Ethical pharmaceuticals or prescription drugs are those licensed drugs that are regulated by various legislations to require a written medical prescription before it can be procured. An ethical pharmaceutical product is only sold by a pharmacists when it has been approved by a written medical prescription from a registered medical practitioner. The term prescription drugs or ethical pharmaceutical is usually used to distinguish the products from over-the-counter drugs – drugs that can be obtained without a written medical prescription. However, varied jurisdictions have varied definitions of what constitutes an ethical pharmaceutical. At present, ethical pharmaceuticals, market is highly profitable as well as a risky market venture. The market is expected to be profitable owing to the upcoming patent expiries of many blockbuster drugs; and risky because of the involvement of many established and multinational companies, who have built a global recognition for their safe and effective products.
Some of the top selling therapeutic classes of ethical pharmaceuticals are as follows:
- Lipid regulators
- Narcotic analgesics
- ACE inhibitors
- Respiratory agents
- Calcium antagonists
- Hormonal contraceptives
- Vitamin and minerals
In terms of geography, North America is the largest market for ethical pharmaceuticals owing to the large population base suffering from various chronic diseases and increasing number of elderly population. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2013, approximately 1,660, 290 new cases of cancer were identified and diagnosed in the U.S. Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2012, 35.1% percent of adults with age over 20 years and over are obese. It is expected that in the coming years, emerging markets such as China, India, Russia, Mexico and Brazil are going to lead the market with a market share amounting to nearly one-third of the global pharmaceutical market under the influence of economic liberalization, increase in elderly population, increase in chronic diseases and huge population of China and India.
One of the primary factors driving the growth of the global ethical pharmaceuticals market are increasing incidence rate of chronic diseases linked with unhealthy lifestyles and increasing geriatric population. Moreover, factors such as high demand for safe and effective treatment regimens are also driving the growth of this market. Furthermore, increasing burden of chronic medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, among the geriatric population and increased focus on retaining superior quality of life are some of the factors contributing in the growth of the ethical pharmaceuticals market.
Additionally, at present the global pharmaceutical market is a multinational and complex industry, with products aimed at the improvement and maintenance of people’s health. The overall drugs market is occupied by a broad spectrum of pharmaceutical companies ranging from established multinationals to emerging generic drug companies. It has been observed that in order commercialize a drug in the market, the average expenses is more than USD 800 million to the pharmaceutical companies. However, the ethical pharmaceutical segment of the overall drug industry is under risk from many sources, mainly from the generic drug industry, which can be a restraining factor for the market.
Currently, the global ethical pharmaceuticals market is a highly fragmented industry due to the involvement of many established and emerging players in the overall market. Some of the major players involved in the market are AstraZeneca plc, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Inc., Mylan, Inc., Novartis AG, Pfizer, Inc., Sanofi S.A. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., amongst others.
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