Muscle relaxants are a diverse group of medicines that have the ability to relax or reduce tension in muscles. These are used to treat conditions such as muscle pain, spasm, and hyperreflexia. The two types of muscle relaxants available in the market are centrally acting muscle relaxants and direct acting muscle relaxants. Direct acting muscle relaxants are also known as neuromuscular blocking agents. These have no central nervous system activity and act by interfering with transmission of neurons at the neuromuscular junction end plate. Direct acting muscle relaxants are generally used as anesthetics during surgery and long term basis to allow controlled mechanical ventilation in patients in intensive care units. Centrally acting muscle relaxants are also known as spasmolytic agents. These act by blocking excessively stimulated neuronal pathway in the brain and spinal cord. Spasmolytic agents are useful in controlling musculoskeletal pain and spasm. Only three muscle relaxants — baclofen, dantrolene, and tizanidine — have been approved by the FDA to treat spasticity. However, six muscle relaxants — carisoprodol, chlorzoxazone cyclobenzaprine, methocarbamol, metaxalone, and orphenadrine — have been approved to treat muscle spasm. Muscle relaxants are powerful drugs; however, these can have adverse side effects such as heart failure, sedation, and paralysis. Most patients report sedation as a common adverse effect. Hence, doctors generally advise against driving or operating heavy machinery after muscle relaxant administration.

Rise in number of surgeries and increase in geriatric population are projected to drive the global muscle relaxant drugs market during the forecast period. Additionally, rise in prevalence of chronic lower back pain is anticipated to propel the global market in the near future. According to the WHO, lifetime prevalence of non-specific lower back pain is estimated at 60% to 70% in industrialized countries. However, side effects and abuse potential of drugs are likely to restrain the global muscle relaxant drugs market.

The global muscle relaxant drugs market can be segmented based on drug class, route of administration, distribution channel, and region. In terms of drug class, the global market can be categorized into peripherally acting muscle relaxants and centrally acting muscle relaxants. Based on route of administration, the global muscle relaxant drugs market can be bifurcated into oral and injectable. In terms of distribution channel, the global market can be divided into online pharmacies, retail pharmacies, and hospital pharmacies.

Geographically, the global muscle relaxant drugs market can be segmented into North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa. North America is expected to account for the largest share of the global market because of significant number of surgical procedures performed in the U.S., increase in prevalence of chronic lower back pain, and high per capita income. According to National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) report 2016, over 50% (125 million) adults in the U.S. had a musculoskeletal pain disorder in 2012. Europe is expected to be the second largest market for muscle relaxant drugs during the forecast period due to advancement in surgical procedures and rise in usage of muscle relaxants in pain management. The muscle relaxant drugs market in Asia Pacific is likely to expand rapidly during the forecast period. Growth of the market in the region can be attributed to rise in number of cosmetic surgeries, surge in income, increase in number of hospitals, and better access to health care. Additionally, expansion activities by key players in the region and launch of generic muscle relaxant drug formulations propel the growth of the muscle relaxant drugs market in the region.

Key players operating in the global muscle relaxant drugs market are AbbVie, Inc., Sandoz, Inc. (Novartis AG), Abbott Laboratories, Pfizer, Inc., Merck & Co., Inc., MedPointe Pharmaceuticals, Meda Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Valeant Pharmaceutical International, Inc., Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., and Acorda Therapeutics, Inc., among others.

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Muscle Relaxant Drugs Market

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