The global drug market
NSAIDs are among the most prescribed drugs worldwide. In Italy they are the most prescribed medicines overall, with 13.4 DDD (Defined Daily Dose), representing 74% of the category. In the United States alone, some 84 million prescriptions are written each year, a figure forecasts inevitably show growing.
The global market size for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs was estimated at $15.58 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $24.35 billion by 2027, with a CAGR of 5.8% over the forecast period. North America dominated the overall market in terms of revenue in 2021, followed by Europe, but the market’s focus is turning to Asia and the Pacific, which are expected to be the fastest growing regions in the near future.
Growth factors include the increasing prevalence of disorders such as migraine, menstrual pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. In the case of arthritis, in particular, NSAIDs account for 39% share of therapy revenue. This is a disease that is set to grow along with the aging population. Indeed, it is no coincidence that Europe, a continent with the highest average age, has the largest market share (about 47%) for treatments related to degenerative joint diseases.
How do NSAIDs work?
NSAIDs interact in a particular way with the arachidonic acid cascade, a molecule in the membranes of our cells that, thanks to the enzyme cyclooxygenase (or COX), is converted into prostaglandins. These cells are the real culprits in triggering inflammation, pain perception and increased body temperature.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit cyclooxygenase, blocking the transformation of arachidonic acid into prostaglandins, thus halting inflammatory processes and the resulting effects. Unlike steroid drugs, which need to be taken on a regular basis and over a longer period instead, NSAIDs can be used occasionally and sporadically.
Inflammation and pain are common symptoms associated with a wide range of medical conditions. To relieve these symptoms, physicians often prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs. Acetylsalicylic acid and ibuprofen belong to this class of drugs, normally used as anti-inflammatory and pain relievers for joint disorders, intense headaches, period pain, toothaches, and neuralgia.
New perspectives and developments in research
Research continues to explore new perspectives for NSAIDs, aiming to improve their efficacy and safety. Studies are underway to develop innovative formulations, such as extended-release tablets or transdermal delivery systems (through a patch), to optimize drug absorption and distribution in the body.
Research continues to advance with the ultimate goal of better and better combating some of the most common painful and inflammatory conditions in humans.
Efficacy and side effects associated with NSAIDs
NSAIDs are known to be effective in reducing pain and inflammation. They can improve joint mobility, reduce swelling, and relieve symptoms associated with many inflammatory conditions. Clinical studies have shown that NSAIDs can offer significant relief, enabling patients to better manage their conditions.
As with any medication, the use of NSAIDs carries some risks and possible side effects. Some of the most common are gastrointestinal upset and kidney problems. These are common drugs that are often purchased without the need for a prescription, so it is important to carefully follow what is written on the package and on the leaflet. When in doubt, it is always recommended to rely on your primary care physician, especially if you have never taken the medication before or in the case of frail, elderly and children.