The Global Prescription Acne Medication Market

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Acne vulgaris typically involves the clogging of sebaceous glands and hair follicles with oils or skin cells. The condition is associated with Propionibacterium acnes, which has exhibited some antibiotic resistance in recent years. Acne affected approximately 120 million individuals in Europe and the United States in 2006. Treatments range from over-the-counter, topically applied products (many of which contain benzoyl peroxide) to antibiotic, hormonal, and retinoid prescription drugs to skin resurfacing procedures (microdermabrasion).

Market Summary:

According to several online sources, the global acne treatment market generates $50.0 billion (or more) each year. A recently published estimate from GlobalData (April 2010) suggests the global acne medication market generated $2.8 billion in 2009.

Revenues consistently demonstrated strong growth in the past decade, although the market analysts' numbers varied considerably. Conservative estimates were in millions of dollars, while aggressive figures were in billions. For example,'s historical analysis estimated that U.S. sales of the leading prescription acne brand medications generated $341.0 million in 2000. A Skin And Aging article published in 2004 describing the U.S. acne and rosacea market referenced a prescription drug revenue estimate of $597.3 million in 2003, which was expected to reach $738.5 million in 2008. The 2003 global market was estimated at $1.6 billion.[1]

In contrast, a 2004 article published by cited a much higher U.S. prescription acne market worth $1.6 billion in 2002, which was forecast to reach $1.9 billion by 2006. The 2001 global market generated an estimated $2.0 billion and was projected to reach $3.3 billion in 2006.[2]


One online article suggests that the acne medication market is now dominated by generic products. Dermatologists, patients, and product reviewers all acknowledge the dominance of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid in many over-the-counter medications. Branded products apparently account for a relatively small portion of the market, although products such as BenzaClin, Diane-35, Differin, and SOLODYN generate global revenues in the hundreds of millions. 

As recently as five years ago, analysts recognized the opportunity and challenge for bringing new effective, innovative, safe medications to market. According to PhRMA's "Medicines In Development" database, ten acne medications are in various stages of clinical trials. A few existing medications are being investigated as standalone treatments or in combination with other drugs: Clindimycin (Skinvisible Pharmaceuticals / ULURU and Crawford Healthcare) and isotretinoin (Cipher Pharmaceuticals / Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals). Six "novel" compounds are being investigated by Anacor Pharmaceuticals, Graceway Pharmaceuticals, Molecular Design International, NanoBio Corporation, PhotoCure, Upsher-Smith, and Warner Chilcott.[2]

Market Article Highlights:

Market Article:

The Global Prescription Acne Medication Market

Published: May 2010

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[1] "An Update On Acne And Rosacea Treatments," Skin And Aging, August 15, 2004 .

[2] "Phase IIB MBI 594AN Study Validates Anti-Acne Properties,", January 1, 2004.