New BIO Analysis Reveals Declining Pain Drug Pipeline and Underinvestment in New Addiction Therapies
February 2, 2023

Dr. PlumbPharma

Today, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) released a new analysis showing that the current level of investment in new pain and addiction treatments is falling short of what is needed to combat the mounting public health crises.

The report, authored by David Thomas and Chad Wessel of BIO’s Industry Analysis team, includes several key takeaways for the current state of innovation in pain and addiction.

BIO’s analysis found that the number of active clinical drug programs for pain has plummeted from 220 to 124 since 2017, a 44% decrease.

The report also found that pain therapeutics face below-average chances of reaching final FDA approval. Only 0.7% of new pain drugs progress from Phase I clinical trials to FDA approval, compared to the average success rate of 6.5% for novel drugs across all disease areas. Although innovative new medicines have been approved for migraine headaches, there have not been any additional novel targeting, non-addictive drugs for chronic pain approved in the last five years.

The number of addiction therapeutics in the pipeline remains low, with an increase from 29 to 39 since 2017. The Phase II failure rate reached 93% for the past five years.  

The report’s authors describe a disconnect of investment focus, where private investment is not matching the magnitude of the societal and economic costs associated with the pain and addiction crises. They found that only 1.3% of total therapeutic venture capital investment went to pain and addiction companies in 2021.

“With more than 100 million Americans currently living with pain or addiction, it was troubling to find the clinical pipeline for pain deteriorating and a scarcity of late-stage addiction programs,” said David Thomas, senior vice president of industry research and analysis at BIO.  

“Addressing this unmet need will require greater public and private investment. Rebuilding the pain and addiction innovation landscape could save thousands of American lives while improving millions more,” said Rachel King, interim CEO at BIO.

The full report, “The State of Innovation in Pain and Addiction,” and other BIO Industry Analysis reports are available for download at

The report will be discussed at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference during a session on Tuesday, February 7, at 9:00 am ET. For more event information, visit here. For media registration, visit here.