Pain Therapeutics: A Market Rich in Unmet Medical Need and Competition
This article was originally published in Start Up
Start-ups venturing into the pain management arena will find them selves in a therapeutic category rich in both unmet medical need and competition. To compete, a number of newer companies are pursuing business models that balance the risks inherent in developing novel painkillers with more reliable, predictable routes to commercialization--such as creating next-generation versions of off-patent drugs and inlicensed technology, as well as establishing IP around already-elucidated targets.
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Pain seems as close to a sure bet as the pharmaceutical industry has to offer. Forecasts call for the worldwide analgesic market, already $38 billion in 2002, to grow at a 20% annual clip, nearly doubling to $75 billion by the year 2010. For new drug developers, pain also has the advantage of offering clearly definable endpoints-less pain-and a relatively short duration for clinical trials. No surprise then that more than 200 companies have a hand in developing or marketing pain therapeutics. Among them, the three young companies profiled here-AlgoRx Pharmaceuticals Inc., Algos Therapeutics Inc., and TheraQuest Biosciences LLC.
The founders of Algos Therapeutics decided to base their pain drug company in part on revenues it could generate by providing pharmaceutical clients with preclinical pain drug testing services. The company has built a growing stream of fee-for-service clients, which makes it self sustaining, the company says.
Applying the numbing properties in capsaicin, a molecule found in the white "ribs" of hot peppers, to painful sites is an ancient remedy. Today, many topical pain relief ointments incorporate it. Injecting capsaicin derivatives to relieve chronic and acute pain, however, remains a novel concept, one that AlgoRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. hopes to exploit, eventually putting its "hot sauce" on the table in several multi-billion-dollar pain indications.