pain supplements: the next frontier.

Is pain the next big frontier for supplements? The pain OTC drug market is enormous, while for nutraceuticals the category isn’t even listed in reports. But not for long. The biggest players have seen the potential of this vast white space and are starting to make moves. 2023 is seeing a breakthrough in the segment with multiple launches sending shockwaves across the industry. The perfect example is Haleon expanding their leading Excedrin and Panadol painkiller brands with food supplement alternatives. How is the segment developing and where are the opportunities in this emerging trend?

Is pain the next frontier in food supplements?

segment development.

Recently we have seen an increase in companies launching supplements in the pain segment (joint pain, neuropathic pain, migraine, menstrual pain). Many pharma giants are also combining their drug development expertise with nutraceutical products. In doing so, they are expanding their offerings and providing consumers with science-backed pain relief and wellness options, strategically positioning themselves to cater to a wider audience.


Among ingredients, PEA seems to be the one companies decide to base their pain supplements on in most cases. Several products are based on this natural (endogenous to the body) solution, which seems to be effective and able to compete with pharmaceuticals.

For example, Laboratoires Santé Verte based their 2022 launch addressing joint, menstrual pain, and migraine on this ingredient, and Metagenics based their 2022 nerve pain supplement on Levagen+™ (a branded PEA). INNventa also based their 2023 neuropathic pain product on this ingredient.

Specific subsegments.

The category is developing in terms of specific subsegments and positionings. The most established among them is joint pain. Haleon addressed this segment with their PanaNatra supplement in 2023 and positioned it to help relieve mild joint aches, pain, inflammation, and symptoms of mild osteoarthritis.

Glanbia Optimum Nutrition also launched a product for bones, joints and muscles based on branded collagen and PEA ingredients in 2022.

Menstrual pain subsegment has also been booming recently. In 2023, Laboratoire CCD launched a product for reducing abdominal pain, cramps, and fatigue, and promoting physical and mental well-being and Dômes Pharma launched a supplement for painful periods. In 2022, PT Kalbe expanded ther Femmy line for women, endorsed by actress Natasha Wilona. They launched a powder stick supplement for reducing pain experienced during menstruation by regulating hormones and uterine contractions and for boosting energy.

The market for neuropathic pain and migraine supplements is evolving as well. Blackmores launched an ache relief + focus nutraceutical product in 2023. The product is targeted at sedentary workers experiencing back pain.

Perrigo also addressed this subsegment in 2022. They launched a product for dietary management of uncontrolled neuroinflammation in patients with chronic pain such as low back pain and neuropathic pain. The same year, Haleon launched Excedrin HeadCare line of supplements including supplements for supporting head health and comfort daily, supporting focus and hydration after occasional head discomfort, and promoting relaxation and sleep after occasional head discomfort.

what are the opportunities?

Major pharmaceutical companies are recognizing an opportunity within the niche pain supplement market to broaden their reach and cater to a more diverse audience. They are achieving this by launching new nutraceutical products alongside their established OTC drugs, addressing a wider range of consumers’ needs. Additionally, these industry leaders are actively investing in clinical studies to provide scientific substantiation for the efficacy of their pain supplements and ingredients.

Addressing a wider range of consumers.

The previously mentioned supplement extension to existing OTC drugs by Haleon Australia and USA, PanaNatra (complementing their painkiller drug Panadol) and Excedrin HeadCare (complementing their migraine drug Excedrin) are addressing a previously unaddressed opportunity. How?

PanaNatra is a plant-based line of nutraceutical products. With these supplements, Haleon has created an alternative painkiller option for natural enthusiasts, who don’t wish to address the issue with drugs. The ingredients used in the product are branded and clinically studied, therefore making this option appealing to consumers who seek proof of efficacy as well. Instead of competing with Panadol, the company is thus addressing an additional demographic group – a growing population of consumers that prefer natural, clinically supported alternatives.

With Excedrin the pharma giant is focusing on addressing a full lifecycle of a need state, not just the disease itself. The nutraceuticals are complementary to the company’s OTC drug, with a focus on prevention and better recovery and are, again, addressing a wider range of consumers.

Clinical support is an opportunity for pain supplements.

Clinical substantiation.

Leaders are also increasingly investing in clinical studies for their pain supplements and ingredients. For example, Sanofi recently published a study on their Mg-Teadiola ingredient mix for pain perception (among other outcomes) and Arjuna published a new study in 2023 on its Rhuleave-K® formula for menstrual pain.

case study.

In 2018, our client from the EU entered a competitive neuropathic pain supplement market, which was largely controlled by two dominant brands, collectively holding an 88% market share. >Your< Back Pain Capsules, which focus on addressing the root cause of pain rather than just symptoms, began gaining traction through a mid-price strategy, successful patient testimonials, and word-of-mouth recommendations.

PharmaLinea's clients' marketing efforts extend through all channels.

Due to outstanding user feedback, our client initiated a clinical trial. In 2021, sales increased by 45% but were only at about 55% of total ordered units. Consequently, our clients launched a campaign in 2022 with marketing efforts across all channels.

This 2022 campaign yielded outstanding results, with a 54% increase in sell-in and an astonishing 107% increase in sell-out, solidifying our client’s position in the market and marking a remarkable success story in their journey to compete against industry giants.

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