Opioids Losing Sheen to Alternative Pain Management Methods

Aug, 2020 - by CMI

Opioids Losing Sheen to Alternative Pain Management Methods

The risk of addiction associated with the use of opioids tends to overshadow its many useful properties. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 people in the U.S. die daily due to overdose of opioids. However, their role in reducing moderate to severe pain ensures a steady demand from healthcare providers. Currently, opioids are being widely used as an anesthetic, with end-stage palliative care a key area of interest.

Opioid use has been marred by concerns about their long-term side effects and their addiction-inducing nature. Many patients are not able to successfully come off opioids after their treatment course is completed, leading to a vicious cycle of drug abuse. It is due to these concerns that pharmaceutical companies are now focusing on developing next-generation opioids – those that have all the anesthetic properties, without no or low risk of addiction.

Side Effects and Addiction: Key Concern for Physicians

Diversion of opioids for non-medical purposes remains a key concern for prescribing physicians. Surveys have found that although a majority of first-time users have medical needs for taking opioids, the addiction inducing property means that patients consume it long after the diseases have been successfully treated.

In addition to concerns about the side-effects of opioids and fatalities caused due to their overdose remain a challenge. The majority of the fatalities caused due to opioids overdose are on account of respiratory depression or hypoventilation. Preventing respiratory depression to promote the safe use of opioids.

According to the report titled "Global Opioids Market, By Product Type (Codeine, Fentanyl, Meperidine, Methadone, Morphine, Hydrocodone), Therapeutic Application (Pain Management, Cough Treatment, Diarrhea Treatment), and Geography - Trends, Analysis, and Forecast till 2024", published by Coherent Market Insights, the market for Opioids is expected to surpass US$ 25.7 Billion the end of 2024 at a CAGR of 4.2% during 2016–2024.

Cannabis Growing in Demand as Pain Management Drug


A key development in the global opioid market is the growing preference for cannabis. Studies over the years have found cannabis to be anti-inflammatory and safer to use as pain medication that many NSAIDs. For managing muscle pain and other spasms, medical cannabis has emerged as a potent alternative for patients.

In the U.S., medical marijuana is showing promise as many patients have successfully weaned off these drugs without being addicted to them. It is expected that medical cannabis will continue to gain traction, and account for a substantial revenue share of the global medical cannabis market.

A University of Michigan study in 2016 found a 64% reduction in the use of painkiller medications among patients who took cannabis. This is important research as it will help healthcare providers in directing patients to appropriate use of opioids and in preventing long-term side effects.

Global demand for opioids can witness sluggish growth, as physicians and healthcare providers look for non-medicinal approaches to managing pain. Although millions of people have experienced a significant decrease in pain after taking opioids, meta-analyses have also shown that many patients do not experience any major relief. The placebo effect with opioids is a major impediment to their widespread adoption.

U.S. Single Largest Consumer, with 80% of Global Demand

Any discussion on the global opioids market usually meanders off to the regulation and drug development in the U.S. Considering the fact that the U.S. accounts for only 5% of the global population, yet consumes 80% of global opioids, guidelines on opioid use have a far-reaching impact. The global opioid market will continue to be heavily impacted by how demand shapes in the U.S.

Regulatory bodies such as the FDA in the U.S. regulate opioid use on the basis of their efficacy versus the risk they possess. Currently, the biggest competition to opioids is cannabinoids, and there is an increasing preference for the latter, as concerns about the former lead to a certain level of skepticism.

Mindfulness meditation, for a long time, has been looked upon as an alternative pain management method. However, in the last five years or so, it has gained acceptance as a holistic pain management practice in mainstream healthcare. According to a study published in NCBI, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) could be an effective complementary method for reducing chronic back pain among patients.

The future of opioids will depend, to a large extent, on the R&D carried in the pharmaceutical sector. If pharma companies are able to come up with a solution that offers pain-relieving benefits with minimal side effects, opioids will continue to gain traction. However, in the absence of such medicines, it will largely depend upon alternative methods of management, such as mindfulness, acupuncture, and the use of cannabinoids.

To know more about the latest market trends and insights, read the report titled, "GLOBAL OPIOIDS MARKET, BY PRODUCT TYPE (CODEINE, FENTANYL, MEPERIDINE, METHADONE, MORPHINE, HYDROCODONE), THERAPEUTIC APPLICATION (PAIN MANAGEMENT, COUGH TREATMENT, DIARRHEA TREATMENT), AND GEOGRAPHY - TRENDS, ANALYSIS, AND FORECAST TILL 2024", published by Coherent Market Insights. Click on the link below to access the report –