers are working around opioids, how a global patchwork of regulations affects sales in different regions and how companies are positioning products around reformulation. This report concludes with a discussion of the future of pain management, and that while the market appears to be largely static and free from innovation, the reality is very much the opposite.

    Source: Euromonitor International

    Where are we now?

    The market for analgesics is, to a large extent, an inelastic one: the value compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at constant 2016 prices for global analgesics was 2% over 2011- 2016 and is projected to remain at 2% over the forecast period (2016-2021). Yet despite slow growth in the market overall, there are many factors within analgesics that are important drivers of growth and changes in the market going forward.

    Working around opioids

    Analgesics derived from the opium poppy have been some of the world’s most popular forms of pain management since 3,000 BC. Although most opioid products have left the OTC market due to their addictive properties, many are still available in select markets and are often viewed as more effective than other OTC analgesics. How countries and manufacturers decide to deal with opioids has an important impact on how the rest of the OTC analgesics market operates, especially in light of some countries’ recent decisions to remove opioid-analgesics from the market out of safety concerns, reverse-switching products to RX that had been available OTC.

    Regulations: A global patchwork

    Moving beyond the question of how opioids continue to shape the world of OTC analgesics, there are a variety of ways in which individual countries regulate the analgesic products available in their markets, such as how much API is in each unit, how many units can be sold per bottle or package, how many bottles can be sold to an individual customer at once, and whether the product   is available OTC, behind the counter, or only after consultation with a pharmacist. All   of these factors have an important impact on why a consumer ultimately chooses one product over another.

    Opportunities in reformulation

    The legalities of certain analgesic APIs and the regulatory structures in place across markets are unlikely to change quickly, even though consumer behaviours, preferences, and purchasing habits inevitably will, and will change often. So how do pharmaceutical companies expand innovation within the limited confines of having to use particular APIs and having to do so within legal parameters? One of the biggest opportunities is in reformulation: how much of a medication is delivered, how it is delivered, where, when and to  whom.

    The future of pain management

    The future of pain management will likely be determined by regulatory changes, RX-to-OTC switches and rising consumer preference for pain management techniques and products that do not involve the consumption of chemicals, such as topical analgesic products and medical devices, such as TENS.

    Part 1 of this global briefing series explores the global and regional trends and developments in the analgesics market over the review period of 2011-2016 and the dynamics that will influence these products in the near future. Part 2 of the series dives deeper into some of the other factors affecting the analgesics market, including the continuing influence of opioid products, the varying patchwork of drug regulations across regions, and trends in innovation among analgesics.

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