Over The Counter (OTC) Analgesics or painkillers are drugs that act at different levels of the pain transmission pathway. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) and many others act peripherally, while some others agents, such as opioids act on the central nervous system (CNS). While anticonvulsants act on neurogenic pain, muscle relaxants act on pain due to muscle spasm. These analgesics are helpful in pain management; however, they also have adverse effects.
The reasons for the growth of the OTC analgesics market
- Increasing demand for topical analgesics, which are available as pain-relieving creams, lotions, rubs, gels, and sprays. This has increased the sale of analgesics by 18%, according to Kline Nonprescription Drugs USA report.
- Increasing global geriatric population is expected to generate higher demand for pain relief products. In the United States, about 23% of the people were expected to cross 55 years of age in 2015.
- Product innovation to improve performance, in terms of speed and strength, and further, improve the length of the effect.
- Cost saving, as there would be no need to visit a doctor/physician. It is estimated that the US healthcare system saves USD 6-7 for every USD 1 spent on OTC medicines.
However, anything in excess can take a toll and it is no different with OTC analgesics. The common side-effects include constipation, drowsiness, dizziness, upset stomach, heart attack or stroke. These drugs can cause serious changes in the brain and body. Long-term use of painkillers increases addiction and dependency on the drugs. In the United States, painkillers are the second most abused substances, after marijuana. Pain, in some form or the other, is part of one’s daily life, hence, the need for painkillers.
A report by a market research firm estimates a double-digit growth rate for the Global OTC Analgesics Market, estimated to become a market worth USD 20.79 billion by 2022.
The OTC analgesics market is driven by the better performance of premium-priced branded products as compared to generic OTC analgesics.
Hurdles for the market include:
Uncontrolled prescription of opioids, drug abuse, and unregulated government policies are acting as hurdles for this market.
The Way Ahead:
Innovation in OTC analgesics, like absorption dimension that drives a fast action of analgesics, improved performance, multi-action of analgesics, and high specialization in reducing symptoms of specific ailments, are expected to drive market in the future. Availability of various analgesic drugs in online, owing to increasing number of online pharmacies, is driving the OTC analgesics market.