The COVID-19 has been declared as a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO) due to its increased spread across the globe. The virus has spread to all continents from North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific to South America. After the declaration of the pandemic, several nations such as the United States, Germany, India and China among others declared the full lockdown in order to limit its spread. Owing to the infectious existence of COVID-19, the pandemic related restrictions placed also increased the need for opioid abuse services as the fragmented drug supply chain created a shortage of availability. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Violence, we have about 35 million opioid users worldwide (UNODC). According to the World Health Organization (WHO) weekly epidemiology study of 20th September 2020, 30.6 million corona cases have been registered globally and 950,000 patients have died due to coronavirus. The outbreak of COVID-19 is causing untold health challenges especially on the vulnerable drug addict population having huge impact on the healthcare industry majorly for the drug addiction market.
The COVID-19 pandemic has lifted the drug addiction treatment industry from its niche pedestal to the mainstream sector. The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has further expanded the role of drug addiction treatment due to well spread awareness regarding weakening of immunity and cardiovascular system due to excessive drug consumption. In long run, the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to profoundly transform the drug market. Several companies operating in the domain are working to develop an opioid substitution therapy and other medication and some have already entered the landscape of the drug addiction market to increase their revenue by meeting the emergent need of sustainable and reliable therapies.
The demand for drug addiction treatment surged as available research outcomes suggested that drug addicts are more likely to experience worse COVID-19 outcomes. In order to decrease the mortality rate of patients undergoing rehabilitation programmes accessible and unhindered, the supply of addiction treatment drugs are required. In the U.S., an investigating team reported that while individuals with substance use disorder accounted for 10.3% of the overall study population, they accounted for 15.6% of COVID-19 cases and were also prone to worse COVID-19 outcomes such as hospitalization or death than general population.
One of the major reason of the rising demand of addiction treatment is the enforcement and up gradation of certain laws enabling easy access to naloxone. Alcohol consumption rates rose during the first few months of the pandemic pointing to the urgent need for effective public health and medical responses. Due to sudden unavailability of alcohol and other illicit substances, the drug addicts were subjected to withdrawal syndrome. In drug addicts, the cardiac system and the respiratory system are generally compromised making them more susceptible to the COVID-19 outbreak. These makes the drug addict fall under the category of high-risk group. Many scientific findings have suggested that drug addict patients’ needs to be monitored closely in order to develop high potential action plans to shield them from COVID-19 and its worse outcomes. Therefore, the significant rise in the demand of drug addiction treatment medications could be experienced by the key market players of the drug addiction market.
The pandemic associated restrictions as lockdown have increased the risk of substance use disorder or relapse. Also, post lockdown, the substance use may rise. As the Asia-Pacific region which also has the highest ratio of drug users was the hotspot of the COVID-19 pandemic, the drug abuse demand is rising most rapidly in this region. Europe is another region having the highest number of drug addicts which holds good opportunity for the drug addiction market.
COVID-19 has certainly impacted the established methods of addiction and methods of medicines distribution amongst patients due to new social-distancing norms. Over the counter drugs such as benzodiazepines and opioids manufactured in pharmaceutical industries were supplied without hindrance as this essential commodity was supplied with ease. Also medications available for drug addiction therapy were supplied by the drug industry throughout the pandemic. Addiction care and rehabilitation centers developed new ways to carry on the rehab programme without hindrance as addiction care could not be postponed to avoid complications of both substance use disorder and COVID-19.
The pandemic caused disruption of supply chain globally, the outbreak and its associated lockdown measures impacted trade as well as the movement of supply. This has resulted in limited raw material and manpower causing slowing of manufacturing capacity of industries. However, some of the key players are working to stabilize the supply chain by manufacturing addiction treatment medications such as buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone.
The trade restrictions have left no choice but to make critical medical devices a requirement for domestic manufacturing. As the demand rises during the pandemic, counterfeiting and price gouging of imported items are also rising. In order to meet the increasing demand of the people across globe, various initiatives have being taken by the government and many companies.
As the Asia-Pacific market including China and nearby regions produced major chunk of the global supply of the raw material for the pharmaceutical industries, the region being the hotspot has halted the supply chain in order to contain the outbreak of pandemic. The supply demand has raised after the above mentioned government initiatives. Government and health organizations efforts rapidly transformed rehabilitation centers practices to contain community spread of the COVID-19.
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It is expected that the impact of the novel COVID-19 virus would have a long-lasting effect on each industrial field. The COVID-19 epidemic caused people to struggle with uncertainty about the virus and its management. Not only does the virus pose a risk to human life, but it has caused economic hardship and serious emotional strain. This has caused a ripple effect that gave rise to a new set of criteria and needs that were not needed previously. The drug addiction market was limited earlier due to lack of awareness, rehabilitation programmes and patient efforts which have now improved to some extent, solely due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The growing prevalence of drug addicts has necessitated the need for a stable healthcare network and adequate rehabilitation facilities. This has boosted spending in medical services around the globe. The revenue of the key market players of the drug addiction medication manufacturers will surge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, due to surging need of these products and the supply chain disruption due to import-export ban and major lockdown in various regions across globe, the key market players might face issues to fulfil the demand of the people across the globe.
The pandemic is here to live for a substantial amount of time, despite the indication of a drug or vaccine on the horizon. Due to which the local governments are focusing on the vulnerable drug addict population to reduce impact of pandemic and save them from worse COVID-19 outcome, thereby increasing the development and growth of drug addiction market.