During menopause, women experience many symptoms associated with the natural change in hormone levels. Hot flashes and sexual dysfunction are the most prevalent symptoms, and if untreated can lead to sleep deprivation and even depression.
Before the Women’s Health Initiative, women were effectively treating their menopausal symptoms with hormone replacement therapy. Since then, the medical community has carefully studied the toxicity of these hormones and is now more cautious of their usage. The prescriptions for hormones for menopausal symptoms have been cut in half since 2003.
Women have a lack of treatment options to safely and effectively treat menopausal symptoms, often they turn to over-the-counter remedies which have variable efficacy. "Women feel underserved, they can't take hormones because of the side effects, and the OTC remedies aren't improving symptoms" said our industry analyst. "Historically, women were given less medical attention compared to their male counterparts. But that is quickly changing, women's health is one of the fastest growing fields in medicine and a highly sought after market for pharmaceutical companies."
The women's health market is such an opportunity that Teva Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:TEVA), the world’s largest generic manufacturer, is aggressively expanding in this space. "Historically, Teva has focused on manufacturing generic drugs, but recently management has indicated that it wants to generate up to 25% of its revenue from branded products." Roughly a year ago, Teva purchased Barr pharmaceuticals together with its subsidiary Duramed. The result of the merger is a "Teva Women's Health" a branch of Teva that already has a strong presence in women's health but is looking to expand.
Teva is not the only one who sees an opportunity. Japan-based Hisamitsu Pharmaceuticals recently bought Noven Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ:NOVN) after Noven announced it's drug Mesafem achieved statistical significance for the treatment of hot flashes in a Phase II trial. Noven, a florida based manufacturer, markets hormone therapies, birth control and transdermal patches.
Furthermore, the women's health space looks to become more interesting as two key pharmaceutical companies will report late-stage clinical trials later this year. Depomed (NASDAQ:DEPO) is set to report results, in October, for their drug Serada for treatment of menopausal hot flashes. Likewise, Wyeth (NYSE:WYE) is set to reports results in December for their drug Pristiq.