The Race For The Next
As the United States continues to
grapple with the opioid epidemic —
the mightiest drug scourge in the
nation’s history — another crisis is
emerging in its wake.
Doctors are increasingly wary of
dispensing narcotics and prescription
rates are falling (prescription rates
were down 13 percent between
2012 and 2015, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention). Physicians are not just
afraid of contributing to addiction
rates. There’s also a growing body
of research suggesting that available
alternatives to opiates are either just
as effective or even more so in various
healthcare scenarios — from injuries to
Yet, for many patients struggling
with daily pain, current treatments
are often not enough and the sudden
tightening of opioid prescriptions is
doing more harm than good. Thus, the
gap between those who are suffering
and those finding adequate treatment
While doctors and patients
scramble to solve this growing
conundrum, the potential for a new
pain medication to reach blockbuster
status has never been greater.
According to the World Health
Organization, about 116 million
Americans were living with chronic
pain in 2011, and the market potential
for a number of painful illnesses
is expected to skyrocket in the
coming years. Transparency Market
Research predicted last year that the
race to find the next great painkiller
What kinds of treatments are coming
down the pipeline that could finally
offer relief without the risk of a crippling
addiction? Where are pharmaceutical
companies finding the most hope and
seeing the most opportunity to make a
big move in the market?
Attitudes around medical devices are
shifting as doctors look beyond pills
to treat pain.
Though once taboo, demand
is now increasing for small spinal
implants that counteract pain signals,
spurring manufacturers to innovate
more efficient models of the devices.
By Meagan Parrish
These new devices and medications could soon shake up the
pain management market.
global market for “pain management
therapeutics” will grow from $60.2
billion in 2015 to $83 billion by 2024.
Naturally, many pharmaceutical
companies have sensed for years
that more therapies are going to
be needed and are hunting for new
molecules to alleviate pain or looking
into different pathways to block pain
signals from reaching the brain.
While progress has come in fits and
starts, the regulatory environment
is favorable for moving promising
therapies down the pipeline.
In short, opiate addiction rates
in the U.S. are still at devastating
highs. Doctors are often too nervous
to prescribe narcotics and don’t
have great alternatives to offer.
Many patients are struggling. The