Which Pharma Companies are Working to Mitigate the Burden of Digestive Disorders?

Posted on Apr 21, 2021 by Delveinsight

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Over the past few decades, the estimated incidence and prevalence of digestive disorders have increased significantly. Some of the factors such as industrialization, changing dietary habits, use of antibiotics, smoking, infection, sanitation, and many others have contributed to this inclining trend.

Digestive Disorders, in general, encompasses a large number of diseases such as GERD, ulcerative colitis (UC), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease (CD), and others. These disorders have diverse sources of origin ranging from genetic anomalies to infections, from intake of antibiotics to change in the external environment. Still, the causes of many of the diseases are unknown. These disorders exhibit a wide range of symptoms and possess great challenges as they can lead to many life-threatening complications.  

Among the wide range of digestive disorders, we have compiled some common diseases with the key companies operating in the respective domain. Here are the most common digestive disorders – 

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or gastroesophageal reflux is a digestive disorder that occurs when gastric contents (i.e., acidic stomach juices or fluids) move from the stomach into the esophagus. As per the article by Antunes et al. (2021), GERD is one of the most commonly diagnosed digestive disorders in the US, with a prevalence of 20%, resulting in a significant economic burden in direct and indirect costs and adversely affects the quality of life. 

Heartburn and acid regurgitation are the common symptoms of GERD. Similarly, chest pain, difficulty in swallowing, breathing problems, chronic sore throat are other common symptoms. The risk factors associated with GERD include older age, anxiety/depression, smoking, excessive body mass index (BMI), and limited physical activity. Additionally, the eating habits such as the type of food, size, and timing of meals may also lead to GERD. In some cases, severe reflux may give rise to complications such as esophageal strictures, esophagitis, and even esophageal cancer. 

It is being observed that the prevalence of GERD is slightly higher in men compared to women. As per Shams et al. (2009), Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a highly prevalent disease seen in clinical practice. The prevalence (as defined by at least weekly heartburn and acid regurgitation) was 10-20% in the Western world and approximately 5% in Asia. Treatment approaches such as medication and surgery are available for GERD. The treatment aims to minimize exposure of the esophagus to refluxate and preventing complications. Most of the time, patients respond well to a combination of lifestyle changes and a medication regimen, therefore, do not require surgical intervention. Surgery is considered if the patient fails to respond to medical therapy or develops the complications of GERD. Some of the key players such as Jeil Pharmaceutical, Takeda, Sinorda Biomedicine, and others are developing therapies for GERD. The increasing prevalence and the expected launch of emerging therapies will boost the Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) market in the coming years.

Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease is a digestive and immune disorder that leads to an abnormal reaction to gluten. In Celiac Disease, the intake of gluten results in an immune response that attacks the small intestine.  According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, celiac disease is considered a serious autoimmune disease that affects 1 in 100 people worldwide. Moreover, 2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications. Being a hereditary disease, it passes from parent to children. The affected person is advised to take a gluten-free diet. Celiac Disease may lead to abdominal pain, nausea, weight loss, bloating, constipation, chronic diarrhea, fatigue, and many others symptoms. 

There is no therapy in the market to treat CD. The intake of small amounts of gluten can trigger small intestine damage. The lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet is the only option for the affected people. People are advised to avoid wheat, rye, and barley, such as bread and beer. In case of severe nutritional deficiency in patients, doctors often recommend gluten-free vitamins and mineral supplements. Due to the lack of approved drug therapy, there remains a high unmet need in the market that can relieve the patients affected with celiac disease. However, to provide effective therapeutics option companies such as ImmunoGenX, Takeda, 9 Meters Biopharma, Falk Pharma, Zedira, Cour Pharmaceutical, Precigen ActoBio, Provention Bio, and others are actively involved in developing therapies for CD. The robust pipeline activity is expected to drive the growth of the celiac disease market

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is an intestinal disorder that results in stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. According to the study conducted by the NIH (in 2018), IBS is observed to affect 1 in 5 people at some point in their life, and it usually first develops when a person is between 20 and 30 years of age. Around twice as many women are affected as men. 

