Movantik Spearheads Global Opioid-induced Constipation Market

The most common legal use of opioids today is for relieving pain. Opiates are a part of opioids and are a range of drugs that produce morphine-like effects. This group of drugs also includes morphine itself, along with synthetic and semi-synthetic drugs including fentanyl, oxycodone, methadone, hydromorphone, and hydrocodone. They are all important drugs used for the management of chronic pain. Opioids commonly work by binding to the mu-opioid receptors within the brain. The downside of using opioids is that they also bind to the mu-opioid receptors in the intestine, which leads to the most common complication faced by opioid users: constipation.

Progress Status of OIC Meds

The global opioid-induced constipation treatment market is expected to reach US$4.8 bn by the end of 2023. It will get there if it can maintain a highly positive estimated CAGR of 31.20% between 2015 and 2023. This rate of growth is being achieved through various drivers such as easy access to treatment drugs, high awareness of OIC, and the low cost of OIC therapy.

A number of pharma companies are involved in the global opioid-induced constipation treatment market. Some of the key players are Cosmo Pharmaceuticals, Daewoong Co. Ltd., Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, C.B. Fleet Company, Inc., Bayer AG, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc., Abbott Laboratories, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, and AstraZeneca plc. One of the more prominent names among these is AstraZeneca, thanks to its hand in the development of Movantik.

Movantik and other Prime Drugs in OIC Therapy

Americans might be familiar with Movantik, thanks to an animated Super Bowl commercial released for it. While it may have split the opinions among all those who learned what opioid-induced constipation is, the bottom-line remains that they now at least know about OIC. 

Movantik has become one of the most popular OIC treatment drugs, allowing this drug to lead its segment of mu-opioid receptor antagonists into becoming the fastest-growing drug class in the global opioid-induced constipation treatment market. In 2014, the largest drug class in this market was the segment of chloride channel activators, and Amitiza is the only approved drug available in this class. The future of the global opioid-induced constipation treatment market can therefore be expected to lie in the greater use of mu-opioid receptor antagonists such as Movantik and other drugs in this class that are currently in the pipeline, such as maldemedine and others.

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The advantage that this drug class offers is that these drugs can successfully target the underlying cause of OIC, which is the action of opioid receptors. These drugs make the receptors turn back the effect that opioids have had on them, thereby curing the patient of constipation, while still letting the opioid keep its analgesic function. Currently, the three drugs in this class are Movantik by AstraZeneca, Relistor by Valeant Pharmaceuticals, and, in some opioid overdose-related emergency cases, Naloxone.

Most studies point to North America, specifically the U.S., becoming the top user of OIC treatments in the near future. The United States is one of the largest consumers of prescription opioids in the world, making it one of the strongest regions in the global opioid-induced constipation treatment market in terms of sales and revenue.


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