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Global opioids market dominated by the severe pain sector

Industry Sector

Healthcare and Medical


10 January 2013


Alex De Angelis

Type of News


The global opioids market is currently very broad, with a varied product portfolio. Opioid analgesics are used in the treatment of patients that experience pain because of a number of underlying physiological reasons. For this reason, the severe pain sector is dominated by opioid drugs.

In the late 1990s, a perfect storm hit the medical community. The pharmaceutical industry started promoting new opioid formulations for chronic pain conditions, which, when used properly, could be very effective.

At the same time, and based on previous success in the surgical, cancer, and palliative care settings, a school of thought formed among pain specialists that opioid analgesics could be used effectively to treat chronic pain -- what many clinicians recall as a genuine attempt at more compassionate pain management.

Whilst the prescription rates of opioid analgesic have seen a historically unprecedented increase over the last two decades, particularly in the US, this has resulted in a dramatic concomitant increase in opioid abuse and dependency.

Over the last few years, the growing concern over opioid abuse has resulted in tighter regulations and increasingly vocal concerns by physicians.

Due to these concerns from regulatory authorities and physicians about growing opioid abuse, there has been a seismic shift towards developing abuse-resistant formulations of extended-release opioid analgesics, including both novel products and reformulations of existing ones.

Since the launch of the first abuse-resistant product, Embeda, in 2009, a whole range of novel products and reformulations of existing product ranges have been brought to the market.

While abuse-resistant formulations do not confer any clinical benefits, they have become an essential differentiating factor in the current market environment in order ensure that products remain competitive for the future.

The current developmental pipeline of opioid products for the management of a range of painful conditions is very small compared to the total revenue and patient pool for the existing products. This is indicative of a very low level of innovation and a high level of market saturation.

A total of 54 monotherapies and combination opioid-based therapies that are currently being tested for the treatment of acute and chronic pain, as well as for osteoarthritic, neuropathic, and post-operative pain.

For more information on the global opioids market, see the latest research: Global Opioids Market

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