Sulfonamides are a group of drugs that are derived from sulfanilamide, a sulfur containing compound. Sulfonamides are the most commonly used antibiotics around the world and have been in clinical use since 1968. Sulfonamides, also known as anti-metabolites and sulfa drugs act by inhibiting the folic acid synthesis pathway in a bacterial cell. These antibiotics are considered as selective targeted option since human do not synthesize folic acid, but a bacterial cell requires it for the synthesis of adenine and thiamine derivatives of its nucleic acid. These drugs are bacteriostatic in nature and are often utilized in the systemic treatment of acute, uncomplicated urinary tract infections and respiratory upper tract infections. With a broad spectrum of activity, these drugs are also utilized to treat various other bacterial infections like enteritis, chronic bronchitis in adults, otitis media in children and traveler’s diarrhea. The leading drugs in this segment are sulfamethoxazole, sulfisomidine, sulfadiazine, sulfaisodimidine, sulfacetamide, sulfisoxazole, sulfasalazine, sulfadoxine and dichlorphenamide. One of the combination drugs available in this class is the sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim combination which becomes bactericidal in action in contrast with the other sulfa drugs. Some of the key brands available in this class are Dapsone (diamino-diphenylsulfone) and Sepmax (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim) from GlaxoSmithKline plc; Blephamide(prednisolone and sulfacetamide) from Allergan, Inc. and Vasocidin (prednisolone and sulfacetamide) from Novartis AG.
Geographically, the market for systemic antibiotic-sulfonamide combination pharmaceuticals has been segmented into four major regions, namely, North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW). In North America and Europe, the market is characterized by market maturity and increasing penetration by generic manufacturers. Stringent regulatory guidelines pose a significant challenge before the growth of this market to some extent in these regions. However, the market may experience a significant growth on the introduction of new products during coming years. Asia-Pacific represents the most potential market for this segment and is expected to record the highest growth rate during the upcoming years. Some major factors expected to drive the systemic antibiotic-sulfonamide combination market growth in the region include, presence of large number of generic manufacturers in major Asian countries (especially in India and China), growing incidences of infectious diseases and emerging economies leading to increased purchasing power of the people belonging to this region. In addition, the region being a home for more than half of the world population is also likely to represent a large pool of patients with various infectious diseases that would consequently increase the uptake of sulfonamide class of drugs.
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Some of the major players engaged in the development, manufacturing and marketing of systemic antibiotic-sulfonamide combination drugs are GlaxoSmithKline plc, Allergan, Inc., Pfizer Ltd., Sanofi, Novartis AG, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Bayer AG, Eli Lilly and Company, Merck & Co., Inc. and AstraZeneca plc. These players compete with each other in order to get competitive advantages over each others. In developing nations like India, China, Mexico and Brazil, they face intense competition from local manufactures that offer systemic antibiotic-sulfonamide combination drugs at relatively low prices.