Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that affects persons of all ages, but most commonly starts in childhood. It is a common long-term condition characterised by narrowing of the airways, leading to airflow limitation and airway hyper-responsiveness whenever the lungs come into contact with endogenous and exogenous irritants.
Exposure to irritants instigates a series of events, such as swelling of the airways, tightening of the respiratory muscles, and increased mucus production, leading to reduced airflow into the lungs.
Over 300 million people suffer from asthma, which translates to a drug market worth over $15 billion. While drugs to manage asthma have existed for several decades, pharmaceutical companies have developed faster acting and more effective products over the years.
The 2004 Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) report estimated that 300 million people suffered from asthma worldwide, with the prevalence varying widely in different countries. However, recent trends show that the disparity is narrowing due to the rising prevalence of asthma in developing countries and the plateauing prevalence in developed countries.
Asthma accounts for approximately 250,000 deaths around the world annually, deaths that otherwise could be easily prevented through appropriate treatment (Masoli et al., 2004; WHO, 2007).
In 2012, there were 135.28 million lifetime prevalent cases of asthma in the 10 major markets, with approximately 80.00 million cases in the US (41.90 million cases) and India (39.00 million cases) combined.
Some pharma manufacturers are due to see sales from their key brands in the area decline as patent expiries bite.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will soon be hit by generic competition for Seretide (fluticasone propionate), while Merck & Co is expecting huge losses following the FDA's approval of first generic version of its asthma drug Singulair earlier this month. The drug made $4.4 billion during 2011.
Governments need to focus more on educating people about avoiding the risks for asthma and managing their symptoms, so they can live longer and more productive lives while reducing healthcare costs (de Marco et al., 2012).
For more information on the global asthma market, see the latest research: Global Asthma Market
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