The Global Acne Drug Market

Anything MarketMay 3, 2014

Woman profile with’s ‘Anything Market’ examines the global acne drug market. See if there’s something you didn’t know. Contact us to suggest future topics.

Here are some potentially surprising facts about acne. It’s the most common skin disease. While most people experience breakouts at some point in their lives, a small percentage of individuals continue to have problems into their thirties or forties. New research findings may eventually lead to alternate treatments. For example, a small preliminary clinical trial suggests that acne severity may be reduced by eating a low glycemic index diet.  More extensive studies are needed to determine its future role as an acne deterrent.

Product Options

Most acne drugs have been used safely over extended periods of time. Categories typically include: Antibiotics, antimicrobials (e.g., benzoyl peroxide), anti-inflammatories, hormonal agents, oral retinoids, and topical retinoids. Combination medications have also been developed and commercialized (e.g., Duac and Ziana).

Prescription acne drugs are often much more expensive (e.g., $1,700 per year) than over-the-counter medications that rely on benzoyl peroxide as the primary active ingredient ($80 per year). More than $1.0 billion in U.S. sales annually are generated by five prescription acne drugs.[1] Globally, top-selling acne drugs include Solodyn, Doryx, Ziana, and Duac.[2] Patent protection for Solodyn and Doryx is scheduled to expire in 2018 and 2022, respectively.[3]

Manufacturers’ Dilemmas

Branded prescription acne drugs are increasingly facing generic competition as patent protection periods expire. The lengthy time frame required for developing and obtaining approval of new drugs creates a highly competitive landscape for pharmaceutical companies. Even after a drug is commercialized, years of long-term use by patients occasionally identifies potential problems. In the prescription acne drug market, three medications have generated ongoing concerns in legal, medical, and patient communities: Accutane, Yasmin, and Diane-35.

Prescription drug manufacturers operate in a fiercely competitive market. Efforts to extend the lifespan of popular brands are often successful, delaying the introduction of less expensive generic products. The means of branded product protection are usually aboveboard  and legal, but not always.

In August 2013, four manufacturers have been named in an antitrust class action lawsuit filed by Girard Gibbs on behalf of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 132. The targeted companies are Medicis Pharmaceuticals, Mylan Inc., Sandox Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA. The complaint alleges that Medicis granted each of the three other companies exclusive six-month windows to sell generic versions of Solodyn.[4]

Acne Drug Market Numbers

A widely quoted figure suggests that the global prescription and over-the-counter acne drug market currently generates revenues in excess of $3.0 billion annually (2013).[4] Another source cites a much higher “total acne market” valuation of $6.5 billion. The huge difference may reflect different analytical methodologies and/or inclusion of additional treatment options (e.g., devices, equipment, services, etc.). The following forecast applies a conservative annual growth rate to the $3.0 billion number to estimate future revenues through 2017.

Global Acne Drug Market, 2013 – 2017



Growth Rate
















Compound Annual Growth Rate, 2013 – 2017 = 1.2%
Source: Derived by from ASD Reports’ 2013 market estimate.

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[1]   “Pediatrics / Guideline: Following the Money in Acne Treatment,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today, September 15, 2013.
[2]   “GlobalData: Acne – Drug Pipeline Analysis and Market Forecasts,” PRLog, May 9, 2010 [].
[3]    Ibid.
[5]   “The Dermatology Market Outlook to 2013,”

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