Sales of drugs used in the treatment of chronic pain is six major world markets are set to decrease from an overall value to $21.4 billion in 2012 to $18.3 billion in 2017, but they will then recover to reach a total of $21.6 billion by 2022, according to new forecasts.

The study, which is published by Decision Resources, looks at the sales prospects of chronic-use pain drugs in the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and Japan. It finds that the sales pattern in the total market for these products will be attributable to the loss of market exclusivity, over the next five years, for products such as Purdue Pharma/Mundipharma/Napp Pharmaceuticals’ OxyContin (controlled-release oxycodone).

“Market contraction in the first half of the forecast period will be followed by a growth in sales from 2017 through 2022, driven by the launches of emerging therapies,” forecasts Natalie Taylor, principal business insights analyst at Decision Resources.

The report also finds that the pipeline of therapies in clinical development targeted at chronic pain conditions continues to be composed largely of reformulations of existing molecules. 

However, it adds that agents which have novel mechanisms of action, such as subtype-selective sodium channel blockers and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against nerve growth factor (NGF), have made recent and notable developmental advances. 

Overcoming the delays which have resulted from safety concerns, anti-NGF therapies such as Eli Lilly/Pfizer’s tanezumab and Johnson & Johnson/Takeda’s fulranumab are expected to garner significant sales from use in patients with severe, treatment-refractory osteoarthritis pain or chronic low back pain, according to the study, which goes on to forecast that this drug class will account for 19% of sales in the major markets for chronic back pain treatments by 2022.

The report also points out that effective analgesic drugs with lower risk of tolerance and abuse remain a key area of unmet need in this market. Now that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a regulatory path for abuse-deterrent, long-acting and extended-release opioids, a number of abuse-deterrent products from developers such as Pfizer, Teva and Purdue are expected to be launched onto the US market over the next five years, it says, and forecasts that, by 2022, sales of abuse-deterrent opioid formulations for the treatment of chronic pain will exceed $1 billion across the multiple chronic pain indications covered in this report.