Laxatives Market – Global Opportunity Analysis, 2017 –2025

Constipation is one of the most frequently diagnosed gastrointestinal disorders globally. However, incidence rates vary by region. According to a report published by Canadian Digestive Health Foundation in 2014, 1 out of 4 people living in Canada recorded to have symptoms of constipation in 2014. Chronic constipation rates for women were almost twice as high as for men in Canada.

Increasing incidence of constipation were also recorded in other developed economies such as the U.S. and UK. According to a report published by Coloplast—a global leading player in ostomy care, urology and continence care, and wound and skin care, 1 in 7 adults were affected by constipation during 2014 – 2015 in the UK. The condition was even worse for children, wherein 1 in 3 were affected by constipation during 2014-2015.

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Laxatives are chemical substances that are helpful in increasing stool motility and bowel movement, and are thus, used to treat and/or prevent constipation. Increasing incidences of medical disorders such as eating disorders where laxatives are overused and increasing incidences of constipation for which laxatives are primarily used for treatment may lead to increased consumption of laxatives, and hence, can result in laxatives market growth. Exceeding the prescribed dose of laxatives leads to various health complications such as chronic constipation, diarrhea, dehydration, and blood in the stool. In spite of this, laxative abuse is rather common. According to a study published in National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in 2010, people abusing laxatives can be categorized into four groups. The largest group constitutes individuals suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, and prevalence of abuse in this group ranges from 10% to 60%, according to the same study. The remaining three categories are – individuals who began using laxatives when constipated but didn’t after getting better; individuals who are involved in sports activities such as weight lifting, and surreptitious laxative abusers.

The scenario is similar in emerging economies such as India, Brazil, and China. According to Abbott Gut-Health Survey, around 14% of the urban population in India suffered from chronic constipation in 2015. As these people are living in urban area where access to healthcare services is rapidly improving, the number of diagnosed patient will increase which in turn will result in laxatives market expansion.  

Increasing incidence of eating disorders and increasing availability of over-the-counter laxatives are expected to drive market growth

Developed economies such as the U.S, UK, Australia, and Germany have witnessed continuous rise in incidence of eating disorders. A report commissioned by Beat in 2015, estimated that over 725,000 people were affected by the disease in UK. According to South Carolina Department of Mental Health (DMH) around 8 million people, including seven million women and one million men in the U.S. were recorded suffering from an eating disorder, in 2015. .

Patients suffering from eating disorders are more likely to overuse laxatives. Also, laxatives as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, have influenced in the excessive overuse. This overuse of laxatives has significantly contributed to growth of the laxatives market.

Negligence and/or unwillingness among patients to talk to doctor about constipation has limited the growth of laxatives market

Majority of the people suffering from constipation are embarrassed to consult their general practitioner (GP) regarding constipation, even in developed economies such as the UK. According to the study released by Coloplast in 2015, around 1 in 5 (i.e. 20%) people in UK, reportedly felt embarrassed to talk to their GP about constipation. This has resulted in underreporting of the people suffering from this condition.

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Majority of the population, especially in rural areas of emerging economies such as India, do not feel the need to consult a doctor for constipation. This negligence is due to lack of literacy, low accessibility to healthcare facilities, low per capita income, and higher self-medication practices in such regions. This has proven to be detrimental to growth of the laxatives market, as people who really require laxatives for treatment are not actually taking it.

Key companies operating in the global laxatives market include AstraZeneca plc, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, Bayer AG, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Abbott Laboratories, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Mylan N.V., and Purdue Pharma L.P.

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