Helminths, also known as parasitic worms, are multicellular organisms and can be seen with the naked eye. These parasites are transmitted through soil, bite of vector, and penetration by larva. Soil-transmitted infections are most common and affect nearly 2 billion people in the world, including children. According to WHO estimates, 870 million children live areas with high prevalence of helminths infections. South Asia, Africa, and South America are the most affected regions of the world. The warm and moist climate of tropical and subtropical countries provides an ideal environment for the survival of the parasite’s eggs. In addition, prevalence of infections is also linked with quality of water, hygiene practices, and socioeconomic status of affected areas. Helminths harm the host by causing injury to organs such as the intestines and by secreting toxic substances. Helminths infections are most common in rural areas, especially in warm, humid equatorial regions or where sanitation facilities are inadequate. Helminths are broadly classified into the three major groups: cestodes (tapeworms), nematodes (round warm), and trematodes (flukes). Nematodes are called intestinal parasites e.g. Ascaris lumbricoides, Enterobius vermicularis, etc. and are transmitted through undercooked food.
Anthelmintics are drugs that work on helminths as either vermicides (by killing) or vermifuges (by expelling). They act through different mechanisms. For instance, some drugs such as Levamisole and Pyrantel act as agonists at the acetylcholine receptor. Piperazin cause flaccid paralysis by acting on GABA receptors. Avermectines increase the opening of glutamate-gated chloride channel. Chemotherapy is the drug of choice for helminthic infections. Nematodas are treated with Diethylcarbamazin citrate (DEC), Ivermectin, Mebendazole, Pyrantel, and Thiabendazol. Trematode infections are treated with Praziquantel, and cestodes infections are treated with Albendazol and Niclosamide. These drugs can be administered topically, intravenously, and orally. Common side effects of anthelmintic drugs include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, etc.
Resistance is a significant problem with anthelmintic drugs. Causes of resistance include high treatment frequency, single drug regimen, and under dosing. Research is being conducted to overcome anthelmintic drug resistance by developing drugs that target metabolic pathways. For instance, nicotinic acetylcholine receptor inhibitor (S)-5-ethynyl-anabasine derivative and combinations of anthelmintics with a similar spectrum of activity and different mechanisms of action.
Key drivers of the anthelmintic drugs market include continuously rising prevalence of helminthic infections, increase in novel drug development, government initiatives for creating awareness about the various diseases, affordability of drugs, and high adoption of drugs in developing countries. However, lack of awareness among the rural population, stiff competition, and severity involved in taking the wrong medication due to misdiagnosis or incorrect self-diagnosis could restrain the anthelmintic drugs market.
The global anthelmintic drugs market can be segmented based on application, route of administration, distribution channel, and geography. Based on application, the anthelmintic drugs market can be classified into drugs for human being and drugs for animals. In terms of route of administration, the anthelmintic drugs market can be categorized into oral, topical, and intravenous. Based on distribution channel, the market can be split into hospital pharmacies, retail pharmacies, online pharmacies, mail order pharmacies, and others. In terms of geography, the anthelmintic drugs market can be segmented into North America (the U.S. and Canada), Europe (the U.K., Germany, and France), Asia Pacific (Japan, Australia, India, China, etc.), Latin America (Mexico and Brazil), and Middle East & Africa (GCC Countries, South Africa, etc.). North America is a significant region of the anthelmintic drug market, followed by Europe, where the prevalence of drug resistance is likely to be low. The anthelmintic drugs market in Asia Pacific is expanding due to increase in incidence of helminths infections, rise in awareness about helminths diseases and drug availability and expansion in the health care industry in the region.
Major players in the global anthelmintic drugs market include Novartis AG, Pfizer, Inc., Bayer AG, Cipla, Inc., Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Mankind Pharma, Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., Impax laboratories Inc., and Merck & Co., Inc.
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