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Japan Is Discovering the Power of Painkillers

  • Sales of chronic-pain drugs may reach 188 billion yen by 2024
  • Pfizer, Daiichi Sankyo among drugmakers introducing products
Source: Getty Images

Selling painkillers in Japan used to be like pulling teeth. That was until baby boomers discovered how analgesics could take the sting from arthritis, diabetic nerve damage and the ravages of cancer.

Now demand is taking off and drugmakers are introducing new products to a market where per-capita opioid consumption is the fourth-lowest in the developed world. Sales of drugs prescribed for chronic pain in Japan will jump 62 percent to 188 billion yen ($1.7 billion) in the seven years through 2024, Fuji Keizai Co., Tokyo-based market research firm, said in a report in November.