If the company is not quite there, it should be very soon. Last year, Pennsylvania-based Endo Pharmaceuticals, maker of both brands and generics, experienced a 49 percent growth in sales—from $399 million to $596 million. Much of that jump came from Lidoderm, a lidocaine patch whose sales more than doubled and which analysts see as the company's most significant future growth driver. The product is indicated for post-herpetic neuralgia (neuropathic pain), a rapidly growing market in which Endo already has a 26 percent share. With two new launches and three products under FDA review, the company is also poised to grab a big piece of the chronic pain market. The greatest gains will come from Endo's:
But Endo isn't relying only on short-term gains from generic copies of blockbusters. It also has a deep pipeline of patent-protected, in-licensed products and development deals that are setting it up for long-term stability in a global pain-management market that's expected to expand greatly as the population ages.
"We are not yet where we need to be, but there is a much better understanding of the need to aggressively treat pain," Ammon says. "There is now a whole specialty in the area of pain management, which was added in the early 1990s. Physicians have the opportunity to take their residency in pain management. And in the past, hospitals were never assessed on how well they were treating pain. Now all the new accreditation standards rate hospitals on how effectively they are assessing and treating pain. Every patient visit now must be accompanied by an assessment of the patient's pain. Patients are asked how they feel, on a scale of zero to ten. That has to be monitored and logged in their patient forms."
This shift in the mentality of treating pain has driven the market into new territory, both in terms of revenue and products. According to Visiongain, the global pain-management market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.7 percent and will hit $29.7 billion in 2007. Patient convenience and compliance are also driving technology-based pharmas to develop novel delivery mechanisms. In fact, most of the compounds prescribed to treat pain have been around for decades, and the competitive edge in this market goes to companies that find novel formulations that are easy for patients to use.