As of now, there’s no cure for IBS. However, dietary and lifestyle changes, psychological therapies, and medications can be helpful in managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The use of medicines is symptom-directed. Pharmaceutical companies worldwide are conducting extensive research and development activities to provide an effective therapeutic option for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The launch of the emerging therapies will significantly impact the market growth in the coming years. Some of the key companies in the Irritable Bowel Syndrome market include Redhill Bio, Ardelyx, Bausch Health, Forest Pharmaceuticals, and many others. 

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s Disease is a chronic disease that causes inflammation or irritation in the gastrointestinal tract. The disease can occur at any age and is more prevalent among adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 35. In Crohn’s Disease, the affected part of the digestive system becomes inflamed, which can lead to diarrhea, cramps, and pain in the abdomen. Initially, a small segment of the gastrointestinal tract is affected; however, it can progress extensively with time.

Studies have demonstrated that the incidence rates and prevalence rates for Crohn’s disease have increased since the mid-1970s. It is observed that the prevalence has risen continually over the past 50 years, and the highest incidence is being reported in northern Europe, the United Kingdom, and North America. The cause of  Crohn’s Disease is unknown. However, genetics, the body’s immune system response, and certain environmental factors are expected to trigger the development of Crohn’s Disease.

CD treatment depends on disease severity, location of disease, and subtype of the disease. The treatment majorly focuses on minimizing the symptoms by reducing bowel inflammation. The main treatment option against Crohn’s Disease includes drug therapies, and in some cases, surgical procedures are also recommended. At present, some of the key companies such as Gilead Sciences, Celgene Corporation, Abbvie, Genentech, and many others are involved in developing therapies for Crohn’s disease. In the coming years, a better understanding of the pathogenesis of Crohn’s disease will significantly improve the treatment regimens and assist in the development of novel therapies. The introduction of novel therapies will also boost Crohn’s disease market growth

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the large intestine in which the colon and rectum become inflamed. In Ulcerative colitis, small ulcers develop on the colon’s lining, leading to bleeding and can also produce pus. As per the study conducted by Underwood et al. (2017), the highest reported prevalence values were in Europe and North America (ulcerative colitis 286 per 100,000 in the USA). The prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease exceeded 0·3% in North America and many countries in Europe.

Frequent bowel movements, fever, weight loss, tummy pain, loss of appetite,  and skin rashes are some of the common symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis. Certain environmental factors, genetics, abnormal immune response are observed to play a key role in the development of Ulcerative Colitis. Both men and women are supposed to be equally affected by it. However, older men are more likely to be diagnosed as compared to older women.

The treatment option for Ulcerative Colitis (UC) comprises the use of dietary modifications, medication. A surgical procedure may also be required to repair or remove affected portions of a GI tract in some cases. Medications are helpful in managing the inflammation of the colon and can heal the tissue. To provide effective therapeutics option companies such as Aimmune Therapeutics, AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Hoffmann-La Roche, Genentech, DBV Technologies, Sanofi, Regeneron, Vedanta Biosciences, Eli Lilly and Company, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Kaleido Biosciences, and others are involved in developing therapies for Ulcerative Colitis (UC). The entry of targeted/advanced therapies, incremental healthcare spending across the world, involvement of digital technology, increasing prevalence of UC, and new biomarkers for diagnosis of UC will significantly improve the market dynamics in the coming year.

Apart from these, Gallstones, Hemorrhoids, and Diverticulitis are some other common digestive disorders affecting a significant proportion of the population worldwide. 

What lies ahead?

Digestive Disorders collectively cause a heavy burden on the health and well-being of society, as these diseases require continuous medical care, which results in heavy health care expenditures. Besides, some of the diseases can also lead to morbidity and mortality. However, to address these diseases, companies are exploring novel therapies with a better clinical profile. Similarly, in the coming years, improved diagnosis methodologies, raising awareness of the disease, and incremental healthcare spending worldwide will improve the overall situation for these diseases.

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